It’s that time of year again.
On the south side of my house, there’s a flower bed that stretches the entire length of the house, teeming with fragrant flowers, colorful blooms, and vibrant greenery. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year where it’s overflowing with weeds, creating an aesthetic that is closer to “unkempt and wild” than it is to “deliberately planted.” After putting it off for weeks, I chose a day that was sunny but not too hot, grabbed my trowel and went to work pulling up the inch tall grasses and clovers that were fighting leaf and stem for sunlight.
I painstakingly wound my way through the zinnia patch, pulling up each little green grass cluster by the roots until only the zinnia stems remained. I worked my way through the poppies, lupines, and a plethora of other blooms until I came across a patch that was running thick with milkweed. With the utmost care, I pulled each unwanted plant out, until only the tiny milkweed sprouts remained. With the milkweed patch now weed-free, I was finally finished.
What Constitutes a Weed?
If you take a drive through the rural midwest during the summer, you’ll probably notice ditches that are lined with gangly milkweed, broad leaves stretching out to catch dust kicked up by the passing cars. Like dandelions, it will sprout up through cracks in the pavement and will take over abandoned lots if left unchecked. It grows like a weed, looks like a weed, and even has “weed” in the name; in what world would milkweed be left behind when other weeds get pulled?
Recently I’ve taken quite a liking to milkweed. It provides food for the declining Monarch population, has a beautiful broadleaf which I find aesthetically pleasing, and in some cases produces gorgeous flowers. When I was choosing plants for my flower beds this year, I deliberately set aside a small plot just for milkweed to grow. Many people still think it’s a weed; I don’t.
A weed is anything that is growing where it isn’t wanted. The maple seedlings that I pulled out of my flower beds by the hundreds? Weeds. What about the delightful silver maple that made the seeds? Not a weed. The grass in my lawn wasn’t a weed before I pulled it out to make a flower bed, but now that it’s trying to come back up through my flowers it is. There aren’t any hard and fast rules that constitute what makes a weed, except what you want to grow.
Weeds and the Web
Just like my garden, websites grow weeds. The content becomes outdated, trends change, and that hip fullscreen slider has become a distraction that needs to go. Like the grass in my yard that was no longer wanted, some web weeds are caused by changing needs and goals for the website. Sometimes weeds crop up as you don’t have time to keep the site up to date, and occasionally they start to appear because the internet has changed its mind about what’s considered “good practice.”
There’s no shame in taking the time to pull weeds. As much as I would have liked to ignore the problem, my flower bed wasn’t doing what I wanted it to. If your website is sluggish, outdated, clunky, or plain broken, then it’s probably time to get rid of the weeds and let the flowers shine through. Removing the clutter and cruft will make the remaining content shine through, providing your users with a better experience. The fewer weeds you have, the more our visitors will want to stop and smell the roses. Making sure that your site is weed-free will increase engagement, conversions, and help your visitors gather the information they’re looking for.
Finding Your Weeds
Weeds in the garden and weeds in the web can both be identified by looking for things that you don’t like. Similar to my love of milkweed, don’t feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. If large hero images and three columned calls to actions don’t work for you, then rip those weeds out. Find your vision for your website and make sure we pull out the weeds that get in the way of that vision.
Weeds will likely try to poke their heads up throughout the entire development phase of your site and beyond. While you’ll probably never be completely free from the chore of weeding, there are steps you can take to make sure that they don’t show up as much in the future. Part of that is bringing in outside help.
Let the Professionals in
I work on my flower beds purely as a hobby, so I like to make mistakes and learn from them as I go. For a lot of businesses, that’s not an option because mistakes have a real cost associated with them. When working flower beds for companies, it’s best to bring in professional landscapers. They’ll have experience avoiding mistakes, and you’ll almost always end up with a better final product than if you had solely relied on yourself. You can decide what you think is a weed, but sometimes it’s necessary to compromise for the sake of future maintenance.
The same is true for your website. We’ve been around for a while. We know what incurs maintenance costs and what is “future proof.” Tell us what flowers you want to grow with your website, and we’ll come up with the best tools and methods for it. That’s what we’re here for.