How to Design a Website
Nowadays, you do not need to spend a fortune on a website design and development team in order to create a sleek, stylish, and engaging site. While it may seem daunting to build your own website, anyone can do it… I promise!
Below, I will take you through the different steps to follow on how to design a website that impresses viewers and helps you achieve your goals!
- Define the purpose of your website and start strategizing
There is only one place to begin with this guide on how to design a website, and this is by putting pen to paper and doing some planning! You would be surprised by how many people simply dive right in and start creating a website with little thought on why they are creating the site and what they are hoping to achieve.
What is your unique selling point?
How do you want to come across to others?
What are you hoping to achieve from your website?
What sort of people are you going to be targeting?
These are just some of the questions you need to be asking yourself when determining what sort of website you are going to create.
The aim is to come across as authentic and to engage with your viewers. Your website will play a massive role in this, as it is a direct reflection of your brand.
Outline your objectives
Once you have established why you are creating a website, you then need to start thinking about your specific goals. What sort of action do you want viewers to take when they land on your website?
Some examples include the following:
- To get them to sign-up to your membership system
- To sell products and increase your profits
- To display information so viewers can understand your business better
When developing your landing page, there should be one focus and a clear call to action to go with it. This is why it is critical to think about your objectives from the off.
- Do some research into the current web design market to understand well-performing trends
Before you start the building process, educating yourself on what works and what doesn’t makes a lot of sense.
Trends come and go in all industries, so you need to think about what has staying power.
For example, one trend that definitely is not going anywhere is the popularity of mobile Internet use, and so this is something you will need to consider when designing your website.
You must make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. It needs to look great on a smaller screen and be quick and easy to use. This may mean tweaking the design and getting rid of some of the PC elements.
At the moment, there is also a clear trend for minimalistic designs, and storytelling is also highly popular. Of course, there’s no telling what will be popular in a few years from now, so this is something you will need to continually monitor and adapt to accordingly.
- Pick a domain name
One thing you have probably gathered from this guide on how to design a website is that you need to put in a little bit of groundwork before you get started on the design part.
Another element that you need to consider is what domain name you are going to choose.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is essentially the website address that people type in the URL in order to visit your site. For example, “www.google.com” is Google’s domain name.
Choosing a domain name is not easy, and this is going to be stuck with you for life (unless you undergo a complete rebrand), so it is critical to choose with care.
At present, there are over 350 million domain names that have been registered, with thousands of new ones being added per day.
What this is means is that there is a high chance someone else will already have your first choice of domain name.
Selecting a worthy domain name
So, how do you choose a domain name that makes sense for you? Well, I have put together a few tips to give you a helping hand:
- Do not use hyphens or numbers
- Make the domain name easy to spell and pronounce
- Do not go for anything too long; it needs to be easy to remember
- Choose a .com domain name if possible, as they are easier to promote
If you are struggling to choose a domain name, WP has a free AI-powered business name generator tool that can help you to come up with a good company name. You can easily check if the domain name is available when considering different business names using this tool.
- Decide on the right website building platform
Now, it is time to start thinking about the build process. A lot of people assume that they are going to need to enlist the help of an expensive web designer and developer. But this could not be further from the truth.
There are a lot of great website-building platforms that make it easy for even beginners to create their own website.
With these solutions, you can have the basis of a great website ready within just one day. A lot of these tools work via a drag and drop builder, making them very easy and enjoyable to use.
But with so many different website building platforms to select from, you may be feeling at a little bit of a loss when it comes to deciding on the right one for you.
I’ll talk you through some of my favorite options out there to give you a helping hand:
There really is only one place to begin when it comes to the world of website building, and that is with Wix.
Wix boasts an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and it is extremely flexible. You can create a website from scratch, using one of the templates, or you can get the Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) feature to create a website for you.
One of the best things about Wix is the sheer number of different features that are available. There are hundreds of website apps for you to make the most of, as well as plenty of different templates and site add-ons. The customization options are off the chart!
You can scale your website with ease too, and Wix genuinely does cater to users of all skill levels, which is why so many people decide to go down this route when creating their own website.
If Wix is not the website builder for you, perhaps Squarespace will be! Squarespace has a great reputation in the industry, with almost 2 million websites using this platform. That is rather impressive when you consider that there is no free plan available.
You may assume that a lack of a free plan is a bummer, but I would never recommend using a free plan unless the site you are creating is purely for your own consumption. Free plans are incredibly limited and tend to be plastered with the site builder’s branding, rather than your own.
