The Design Portfolio of Andrew Brynjulson

Writing

A collection of design musings, work and work in progress.

The Website Analogy That Always Works For Me

 

How building a website is like building a house in 10 steps.

 
Fixer Upper Title
 

Full disclosure:

  1. I constantly speak in metaphors, similes and analogies. 
  2. My wife and I have spent the last year renovating our house.
  3. We watch a lot of HGTV.

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

Sometimes our clients are super savvy about what goes into building a website. They've done it before and don't have to be schooled. They get it.

More often, they don't. 

It's perfectly fine. We don't expect clients to be web experts; that's why they hired us. But it means that it falls to us to educate clients so that they can make decisions and feel confident in the process.

To do that, we’ve gone all-in the “home-building” analogy.

Observe:

"What's a wireframe?"

"It's like the blueprint of your house. It's the step where we plan the layout, where rooms are, where walls are, and how traffic flows."

"Like on Fixer Upper?"

"Like on Fixer Upper."

And just like that, we can move on. Thanks, Chip and Joanna.


THE FULL PROCESS

The house analogy is effective because it's an approachable common ground between our two worlds. Shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Flip Or Flop and Love It Or List It are making the "reno" lingo part of the common vernacular. So we've borrowed it.

For us, the value is in taking a complex, technical process and making it approachable. We want the client to be involved from planning to design to development to launch and everything in between. That's hard to do if their eyes are always glazing over.

We’ve distilled our workflow down to some big picture steps for the client to follow along with, without getting overwhelmed.

Here's how we carry that house metaphor through to the full process:

  1. Project Kickoff (in-person) – Getting to know you and deciphering what kind of house you’re looking for.
     
  2. Sitemap – Your house “wishlist."
     
  3. Wireframe – The blueprint of your house.
     
  4. Design – Interior design planning and architectural drawings of surfaces and finishes in your house.
     
  5. Begin Development – The initial stages of a home build-out when foundation is laid and walls are erected. 
     
  6. Launch Stage Site – On-site walkthrough of your house’s building progress.
     
  7. Training – Final walkthrough of your house to learn the ins and outs.
     
  8. Populate Content – Moving in furniture, clothes, dishes, art, etc.
     
  9. Final Review – The big reveal to see the finished product.
     
  10. Launch – Throwing your house-warming party.
     

We know that websites are infinitely more complex than this list reflects. But it allows us to better communicate with clients in a way that keeps them engaged throughout the process. At the same time, there is enough wiggle room for us to deal with complexities that inevitably arise.

Now if only we had the same profit margins as those celebrity renovators on HGTV. 

 


~Andrew Brynjulson is a Sioux Falls-based freelance designer and art director specializing in logo, web and brand design. He often writes about art, design, marketing and business. Share your thoughts, @BrenniFresh.