Is Web Site Design (and Maintenance) Like Yard Work?

May 30, 2012 | Branding, Web Design

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This weekend I spent a lot of time doing gardening, yard work and landscaping projects. I don’t even know if there is a difference between all of those words? As I was busy working outside, I was struck by the similarities between being a homeowner and maintaining my yard and being a business owner and maintaining my online presence through my web site and social media.

My husband and I bought our home in Portland, Maine in 2006. Although I was in my mid 30s, I had never really done much yard work before. I grew up in a house on a heavily wooded lot filled with towering pines. Nothing else grew in that shady location. After that, I lived in college dorms, apartments and finally a condo in Chicago.

Then we bought our house. That’s when we realized that yard work takes a lot of time and energy.

When we were assessing houses we didn’t know how to evaluate whether the exterior grounds would be easy to maintain or not. Even with our small city lot I’m pretty overwhelmed with how much time it takes us to: mow the lawn, keep the hedges trimmed, plant a few bulbs, maintain a very small raised-bed vegetable garden. Those are the tasks that are critical and/or I enjoy. I definitely can’t even keep up with the unglorious task of weeding.

Your first impression: Your web site and your yard

I live in a neighborhood filled with beautiful gardens… And then there is our place. I wouldn’t go so far to call it an eyesore, but it’s definitely rough around the edges. Especially the edge where our property meets the sidewalk!

Our ugly yard in Portland, Maine.

Our yard, where our property meets the sidewalk.

Our neighbors beautiful yard

Our neighbors beautiful yard

This weekend, I wanted to spend time in the yard cleaning up. I started to tackle the weedy mess that sits between our hedge and the sidewalk. As I was cleaning out the weeds, I began to ask myself: What am I going to plant here? (I clearly had no plan!) Luckily, my very talented neighbor came by and offered to give me some of her thriving ground cover plans. Together, we worked together to fix up one spot in the corner of my yard.

Our small landscaping project

Our small landscaping project.

Does your web site need curb appeal?

This is where I started thinking about business owners and their web sites compared to homeowners and their landscaping. When you start a business these days, you have to think about how you will maintain your web site. Unless you get into a condo (think of a franchised business where everything is included), you’re suddenly in charge of this thing and it’s pretty critical to how people perceive you.

I’d been embarrassed about the weeds along the edge of property for a long time, but didn’t know how to move forward. I figured I could struggle through on my own, or I could hire someone to give me a hand. If I were to hire someone, I could work with a landscaper who would initially get the lawn, shrubs and gardens in shape and then I would maintain them. Or, I could go the full nine yards and have them maintain it as well.

This is very similar to how business owners approach their web site. If you don’t have the money, you may try to do this yourself. But you may quickly get overwhelmed, get unprofessional design, and spend way too much time for sub-par results. Investing in someone to professionally design and develop an easy-to-maintain web site and integrate it with your social media channels will free up your time for more important things.

Instantly you build credibility for your business.

As I heard myself thinking about our yard, I realized I sounded like so many new business owners out there. They don’t realize the effort, cost and most importantly importance of a well designed and properly maintained web site when they are thinking about start up costs and business practices.

Gardening and landscape work are not critical my life as a homeowner. As long as I do the basic maintenance, our yard will not be too shameful. But your web site is different, make the investment and make sure you’re not the eyesore of the internet.

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