Squarespace is an excellent option for those looking to sell products online. There are two eCommerce plans available – eCommerce Basic and eCommerce Advanced. You can expect deep selling capabilities with these options. Plus, you do not need to pay the three percent transaction fee if you go for one of the selling plans.
Another website builder with an excellent reputation is Weebly. Personally, I would not recommend Weebly for international websites. You would be better off going for one of the former two options. However, there are a lot of benefits when creating a website for a domestic audience.
All of the themes available on Weebly are responsive, so you can be sure that you will create that all-important mobile optimization box that I mentioned earlier.
What I like about Weebly personally is that I feel there is a great selection of tools available. You can make the most of a whole host of SEO tools, and creating a membership website is a breeze. For small businesses especially, the site builder is easy to use and there is everything you need to build an impactful online presence.
The final website builder that I would consider is Site123. I would say that Site123 is better suited to beginners who don’t require a lot of creative freedom or flexibility. There are a few limitations in terms of design that may be a bit frustrating for those looking for something unique and visually impressive.
There are a lot of great things about Site123, though – which is why I recommend it! All of the templates are mobile responsive and you can display your website in a number of different languages with ease.
Other benefits include the fact that you can have multiple websites under one account, no sales commission is taken if you run an online store, and the support is great too. Plus, the app market is easy to use and there are a lot of plug-ins, which can be integrated with ease.
- Select a suitable web hosting provider
For your website to work, you will need a web host. A lot of website builders will provide free website hosting as part of their service. However, do be cautious, as they can sometimes be free for the first year only.
Also, even if the service is free, you may want to consider opting for a different site host so that you can benefit from a better service.
This is because your web host will impact the quality of your website, including how quickly it loads and how secure it is.
I have spent the past 7+ years researching the best web hosts out there, so you can be sure you will b able to find the best host for you via my website.
You can explore the extensive reviews I have created on my website if you would like to discover more, but I will give you a brief overview here of my top choices to give you a helping hand right now:
- SiteGround – The levels of performance at SiteGround are very impressive. You can expect 100 percent uptime, and the host has developed its own in-house software, which makes it highly competitive. They have servers in Europe, Asia, the USA, and the UK too.
- Hostinger – If you are looking for value for money, you are going to struggle to find better than Hostinger, as this is one of the cheapest web hosts available. Although the cost is low, the quality certainly is not. You can expect quick server response times, and the hPanel is great for beginners; a lot easier to use than cPanel in my opinion.
- BlueHost – A third option that I would recommend is BlueHost. BlueHost powers over two million websites, so you know that they have a good reputation in the industry. They provide hosting packages that come with many exciting features, and their support is quick and efficient too.
- Choose a template and start editing it to suit your needs
Next, you need to select a template for your website. The majority of the top website builders have a whole host of templates for you to choose from, and they are categorized based on business type, making it easy to find an appropriate one for you.
You can then easily edit the template to suit your needs. The likes of Wix offer a drag and drop editor, which is incredibly straightforward and fun to use.
But what should you consider when choosing a template?
Consider the type of website you are building
There is only one place to begin, and this is by understanding the sort of website you want to build. After all, a website for a local cake shop is going to be very different from a site for booking conference venues.
Of course, no one is going to build a website without knowing what they want, and what their customers want. However, outlining this from the beginning is critical, as it will direct all of the decisions you make.
You cannot construct a personal blog in the same way that you would construct an e-commerce website. Your ultimate goals and your industry of choice will play a big role in the sort of template you choose.
Choose an SEO friendly template
You want to make sure that your site reaches as many people as possible, and you won’t be able to do this without effective search engine optimization (SEO).
Although you may be able to create a website that looks incredible and has exciting content, you need to implement SEO techniques to get your page ranked as high as possible on the likes of Google.
This is why you need to look for designs that look great and also offer easy navigation and a solid hierarchy.
One tip that I also have for you is to make sure you do not change your template in each category. The more templates you utilize in your website, the more challenging it is going to be for users to navigate your website.
Some templates that look incredible can still be poorly written from an SEO perspective. A template that has clumsy code can take longer to load, and this can impact your ranking. Google has stated on numerous occasions that load times contribute to rankings, and so efficiently written code is a must.
Know your template provider
It is also important to know your template provider. In a lot of cases, this will be the website builder. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, an outside provider will build a template specifically for that platform.
Not every template performs robustly or is wonderfully written. A template that is poorly written is only going to create more issues down the line. So, whether your template is free or you pay for it, you need to make sure it comes from a trustworthy, reputable supplier.
