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Tiny Website Nation
By: AARON SCHAUT
Digital
Jan 5, 2016

Tiny Website Nation

I have become addicted to the show Tiny House Nation on the FYI Network. Although I can't imagine living in a tiny house, the idea of making a 600-square foot space livable is intriguing. The show’s contractor, Zack Giffin, has a keen ability to make compact spaces both livable and beautiful. He takes his cues from the show's John Weisbarth, who aligns construction with the desires of the homeowners. Deadlines are tight and so is space. 

While watching a recent episode, it occurred to me that modern website builds could follow the show's tiny-house model. Imagine the homeowner is the client; the project manager Weisbarth; and I am Griffin, along with our design team. Together we find the coolest, most efficient ways possible to represent our clients' needs based on the limitations of the square footage.

Traditional Home

Traditional website builds could be likened to a typical 2-story, 3-bedroom, 2-bath, full-basement home. They usually have an About page (the upstairs), a Contact page (the kitchen, because that’s where we kept the phone in my house), a Blog (the bathroom, where we read the news), and of course, the Home page (the living room), along with a myriad of other pages that make up the rest of the house.

Over time, we all accumulate “stuff" that ultimately ends up in storage. The same goes for traditional websites. If you're rocking a CMS, you will find a place to put new stuff, while holding onto old stuff (lengthy, inefficient blocks of copy). If a guest were visiting your home, they might identify you as "cluttered.” While there's nothing wrong with this living style, if you want a tiny home or a tiny website, some things will have to change.

The Tiny Build: It’s not how much space you have; it’s how you use it.

So, you’ve decided you want a tiny website. Now, by tiny we don’t mean a smaller, less robust site; what we do mean is a well-planned, efficient site that has a strategized, well-defined purpose for each room, er... page.

Planning: The blueprint

Our job at TIS is to pare down your traditional, 2-story colonial website to a 600-sq. ft. power site. To do this efficiently, we need to cut it down to what is most important so the user will do what you want them to do. This is the most crucial part of the strategy. Planning is key to a successful site.

Organization: The build

Let’s say we determined that we want to build our tiny website to focus on expanding your social media presence. We still need a concise Home page that succinctly conveys who you are and provides easy access to the rest of the house with obvious options and call to action. 

We need to pare down the interior of your tiny site to the necessities. You will need:

  • A dynamic blog with all the social bells and whistles, of course.
  • An About page to answer questions customers may have, and to increase your search presence.
  • A Contact page so folks can easily reach you.

That’s about all you need to achieve your purpose of social media engagement.

Content: The Tools

Now that we have our basic blueprint for our site, and we know what we need to build for our new homeowners to enjoy this tiny home, we need to collect and create content. You've cut down on all the items you had on your old website to the necessities that will help the user interact with you socially. The house will accommodate basic living with modern appliances, beds, sofas, tables, efficient fixtures, etc. that will make this small space very cozy with only the amenities you need.

Now for the social media push. In a recent episode, one homeowner had a bit of a shoe fetish. Zack was able to accommodate some of her shoes by creating dynamic storage spaces in very convenient places throughout the home. This would be our social media push: It’s always there, convenient, and blends in seamlessly on each page with the rest of the living space/site. 

Design: The colors and finishes

The biggest appeal to tiny homes, minus the mobility and tight quarters, would be the custom design. Because the site will be super efficient, it needs to have a lot of appeal with custom structure and design created specifically for your identity. On the show, many new tiny homeowners follow a trend that incorporates old, distressed barn wood with modern fixtures. Zack always finds clever and creative ways to mix modern functionality with interesting tastes. We would approach a tiny site with the same creative juice, incorporating your brand with modern design and functionality for a sleek, interesting, cool website.

SEO: The kitchen sink

Zack often tends to custom design functional kitchen sinks on the show. Homeowners usually want a full-size sink in their tiny house, which makes creative functionality crucial. Your SEO is your kitchen sink. Your site is custom, but because it's tiny, we will need to hone in on the ability of SEO to do a full-size job. We can pay special attention to how the site is tracked by search engines and emphasize specifically what’s important. 

Mobility: A must-have

Another common feature of Tiny Houses is mobility. They often can hitch up to a pickup truck and be relocated to just about anywhere the homeowner wants to live. Tiny websites should also be mobile. Their focus must be on mobile usability, especially when it comes to your main call to action. Recall your primary push was your social/blog presence. These items should be easily accessible and simple to share on any device. 

End Result: A tiny, yet powerful new website

So what do you end up with when we build a tiny website? A modern, sexy website with all the amenities, ingenuity, and top-notch design of any traditional, 2-story, new home but with more efficiency. The focus is on what the user wants and what you want the user to do, all while driving traffic to your website with all the latest, greatest bells and whistles required to fit your needs. Boom.

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