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

June 21, 2018 | Website Design and Redesign

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I first wrote this post six years ago. But as my interest in gardening has grown and websites continue to grow in complexity and importance, I again found myself comparing sites and landscaping.

This Spring, I have spent a lot of time doing gardening, yard work, and landscaping projects. 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 website and social media. I don’t even know if there is a difference between all of those words?

I grew up in a house in the woods. Before my husband and I bought our home in Portland, Maine, in 2006, I had little experience with yard work. After that, I lived in college dorms, apartments, and finally, a condo in Chicago.

Then we bought our house. We realized that yard work takes a lot of time and energy.

When we were touring 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, and maintain our small raised-bed vegetable garden.

As I heard myself thinking about our yard, I realized I sounded like so many new business owners. Like I did not fully understand all that’s involved with maintaining my yard, many business owners are confused or overwhelmed with maintaining an effective website for their business. They don’t learn the effort, cost, and, most importantly, the importance of a well-designed and adequately maintained website when thinking about start-up costs and business practices.

When you start a business these days, you have to think about how you will maintain your website. 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.

Curb appeal: Your website and your yard

I live in a neighborhood filled with beautiful gardens… And then there is our place. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an eyesore, but it’s 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 neighbor’s beautiful yard

This weekend, I wanted to spend time in the yard cleaning up. I started to tackle the weedy mess 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 had no plan!) Luckily, my talented neighbor came by and offered to give me some of her successful ground cover plans. Together, we worked to fix up one spot in the corner of my yard.

Our small landscaping project
Our small landscaping project.

Grow a beautiful, healthy website

How much time do you have?

Many people don’t wish to be active gardeners. They want their landscaping to be as carefree as possible. Similarly, many business owners want a website that’s easy to maintain and can be updated quickly and easily. When you plant exotic roses, you must expect to put in more effort to keep them healthy and thriving. When you have your website built, think about who will do the updates and do they have the skills, drive, and tools to do it.

Realistically, neither your yard nor your website can be ignored completely. But only create the garden and the site that you have the means to maintain.

What is the purpose?

Some people want a functional garden. They plant vegetables and flowers for cutting. This is like having an e-commerce website: the site must produce! Similarly, an e-commerce site must be designed to make sales first and foremost. A thriving vegetable garden may be less beautiful than some landscaping choices, but it gets results.

Be intentional

Weeds seem to be the superheroes of the natural world. They grow and thrive with little effort in nearly any condition. If you neglect your yard entirely, it will likely turn to weeds.

If you have never created a website, what happens when someone googles your business? They won’t find anything. It’s much more likely that there will be a bunch of unwanted, messy directory-style listings that show up. The weeds of the internet, you might say.

Every house needs a yard, and every business needs a website.

Do it yourself or hire a pro?

You don’t have to do it yourself. If you don’t enjoy yard work and do a poor job with gardening, hiring a landscape designer to get you started or a landscaping company to mow, prune, and cleanup is worthwhile. Have you also noticed that landscaping companies have leaf blowers, wood chippers, and teams of employees? Like professional web designers, they have better tools and more experience and are entirely dedicated to getting your work done.

What are your goals?

Most people want a decent-looking yard and a decent-looking website. However, some people go far beyond this for each. Some people want an award-winning landscape, or they want to be able to grow enough vegetables to feed their family through the winter. Other people want to look like respectable members of their neighborhood. Likewise, your website may primarily confirm your professionalism, or it may be the core of your business generating significant revenues in online sales.

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