Are you starting to get into the holiday spirit yet? If not, let me sing you a little tune. “Up on the house top click, click, click. How a website is like building a house.” I know that’s not how it goes, but that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
This idea about a website being like building a house, came from talking with a prospect. Both are a series of systems that all support each other. If you skimp on the quality of one system, it can degrade or devalue the overall structure.
This prospect has a business where they’re trying to raise money so they can build a larger manufacturing facility for their business. After we went through the discovery call, I started asking a bunch of questions. One of the things determined was that they really had three separate businesses. One was a wholesale business, and that’s what the manufacturing is for. They want to create more product to sell to more vendors. The second part of that business is a retail store and they also sell at farmers markets. Then, there’s the online component.
When I started asking about the percentages, where was the most money made, it was obvious it was in the wholesale side of the business. One of the things that I tried to get across is that each one of those businesses needed a different house. The reason they needed a different house is because the systems inside of each should be different.
For example, if you’re going to build a manufacturing facility, the electric generally, is 220 volts for the type of machinery that you need. Yes, you may have 110 volt outlets (like in your home), but a manufacturing process generally needs more voltage to deal with the industrial machines. If you’re going to build a wholesale website, the audience is different. The tools are different. The way it works is different, so you don’t want to have only one platform to house all three of those businesses.
How Is A Website Like Building A House?
What I want to do today is talk about how a website is like a house. One of the things that this prospect expressed is she did not have the money to hire agencies. She wanted to hire a marketing person to come in and take care of all her construction and marketing activities. I understand trying to do things inexpensively, but is that in the best interest of that business?
When you start to look at agencies, they do one of two things. They either act as an architect, they help you design the concepts around your business needs and model. It’s like what I do as a website coach for businesses. The other kind of agency is more of a general contractor which is what I do as well. I work with a team of people that have very specific skill sets to handle each one of these pieces.
So how do we define the parts of a website as if you were building a house (or a manufacturing facility)?
The foundation is what you’re building everything upon. On the website side of things, that is the hosting platform on which you’re building your business. A hosting platform can be a plot of land. You might want to have three different foundations for three different websites, but you want to make sure that you own the land and control what it is that you’re building this house on, right? You don’t want to build on something where you can’t control the design and construction.
In the case of hosting, you can rent a server, but a lot of times what people do is they look for that modular fix. They’ll find a platform that not only does the hosting, but does the email and then has a web-building tool. Those kind, like a Weebly or Squarespace, can be great tools for starters, but it’s not going to give you the solid foundation that’s going to help you build up and build out as your business expands and grows. They often have closed systems and limitations. So, you want to make sure that you start out with a very solid foundation.
The next piece of the house is the carpentry. It’s the framing. I consider the framing of a website to be the platform which you build upon and the theme. As an example, a platform could be WordPress or Drupal or something of that nature, where it’s updated and maintained.
The second part of this is the theme. The theme can be simple to complex, but great themes like Divi and others have tools that are built into them. Divi includes an integrated page and posts building tool. Other themes include extensions like WPBakery or Elementor, which are building blocks that allow you to create pretty complex websites. A lot of times they’ll include additional plug-ins like WooCommerce and WP forms as trial plugins to get you started, so that you can build even further. This is where you may need a good web developer to help you frame the website correctly and allow it to grow later.
Exterior & Landscaping
The next piece is the exterior. It’s the front entrance of your home. This can include the brick, the siding, the roofing, and even the front door and the landscaping. This is where a good designer comes in. They can help you lay out a very pleasing branding and design for your homepage and internal pages. You will want to have a solid design that creates a cohesive look and feel that will carry throughout the web user experience.
Each website should be designed based on the audience that you’re going to be speaking to.
The next system inside of that house is the electrical. This is where the energy happens and it’s captured power. This is the site content. You want to make sure that you’re using somebody who knows how to create energy for your visitors, somebody who knows how to write great website content, but also understands SEO, so search engines can find your website. The text is the core of the user experience. Remember, you are writing for the reader. Having good SEO text is a bonus, but you don’t want to sacrifice your message readability to rank better in Google. Google does not buy your product or services.
The next piece is the plumbing. Now I’m partial to this because of my book, Toilet Paper Math. Sometimes you just have to flush the content out, like at the end of the year, make sure that your website is current.
But I consider plumbing the flow through the website or the navigation. I’ve actually worked on a website that had 200 plus pages, but no search capability. It made it really hard for people to find the content that they wanted. Leakey plumbing can cause major damage. You want to make sure that you work with a good UI or user interface person to help you figure out how people navigate (flow through) your website content.
The next piece is the HVAC or the heating and air conditioning. This is the air that flows through your website. Fresh content is like fresh air. This is where the blogs and the podcasts and the awareness graphics create freshness. This will be the new content that draws in the audience which helps to keep them coming back and wanting more.
It also feeds you content to share on social media. In this case, you may need three different people, a good blog writer, a good designer to do graphics and art, or maybe somebody who’s going to focus on just your social media. That person should understand the quirks with multiple platforms where your audience may be hanging out. An experienced social media person with good content can lead people back to your website.
The last system I want to talk about is the security system. There’s two parts to this. There’s the internal alarm when somebody tries to break a window or comes in. It’s the alarm that happens in the house. That is the anti-hacking system like Wordfence or Security. Those are tools that a good programmer is going to set up to stop people from breaking in and disrupting your business.
But the other side of that is the alarm monitoring company. That’s where you want to employ tools like Google Alerts, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console. You want to have somebody who knows how to read that and provide you feedback on how you could improve your website user experience. That would be a good traffic coach.
Hopefully, you can see how a website is like a house. It’s a series of systems that usually requires people with specific expertise to make them work well and work together. You may want to employ a team to support your business. You don’t necessarily want your architect installing your electrical, and planting and caring for your landscaping. To build a solid house, you have to work to your strengths and hire to your weaknesses.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how a website is like building a house. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?