Why is building a website like building a house?

Eva Pettifor


June 2016


It struck me the other day that as a web designer, my work shares some traits with professionals in the building industry. Funnily I have worked in this field in my younger years as a drafter so perhaps this was a natural progression to what I am doing today.

Building a website vs building a house:

  • Price and quality of both fields will vary, from the cheap DIY option to the high end designers
  • A website and house both need plans before they can commence construction
  • They both have an 'under construction' process
  • They both need a solid foundation to function properly
  • There are many different 'tradies' associated with each stream eg for websites there is design, code, graphics etc... vs builder who has drafter, architect, interior designer and more
  • They both have a staged payment process
  • Pricing will vary for each service and requires a detailed quotation, for example asking how much it costs for a website is like asking how much it costs for a house
  • Both end results come in different colours, styles, sizes, (nice looking or ugly...)
  • Both designs can either be 'off the plan' (or from a pre-designed template) or completely custom designed and built (or anything in between) - pricing will reflect on the level of customisation for each project
  • Builders and web designers have different specialities - for example some web designers focus on small business, eCommerce or a certain business sector niche whereas builders might specialise in homes, skyscrapers or renovations
  • Some builders won't finish another builder's job, some web designers won't finish another web designer's job
  • Some builders don't do house extensions or renovations (they specialise in new constructions), some web designers also don't extend onto an existing website or fix an old website (they specialise in upgrading their own sites or creating brand new ones)
  • Both constructions can be attacked by outside forces, houses can be damaged by termites if not treated, websites can be hacked if not properly protected
  • There is usually a handover stage for both professions
  • Both end products (a house and a website) age, are subject to trends in the industry and require ongoing maintenance to look up to date and function well

I can think of more, but my list is getting too long already and I don't want to get carried away. Both fields are obviously VERY different but these are some of the similarities I have experienced over the years. This blog article isn't in my usual style of 'helpful tips' but I find it a useful comparison particularly in the quoting process when potential clients ask 'how much does it cost for a website?' I would say it is similar to asking how long is a piece of string, or how much does it cost to build a house...

Eva Pettifor

Founder and project manager at Darwin Web


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