Stop building websites and start cultivating gardens

Web designers and their clients can get caught up in the building of the website structure, how it looks and the cool shiny features the site has. Like a building, it stands firm and tall as visitors enter and exit. The owner and web designer/architect look proudly at their creation and think all is good.

But websites aren't for the owner or the web designer … they're for the visitor aren't they? So when someone comes to the website our goal is not to show off our creation, it's to answer the visitors needs. It's to keep the visitor engaged in the website providing them what they came for.

In this context and with the reality of a constantly changing Internet, I suggest cultivating a garden rather than erecting a building. Think back to when you've walked into a wonderful garden. The wafting smells, the incredible colours, the diverse flowers at different times of the year. You are attracked to some flowers over others and stop to take a closer look or even smell. You get lost in the moment and time disappears.

Think of your website like the structure of the garden and your content like the flowers. Both compliment each other and, like a garden, content is placed where it fits the best. Like flowers in a healthy garden, content needs to get pruned and the dead ones replaced with new ones. The gardener constantly tends the garden ensuring it's health, knowing neglect will kill it.

As websites become communication hubs, it's time we realized they are living, breathing gardens, not architectural, ego-boosting buildings.