I love comparing a website to a home. There are many ways in which they are similar: ownership, costs to own, etc. Let’s dive in.
1. Curb Appeal
Obviously “curb appeal” refers to how a house looks from the street. The grass should be cut, weeds should be pulled, the windows and siding should be clean, etc. A website is absolutely no different. Typically, the home page is the first thing a visitor sees. This is where that curb appeal comes into play. If you haven’t hooked in the visitor there, they may not want to stay and look around at everything else.
Visitors should also know what to do when they see your website. With so much content out there on the internet, the best thing to do is to make things simple and straight-forward for your website visitors.
Before scrolling, people should have answers to the following:
- Who are you?
- What service do you offer?
- How do I proceed with a purchase or contact?
Think of it like going to a new friend’s house for the first time. You know you’ve arrived because the house is clearly marked. There is only one front door, so you know where you’re supposed to go. There is a beautiful, well-maintained garden and stone path.
The front door is what I’d compare to a call to action (CTA). Tell people what you want them to do. Make it stand out. Don’t make them hunt for it. For service-based businesses, this is likely to be some form of “learn more” or “book a call.”
2. Domain: Address
In the simplest of terms, your domain is your website address such as ktmdigital.co. Okay, technically speaking, your website is found at an IP address, which is a bunch of numbers and periods; however, that’s not how people identify it. They think of “KTM Digital” or “Google,” etc.
Just like you pay property taxes to own the land at an address, you have to pay a registrar (such as namecheap) in order to own a domain. It’s an annual cost, and can be as low as just a few bucks per year. If it’s in high demand, or is owned by someone else, you might be negotiating on the price.
You have to tell people where to find your home, and you do this by giving them your street address. Similarly, you have to tell your registrar where to find your website. Your designer or developer will do this for you.
3. Hosting: Land
Hosting refers to the storage of the physical files which comprise your website. This is all the “stuff” people see when they go to your website. When someone gets to your address, they will find a physical home.
But you can’t just move into any property and make it your own. You need to buy it and pay taxes, insurance, etc. Just like property taxes, you pay a host a monthly or annual fee in order to house your website on their servers.
What about renting an apartment instead? That’s fine! But guess what? You’re still paying to live somewhere. In this instance, you’re only paying for the right to live somewhere and not to own the building. You’re only allowed to change what the Landlord says you can. This is basically what platforms like Wix and other DIY builder sites are. You’re limited to what features they offer, and you don’t actually own your website. They’re not all-around bad. There is a time and a place for them, but it’s important to know what you’re getting. Nate Shivar gives a thorough explanation here.
4. Maintenance required!
Ah yes… maintenance. Like anything worth owning, a website requires maintenance. It’s not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. No, you need to update it! You mow your lawn, clean your HVAC filters, change light bulbs… do I need to go on? A website is no different, and in fact, regular updates are GREAT for SEO! You’ll want to go in at least monthly to update your plugins. I do this weekly for all of my care plan clients.
Perhaps you’ve got the knowledge needed but not the time. Just like you can choose to buy in a neighborhood with an HOA plan & fee, you can opt to pay someone to maintain and update your website.
It is important to note that, no matter what, you always have on file the following things in case you decide to switch vendors. Any future designer or developer will need access to these places in order to do all the tech things behind the scenes.
- Registrar/where your domain is registered
- Login credentials for the registrar above
- Hosting company
- Login credentials for the above host