EST 1980
Car salesman displaying car under cloth

Dec 9, 2015

How Designing a Website is Like Buying a Car

Gini Queen headshot
by Gini Queen
Although not obvious, there are a lot of parallels when you think of designing a website compared to buying a car.
You have to consider thing such as design, upgrades, mobility…allow me to elaborate.


Every time I’ve been asked, “How much does a website cost?” my first thought is to ask them if they’ve ever visited a car dealership and asked, “How much does a car cost?” Of course I don’t verbalize that thought, but the parallel is stunning.
Just like you wouldn’t expect to be able to buy a Ferrari for the price of a Kia, you can’t have a website with “all the bells and whistles” for the cost of a one-page site with a contact page.
When you sit down at a car dealership, the first things the salesperson should ask (if he’s worth his salt!) are, “What kind of options would you like? Heated steering wheel? Custom paint? Convertible? Sport package?” The same can be said when meeting with a designer to discuss your wants and needs for a website. “E-commerce capability? ? Password protected capabilities for certain areas?” Just like leather seats, any “upgrades” to a basic website wireframe is an additional cost, and 9 times out of 10, well worth it.


Again, using the car analogy, you can’t expect the same performance from a Mini Cooper as you would from a Jeep when going off-roading—and if you try, you’re going to quickly find out how important heavy-duty shock absorbers and knobby tires are!
Different websites require different functionality, depending on the degree of expectation. First, determine and analyze the basic, practical functions you absolutely have to have on your website, then go one step further and think about future needs. It’s better to spend more up front to make sure your website can add those capabilities in the future, rather than the need to have your site completely rebuilt in a year because you’ve “outgrown” the platform it was originally built on.


When you buy a “gently used” economy vehicle with over 150,000 miles on it, you should already be aware that it’s not going to last long. Sure, it will get you to the grocery store and back a few days a week for a while, but again, you get what you pay for.
While reasonably priced, DIY websites are risky. Not only can you not “kick the tires,” if you will, but the ability to add options, expand pages, and make sure it adheres to the ever-changing Google standards for websites aren’t guaranteed either. It’s like being placed behind the wheel and being expected to “drive” without ever having driven before!


When you buy a Mercedes, you can receive a “bumper-to-bumper” lifetime service agreement—a huge benefit when you’re thinking long-term investment. This same mindset should be applied when considering making the investment of a website. Depending where the website is being “manufactured” (piecemealed in your garage from discount parts vs. custom manufactured by a master “web” mechanic), you could find out the hard way that your website isn’t covered with a long-term service agreement (much less any kind of back-up support team if something goes awry).
Many people have an “If I build it, they will come” attitude about their website, when there is nothing farther from the truth. Just because a website is live to, very literally, the entire world, doesn’t mean the whole world will find it. Like a well-oiled machine, your website needs regular maintenance to deliver peak performance. A  with a robust CMS and a technician to monitor “behind-the-scenes” analytics and make adjustments as needed (think of it as website pit stops) will always out-perform the “kit” sites built in backyard garages.
What kind of car would you compare your website to? Tell us below.