Why Your Website Should be a Garden Not a Building

on February 19, 2014

Over the last week, we stumbled upon a great video from Paul Boag explaining some of his top reasons for continual investment in a website. He hits on several great points but one of those that stood out most to us was his comparison of a website as a garden vs. a building. The original concept was conceived by Seth Godin but Paul does a phenomenal job of elaborating.

Paul opens by explaining how building a website often seems to be an endless process. A process that is littered with the frustrations of the back and forth relationship between the client, the design iterations, and testing. All of those things can and sometimes do take forever. By the time that the site actually goes live it can already feel out of date. He continues to explain that you are often also dealing with clients who do not understand that they need to maintain and update their website on an on going basis.

What is the Garden Analogy?

“A lot of people see their website as a building.” In most cases with a building you plan it, you build it, you’re done. However a website should instead be like a garden. Think of these three needs of a garden:

  1. It needs pruning.
  2. It needs nurturing.
  3. It needs caring for.

By doing these three actions you’ll see growth, and allow for your website to evolve and change over time. The longer a garden is there and established, the better it becomes. This concept can also apply to the web. Especially when it comes to pruning content. There are a number of clients that will keep adding more and more content to their website and never prune back. As a result, it comes to no surprise that most websites end up looking more like overgrown gardens.

From here Paul continues to describe other methods to encourage website investment. One of these methods that also relates closely to the garden analogy was the The False Economy Argument.

This argument is one that works on the boom and bust of redesign cycles. In most cases, when a new website is launched everyone loves it. Then, overtime, it becomes out of date: The design is dated, the technology is no longer appropriate, and there are often far better ways of doing things. Since the content isn’t maintained, and the content isn’t removed the website slowly decays. At this point, you are no longer getting anything out of the website. Time for a redesign…

The site is new and awesome for awhile but then the whole cycle repeats itself like a bad case of Groundhog Day!

You will deal with a constant boom and bust of redesigns for two reasons:

  1. Your website is only effective for the small length of time that it is still alive.
  2. Almost every time you do a redesign the client will throw everything out and start over again. The good, the bad, it’s all thrown on the heap and cast aside.

Much like maintaining a healthy garden, you must constantly look for ways to keep the website fresh and up to date. Just as with watering a garden and pruning it, if you leave these crucial steps out your website will slowly decay. At the same time, knowing what is a weed and needs to be thrown out and what should be pruned will save you valuable time and create a thriving website full of useful and relevant content.

If you’d like to check out the original video from Paul Boag: bit.ly/1bjeWC5

Or his personal site: boagworld.com