The Fascinating Story Behind the 2024 Website of the Year Winner, Craft to Crumb

2024 Website of the Year, Craft to Crumb

The 2024 Azbee Awards Website of the Year winner is barely a year old and was created by a single employee (without a template).

There are lessons to be taken from this. Hire well, get out of their way, don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to website creation, and don’t be afraid to take some risks. Oh, and just because you’re a startup B2B company with a small staff doesn’t mean you can’t create an awesome product.

The story of Craft to Crumb began four years ago, when a group of experienced business-to-business professionals, led by Paul Lattan, created Avant Food Media and launched its baking-focused flagship site, Commercial Baking.

That site does exactly as advertised, focusing on the commercial baking industry. But Avant also wanted to talk with retail bakers. “We wanted to play in this space with a new media model,” said Lattan, Avant’s president. “If you’re thinking about commercial bakeries, and then craft artisan retail bakeries, there’s a lot of crossover there.”

They launched Craft to Crumb in the first quarter of 2023. The website itself is a beautiful combination of news, features and multimedia, including a section of instructional videos.

“Excellent mix of written, video and podcast content,” the Azbee judges wrote. “High-quality videos with solid foodie and chef talent. Extremely well-produced. Well done — in a good way.”

One of the beauties of the site is that it doesn’t try to do too much all at once. And it doesn’t bombard its readers, either. “We limit our newsletters, and we limited our digital magazines,” Lattan said. “We also wanted to limit the website because we want people to be able to go in there and bounce around and consume everything and find things really easily. It has to be clean and organized.”

Craft to Crumb’s Azbee win came despite — or maybe because of — the method in which it was put together.

As Avant considered the site’s launch, it planned to simply use the Commercial Baking site as a template.

“The easy button would have been to take our Commercial Baking website, which was really well done and manageable, and just basically flip the branding on it and use the skeletal structure,” Lattan said. “It was affordable. It wouldn’t have taken too many resources.”

But Jordan Winter, the company’s creative director, and the first employee Avant hired, wanted to do it herself. Lattan admits he was a “little leery” of doing that, but he was talked into it.

In fact, Winter had been working furiously behind the scenes, or perhaps just under the surface, on the design of the site.

“She was kind-of-like a duck,” Lattan said. “She’s just on the surface. But her legs are going really fast. And I didn’t notice the work that was being done. And then the site launched and it blew me away. It fits all the things that we try to be — clean, high design, simple, easy-to-navigate.”

2024 Website of the Year, Craft to CrumbOne of Craft to Crumb’s central features is its multimedia. And much like the website itself, that too was largely done by a single person, in this case Multimedia Specialist Olivia Siddall.

Craft to Crumb’s target market tends to be small business owners, bakers who started their own business. “They’re business owners and they’re baking,” Lattan said. “They are working in the front of the house because they can’t get anybody for any extended period of time, and they are just multitasking.”

But that also means they can’t go to trade shows. “They can’t leave the bench,” he said.

2024 Website of the Year, Craft to Crumb's Certified Master Baker Study HallAvant partnered with the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) to create the CMB Study Hall, a group of instructional videos designed to help bakers get their RBA certification.

Siddall created the videos, with the help of an intern. “We filmed everything all at once,” said Joanie Spencer, director of content and partner with Avant Food Media who helped start the company. “It was like an eight- or 10-hour day.”

Siddall does the production on the videos, which are rolled out quarterly.

There’s also Annie Hollon, the digital editor who manages the written content on the site itself, which features news on retail bakeries, including chains such as Magnolia Bakery and Crumbl Cookies. But there are also stories chronicling the rise of home bakers to retail storefronts and to multiple locations. “Those stories are really inspiring,” Spencer said. “The judges’ feedback, it wasn’t lost on me that it was a balance between the design and the narrative and the multimedia. And without those young women, it wouldn’t be what it is.” 

The win, Spencer and Lattan said, confirms the company’s strategy behind its creation. And it confirms an employment strategy key for success in B2B media.

“The greatest thing you can do as a leader is to bring talented people onto your team and then get out of their way,” Spencer said. “I think the best thing that I participated in for this website was getting out of the way of Jordan and Olivia and Annie. We would not have this website if it weren’t for the work that they did.”

Jonathan Maze

Jonathan Maze is the editor-in-chief of Restaurant Business magazine, an award-winning, online publication dedicated to the business of restaurants. He covers fast food, franchising and finance, hosts the “A Deeper Dive” podcast and authors “The Bottom Line” blog and its companion newsletter. Maze has also appeared on The Today Show, NPR, The History Channel and has been quoted in numerous publications.

Maze currently serves on the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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