As my life and the state of renovations around our house finally allow me space to muck about in the dirt, I see that gardening is a metaphor for all sorts of things. Perhaps that’s because as one performs the physically consuming tasks of casting out weeds, heaving sod and coaxing plants, the mind wanders in fruitful directions.

I also find myself doing lots of websites these days, and there are many similarities between the two enterprises. Predominantly, both suffer immediately and disastrously from neglect. Weeds grow and choke out the pretty or useful stuff. At one point in our lives, we left our house to a non-gardening renter for two years. There was practically nothing left in the beds by the time we returned. Fortunately, my garden acquisition methodology involves a wheelbarrow and jaunts through the neighbourhood in early spring to find out what others have too much of in their own gardens. I figure, if it’s growing in someone else’s garden to excess, it will grow in mine.

And so it goes with websites. They grow stale and choke without constant attention. Many clients come having not updated their backend or frontend for longer than they know. It doesn’t take long until sites look dated, cluttered and cold. Websites need to be active and fresh, which requires that they be easy to update and analyze.

Watching the analytics is like picking out the weeds—you can see pretty clearly what parts of the site aren’t bearing fruit and which ones are. You clear out the non-desirables and give the good bits more room to flourish. It’s not a once-and-done deal. Like gardens, tending an exuberant website is an iterative activity. Daily, weekly, monthly. Always something to do.

And I often wheelbarrow around virtually, scanning websites to see what’s fresh and new. It fuels the imagination and sparks creativity. No two gardens or websites are ever the same, even if many of the components are. Each has its own unique creator, audience and growing environment. A wealth of diversity to dig in and explore.