Jun 9, 2016

Redesigning A Website is Like Buying A House

Redoing your website is like buying a new house. It’s just a really expensive shopping trip, and getting new stuff is fun.

You pick an agent, and you start shopping, comforted by a smooth talking salesperson who guarantees to make you happier than you’ve ever been thanks to the perfect house. Similarly, you pick a sexy marketing agency, look at their portfolio and they convince you they can make your brand amazing.

Back to homes. You look at houses full of possibilities. Some have fantastic kitchens, some have game rooms, some have gardens to die for. And you think, “I’ve always wanted to get into gardening.” “We have always thought it would be cool to get a pool table.” “Oh look, there’s a gourmet kitchen: we could throw huge parties.”

It’s easy to do, but don’t fool yourself. Unless you garden already, you’re not going to. Unless you’re already throwing huge parties that overflow into the streets, this is probably not you. It’s a fantasy version of you. (Just like the management team who thinks they need to start a blog and swears they will write blogs regularly). And the home buying process lets you believe it until the day you move in, when the real “you” comes back into focus.

Moving forces you to sort through all your crap. You can methodically sort through everything, decide what to keep, sell, give away or replace in the move. If you do it well, you move into your new home that’s perfectly laid out for your life and the essential stuff you want in it.

But lots of people choose houses the same way they buy websites. They pick a new place that looks better than their old one, they move in, and they shuffle all their current stuff into the new house. Then, they get used to the new layout, working around the same clutter they’ve always had, but now in their new home.

A year later, they find that the game room sits empty, and the family has only used the pool table once. The artistic garden that beckoned during the open house tour has turned to brown weeds — all because they bought the house based on some imaginary set of desires rather than their own realistic needs.

That gourmet kitchen for entertaining the friends you don’t entertain is the blog you thought your company would manage. The empty game room is the website knowledge center that’s missing articles you really thought you would write. The vision didn’t match the reality, and now you don’t know how to fix it.

Think about moving like this: 

Instead of choosing your next house or deciding to move at all, first look at your current house and the things inside it. What’s in the rooms? Who uses them? Are people happy there? Is there enough room to do what you want? Is there too much space for things you don’t have? Maybe you can move around the furniture. . Maybe you need to remodel some rooms. Or maybe you truly need a brand new house, with a completely different configuration.

So how come it’s easier to design a new website than it is to actually launch it? The same reason buying a house is exciting, but moving sucks. Your website is your house. Your content is the stuff inside it that your family and friends use.

Whether you’re buying a house or redoing a website, you can make your next decision work better if you take the time to really consider what your people need, how they need to live/work, and where they need things located. If you do, you’ll be sure your next website/house is exactly right for you. With no gardens of weeds or lonely pool tables.

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