Why Building a Website is Like Moving House

by Valerie McLean

Property fever has overtaken tictoc - with so many members of the team buying a new home or making a move, we’ve come to realise the parallels between moving house and building a website

Buying a house is super exciting: you find that perfect home, it makes you feel all fuzzy inside!

But whether you’re investing a preloved home, or buying a new build, there are always going to be areas for improvement: you don’t like the living room wallpaper, the garden needs landscaped and so on.

Before you even have the keys, you’re already planning the next phase!

Move-in day arrives - and suddenly, the list of things to do seems massive! At this point, most of us begin to try to figure out a starting point and the approach needed.

Sound familiar? That’s because it follows the same principles of agile project management!

This is the way we approach our website builds: bit by bit, piece by piece, prioritising the most important pain points as we go. The main difference is that your website doesn’t just have to please you and your family, living in the house. It has to fulfil your organisation’s goals and of course, your user’s needs, all whilst ensuring people can find it through search engines, social media and other channels.

It’s not quite as simple as a fresh lick of paint - but that’s what we’re here for.

The first step is a user mapping workshop (worthy of a blog post in itself!)

We sit with you and your stakeholders to establish what your users want, considering both internal and external needs. This gives us an overall picture of what the site needs to do, the user journeys involved and a basic site structure forms.

Journey icon

By approaching your project in this way, this allows us to see your functionality requirements early in the process, what the “Minimum Viable Product” is to get you up and running, and creates a wish list for future iterations of the site. Your MVP is essentially the shell of the building needed to make your home habitable. The little luxuries are added to a future plan - this stage of the project is much like your decoration wish list for your house, a project management Pinterest board as such!

After establishing your most important goals and requirements from the workshop, we move onto forming some basic site styles and begin to develop a basic sitemap to establish the solid foundations of your project.

Move-in (launch) day approaches…

With the user journeys, priorities and basic styles decided, the build on your project begins. We focus on one area of your MVP at a time, until everything is built up and tested thoroughly.

At this point your can launch your website, if you like - or move in, to follow the house analogy.

However, the rest of the wish list is sitting waiting for us to get started on, so it becomes a decision of priority. Is it more important for you as an organisation to launch a new website for an event, or is it more important to have some enhanced features on the site before you show the world?

Every page on the site will exist for you to fill with copy and images, but some pages need a few little extras to bring the content to life. Ask yourself, does my content meet my user’s needs?

We only ever launch when you are happy that your user and organisational needs will be met.

All launches are accompanied by a roadmap and plan of which features will be developed next and their order - the same way that you get your house in order and can start to relax and live in it the way you want safe in the knowledge that all those niggles will be fixed.

The thing about a website is that it should always be a work in progress, like your home. It is never finished, there is always something that you can be doing to improve and make things better for the people who use it. As the months progress, monthly reports and analysis will help to inform your decisions and prioritisation for the next stages of your site.

Launching your website is just the beginning.

Of course, the other issue to contend with is that sometimes your plans may run off-course. Things may crop up that disrupt the roadmap - such as an urgent campaign. With the way we work, thats not a problem.

We work on each element individually, so when issues arise that need to be prioritised over other things, we move things around in the roadmap. It’s like replacing the kitchen flooring because of a leak before you buy that beautiful lamp you’ve had your eye on!

Prioritisation is one of the most important things about building a website. Concentrate on one thing at a time and do it well before you move on to something else - but make sure you are working on the right things at the right time.

So, next time you think about making some home improvements or approaching a large website build - think about how you can break the tasks down. It’ll cut down on the headaches, big time!

Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help - just get in touch.