Spend a little bit of time finding out more about the supplier. Read reviews that have been left by previous users so you can be sure that the template provider is reputable. If you ever come across a template flaw or issue, you want to know that the supplier is going to fix it.
Always select a responsive website
This should be a no-brainer! A responsive website is one that will adapt to the size of the screen being used, whether it is a mobile phone or a computer.
If your website is not responsive, it is out of date. After all, mobile devices are most commonly used to access the Internet today. If your website is awkward to use on a mobile device, viewers will simply hit the back button and take their business elsewhere. This is one part of your business whereby you really cannot cut corners!
Look into the customization options
No matter what template you choose, you will need to customize it in some manner so that it has a personalized feel. If you only use the template and you don’t make any changes, it is going to look generic.
This is why it is important to consider the customization options before you choose a template. Some templates will have more customization options than others.
- Think about how you are going to brand your website effectively
As I touched upon in the former section when discussing customizing your template, it is imperative to make sure that your brand your site effectively. Your website needs to be unique to you. It needs to brand your business to full effect. Here are some tips to help you with this:
- Invest in a good logo for your brand – When landing on your website, your logo is going to be one of the first things that people notice. Your logo is a chief part of your brand’s identity. Therefore, this is one of the most important things to get right.
- Pay careful attention to your color selection – Color selection is vital, as colors can elicit behaviors and emotions from the viewers. Think about the values your brand has, as these translate into basic emotions, from optimistic to energetic. Once you have these emotions in mind, you will be able to select colors that transmit your values. This is a subtle yet effective way of bringing readers to the specific mindset you want your site to instill. To help you get a better understanding, let’s take a look at what each color means and the feelings associated with them:
- White – White suggests sterility and cleanliness. It also gives a sense of refinement. White also indicates openness and space, encouraging the clearing of clutter. Some of the other feelings associated with white include freshness, sophistication, simplicity, purity, and clarity.
- Purple – Next, we have purple, which is a color associated with royalty. It is an imaginative, creative, and wise shade. Lavender, in particular, evokes feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality. Purple can be used to calm or soothe, and you will often find it used in anti-aging or beauty products.
- Blue – The color of trust, blue is associated with feelings of security, dependability, and strength. It is popular in the corporate world because of its connections to non-invasiveness and productivity.
- Green – Green is a color that is associated with freshness, growth, health, harmony, and balance. Dark greek is linked with prestige. Green is often used to help initiate feelings of relaxation. It has also long been the symbol of fertility, and it is also associated with wealth.
- Black – Black is a classic, bold, serious, and prestigious color. This powerful shade works well when selling products with a high price tag.
- Yellow – Yellow represents positivity, warmth, clarity, and optimism. Our eyes see yellow first, so use this color wisely.
- Orange – Orange is associated with vitality, fun, confidence, cheerfulness, and friendliness. Lighter shades of orange can appeal to the upscale market. Orange can also be used to drive subscriptions and purchases, and it is a common color in call to action.
- Red – Finally, we have red, which is an energetic, courageous, bold, and visceral shade. It stimulates the pituitary gland and appetite. It also creates a sense of urgency and boosts the heart rate too, which is why it is great for impulse shopping.
- Select the right theme for your website – There are a whole host of different themes to choose from today, and your choice must compliment your website. For example, if you want to create a news website or a blog, it is important to select a theme with a minimalist design that will enhance readability. If you wish to start an e-store, you need a theme that is customizable and fast, as most of your pages are going to contain products.
- Keep it consistent – Consistency is key for all types of branding, not only website branding. When it comes to your website, consistency means having the same tone and voice across all pages. It also means using consistent page templates across your website. If you have more than one site for the same brand, the look and feel across the websites need to be consistent.
- Add content to your website and make sure that it is optimized for SEO
Next, you need to think about the content you add to your website. Your content needs to be clear, concise, and original. It also needs to be optimized for the search engine result pages. Here are some tips to help you with this:
Know your audience
It may sound silly, but so many people start typing up content without thinking about who they are trying to reach.
Before you draft content, you need to ask yourself: who is your primary audience? Do you have a secondary audience who can inform and influence your primary audience? How are these people going to find your website online?
Different audiences enjoy different types of content. They also find content through different paths, from search engines and email sharing to social media sharing and links from other sites. This needs to be considered when planning your website content.
Make text scannable
In addition to knowing your audience, make sure that your text can be skimmed with ease. The majority of web readers will simply scan the page to find certain pieces of information they are searching for. If they do not find it with ease, they will simply move on.
