A little while ago my son asked me what the Lego site was that I was on when he noticed my Lego theme. It got me thinking about the reason that I like this particular theme for my site.
Building a good website is a lot like building with Legos.
You need a rough idea in mind of what you want to build. It shouldn’t be too firmly established. You need flexibility to work with the pieces that you have. Your perfect idea might be available in some ASP code snippets, but if your site only supports PHP then you need to find something close enough that still gets the basic end result that you want.
Be ready to work with preassembled sections of the site. There is no sense in building everything from scratch when there is a multitude of open source templates and code available on the web.
Good sites are cohesive. When you’re building a house out of Legos, you could make all of the walls by randomly stacking the bricks around the perimeter. However, it will be much stronger if they are overlapped as you build. Its the same with a website. Each section/component/page needs to have a strong connection to other parts of the site.
Color palettes are important. The Lego analogy for this one kind of makes me chuckle. As kids, we could never afford to custom order hundreds of grey bricks for our castles so our castles looked like rainbow colored clown houses. Granted the soldiers lining the walls did help to make them a little more menacing but… The colors you select for your website are equally important. They reflect on the level of professionalism in the site and its overall appeal. They will also vary widely based on the audience that you are trying to attract and the feelings that you want to convey to the viewer.
Always build from the ground up. This is a necessity with Legos and it is important for a good site. Start with the basics and build on it. Sometimes you may find yourself going in a different direction than you would have originally planned. If you start by making some high level aspects of the design, you may find yourself with no place to put them when you are done.
The last comparison that I will make is that your creations are useless if you don’t invite people to see them. What’s the point of spending countless hours building the perfect Lego creation and then setting it up on a shelf somewhere to collect dust. You take pictures of it to send to the Lego Club magazine and invite all of your friends over to see it. Do the same thing with your site. Submit it to all of the search engines and spread the word about it in traditional media. Link to it everywhere that you can.
So that’s why my site has a Lego theme. The simplest of building toys reflects for me all of the aspects of good design.
(Have any more Lego analogies or funny Lego stories from when you where a kid? Post them in the comments)