It’s not uncommon to hear some people say, “I don’t know a thing about websites”. With URLs, splash pages, microsites, and plugins, the world of websites can seem overwhelming. There are an abundance of options available from custom-built, build-your-own, in addition to all the technical details, which are another language altogether. But if we can think of websites as houses, complete with addresses, basements, renovations, and appliances, you can begin to understand without needing the technical knowledge.
Whether with a house or a website, everyone likes to have an address that’s easy to remember, and easy to find. A website, like a house, should only have one address (domain name or URL) so that people or the GPS doesn’t get confused. If a new website is built and gets a new domain name, a re-direct can be set-up similar to the way a forwarding address can be set-up at the post office so that visitors are automatically redirected to the new address.
A contractor for a custom-built house will source the materials like the wood framing, concrete base, plumbing, and insulation. At Incite, we gather the materials such as brochures, annual report and other previously published content, as well as the foundation like the hosting login information, and with these materials in-hand we construct the website. We make sure that it is delivered to you completely furnished (with content), beautifully finished (design), appliances (technical features), and that your address is set up and registered at the post office (submitted to search engines). The custom websites that we build reflect a company or organization’s brand and market position so that it conveys a strong, cohesive message to visitors.
Microsites are built as an offshoot of the house. Some garages might maintain the same look as the house (e.g., corporate microsites), while others might look completely different (e.g., campaign microsites). Like a garage, microsites are smaller and can only fit so much so that people can still walk around (navigate) and find what they are looking for.
A campaign microsite is like a garage sale, where the ultimate goal may differ – it may be to sell a product, service, or idea. A visitor is likely to ask questions (click through to several pages), spend time looking around (read the site content), and is ultimately encouraged to do or buy something (follow through on the call to action).
In the TV show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a coach bus is parked in front until the house is ready to be revealed. The bus can act like a billboard of what is being constructed – holding the place and building anticipation for the reveal. A splash page could preview the website’s colours, name, and some contact information so that visitors know that it is currently under construction. A splash page is a cost-effective way to alert users that there will be a website built at the current URL, and create excitement for the finished product.
Intranets are often where you store all the extra or private information and items you don’t want just anyone visiting the house to see. The stuff in the basement is often reserved for family and close friends (e.g., employees and board members). Intranets require login information similar to a key needed for a locked basement. Some Intranets can be simple, like an unfinished basement where the insulation is showing; or they can be finished and look as polished as the rest of the house.
This house costs less, and is built very quickly, but looks the same as everyone else’s on the block. You can hire a contractor to add some additional finishings like crown moulding and paint the exterior to make it look a little different, but the options are limited. In the end, it is presentable, but not very unique and it will have the same interior layout as other houses.
In the end, contracting a custom website out to a reputable professional developer is the premium solution because they will ensure that your address is recognized, and that you have a beautiful, functional house where visitors will want to stay for a while. If your website also employs strategic marketing (as Incite’s do), visitors will be more likely to return to it often, and recommend it to their peers.
Digital Project Manager and Content Strategist