There are few things I enjoy more than a beautiful garden. They provide a soothing escape from real world stress and unpleasantness.
It would be nice it they did, but amazing gardens don't just grow naturally and spring up all by themselves. They are large scale creative undertakings, part architecture, part art and require lots of tender loving care.
Actually, I often use landscaped gardens as analogies for other creative projects. Like a website design and construction for example.
We recently completed a website redesign for Naperville, Illinois based landscape builders Doug's Construction Co. and thought this was a good opportunity to test my favorite analogy.
HOW A GOOD WEBSITE IS SIMILAR TO A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN
Both begin with planning
To be a successful design, both a website and a garden must be well planned out before breaking ground on construction. The concept, style and content require creativity but the development work and execution also need careful planning to assure the finished product turns out as expected.
The best environments are built on a firm foundation. It's called the bones of a garden. The structural pieces such as walkways, seating areas and other structures and features. These elements are permanently in place give the space function as well as visual cohesion.
In a website the foundation is the underlying visual grid, navigation, information architecture and user interface. Like a garden walk, they clearly define the visitors path and pace through the space. The layout must be well organized and presented. A good foundation signals there is something special within the space and entices in those who stop by.
Proper construction techniques
To hold up well and last, both natural and digital environments must be built with proven techniques, using good quality materials, a strong framework and craftsmanship. Brick paving for example, requires a heavy well-compacted gravel base. Likewise, a website performs much better when the backend, programming and development work are well-built to the latest technical standards.
Once the structural elements are in place they will support the pieces that make the environment interesting and alluring. Plants, flowers, trees, furniture, art and other features like fountains make a garden appealing. Engaging writing, images and graphic design keep a visitor's interest when strolling through a website.
A pleasurable journey
Exploring a website should be an enjoyable experience, whether its purpose is to entertain, educate, or sell products. A visitor should easily find their way around and take pleasure in the journey. This is usually the main purpose of a creatively designed landscape.
Points of interest along the way
Little discoveries and pleasant surprises make a visit more memorable. Treat your guests to a few unexpected finds or moments and they will feel better about the experience and look forward to returning to your garden or website.
Ongoing maintenance routine
Maintenance is not the most glamorous part of the project but a necessity for both garden and online spaces. Regular monitoring and upkeep are important to keep both looking and functioning their very best.
Updating site plugins and themes are like weeding and pruning. But maintenance can also be an opportunity to make improvements. If certain plants are not growing well they can be moved or replaced with better or more appropriate varieties. Weaker parts of your website can similarly be edited, removed, repurposed or transplanted to a sunnier space where they may be noticed and more appreciated!
WEBSITE REDESIGN PROJECT DETAILS
I first met Doug Deetjen through a construction project when living in the Chicago area. Doug's Construction Co. began as home builders before becoming outdoor brick and masonry specialists.
Graphite & Lead were called upon to redesign, build and launch was the company's website and bring it up to current standards. The budget was fairly modest. But like a garden, not all the work needs to be done at once. A website can be planted and then improved in phases over time.
It is important for visitors and search engine results to keep a website fresh and updated with new content. This helps build traffic as time goes on and also allows the business owner to spread out the financial investment.
Like a good garden, a thoughtful and attractive online space takes, planning, a good structural foundation, solid construction, a worthwhile journey and finally ongoing maintenance to keep it looking its best. Please give us a call if you need help cultivating your website and online plot.