Some of the ways you can make sure your content is constructed with this in mind include the following:
- Divide your content into sections
- Include white space
- Use numerical or bulleted lists to break up text-heavy paragraphs
Consider using the “inverted pyramid” model
Web viewers have short attention spans. They will decide whether or not your website has the information they require in a matter of seconds. This is why I always recommend using the upside-down pyramid structure. This means you put your most important messages at the top of the page and then you work your way down.
Use active voice
Instead of using passive verbs, use active voice, and specify the sentence’s subject. Active voices help to create sentences that are succinct and reader-friendly. It is also more engaging and direct; you are speaking to your audience.
Keep your sentences short and simple
Research shows that today’s readers require sentences containing 35 words or less. You should consider this when crafting content for your website.
I also advise that you keep things simple. Focus on using verbs and nouns. Only use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.
There are some great readability test tools online that can help you if you are not sure how to judge your own writing.
- Publish your website
Now you’re ready to publish your website! Usually, this is pretty easy. Most website builders have a “make your website live” style button. As soon as you press this, people will be able to view your website by typing in your URL.
You will need to make sure you have your own domain name for this. Some website builders give you a domain name for free for the first year. However, make sure that this does not tie you into an expensive contract for the following year. It can often be cheaper to source your domain name elsewhere because the following years are more costly.
This is a tactic a lot of domain providers employ, so do be aware. It may only cost you $1 for the first year, but then the next year it is as much as $20.
Some of the different websites you can use to purchase a domain name include the likes of GoDaddy, 123 Reg, Easyspace and Namecheap.
- Continue to track the performance of your website and make improvements as required
You cannot simply hit the “publish” button and then forget about your website. You need to keep working on it to make sure that it is well-optimized and continues to bring you success.
It is imperative that you monitor your website so you can fix any problems swiftly and make continual improvements. After all, the Internet never remains stagnant, so you cannot afford to sit still.
There are a lot of different tools you can use to track your website and ensure it is performing to an optimal level.
Some of the common metrics that are worth tracking include the following:
This refers to the number of clicks on a certain area of the web page, including text, images, links, and white space, to reveal which spots users are viewing and which areas they ignore.
This is the percentage of visitors that had to your transaction page and complete a purchase, or that complete any sort of desired action, such as subscribing to your newsletter.
Keywords and Phrases
What do people search in order to find your website?
Site Entry Points
How do people get into your website? What pathway do they travel to get to your transaction pages or landing pages?
How long do people remain on a certain page on your website when they arrive? The longer someone stays, the higher your chance of making a sale or brand impression.
How many people come to your website from an external traffic source, such as a banner ad, PPC ad, or organic search, and view only one website page and then leave? This is an indication of a lack of compelling content and poor search optimization.
Which pages result in viewers leaving your website?
Which pages on your website do people view the most?
Finally, how many people visited your website in total over the month? This looks at unique visits, i.e. per person, rather than the total clicks or hits.
Final words on designing a website
So there you have it: the low down on how to design and create a website. I hope that this information has been helpful. I know that building a website can seem very overwhelming, but with the tools that are out there today, anyone can create a site.
FAQ about designing a site
I often get asked a lot of questions about creating a website, so I will answer some of the most frequently asked below.
What can cause a website to crash?
There are a number of different reasons why your website may have crashed. This means that something has gone wrong. There are a few things that could have happened here, including an expired domain, plugin problems, and a code error. It is important to get to the bottom of the issue so you can rectify it as soon as possible.
How long will it take for a website to be designed?
Designing a website can take as long as 14 weeks if you are designing and building it from scratch. However, if you are going to use one of the website building services, you can get a site up and running within just a day. But we certainly do not recommend that you rush into the process, as you want to make sure that your website looks great and functions effectively.
Is it free to design a website?
Designing a website can be free; it all depends on the platform you use. However, it is important to note that there are typically drawbacks associated with opting for a free website. Typically, these sites will be very limited in terms of their features and design options. Moreover, they will typically feature the site builder’s branding and advertising, which can really hold you back when it comes to building a strong brand image.
Is it hard to design a website?
A lot of people worry that creating a website is going to be too difficult, but it is becoming easier all of the time. Of course, you will need some knowledge about SEO and website design. However, the tools that have been developed are designed to make it as easy as possible for you to create a website without any advanced skills.
What is the best tool for designing a website?
There are a lot of great website design tools out there, from Weebly and WordPress to Wix and Adobe Dreamweaver. It really depends on your skillset and the type of website you are looking to create. If you are looking for something with plenty of plug-ins and customization options, WordPress is a wise selection. For something that is beginner-friendly and easy to use but still has plenty of options, you cannot go wrong with Wix.