A well-made website is a hugely important part of operating a successful business today. So important in fact that many believe a good website is essential for small businesses in 2020.
But simply building a great website is easier said than done. Where do you look to for good website designs, and how do you even start when it comes to website creation!?
There are so many questions, but don’t panic. Here at EB Pearls, we’ve written this guide to help you.
We’re going to go through a step-by-step process on how to build your own website. Not only that, but we’ll share some tips on website design to ensure your website is as optimised as possible.
We’ve written this out in eight easy to follow steps that encompass all aspects of web design. This includes aesthetics, content, layout, SEO focuses and so much more.
Simply follow this guide and you’ll be ready to start building your company website in no time at all!
Step 1: All Great Website Designs Begin With Goal Identification
Think about it like this; would you build a house before you knew what rooms you wanted? What about a swimming pool, would you build it before you knew how many people would be using it?
A website is exactly the same, in that you first need to identify your goals with building your website.
This is much simpler than it sounds. There are several important questions you should ask yourself when designing your website. Think about the following:
- Your customers: who are you building the website for exactly? What will they be looking for when they find your website? This is particularly important when thinking about how your web design will impact your SEO ranking.
- What is your website doing exactly? Will you sell products directly (probably), if so what information does it need to show.
- What is your competition doing? How are you planning on doing things similar or different?
- What kind of brand are you broadcasting with your website? Is it part of a wider branding strategy, if so how does it fit into that?
Answering these questions is essential, as it will allow you to properly plan your website design before you even start. If you don’t have a plan, there’s no way your website will be the best it can be.
Step 2: Plan Out The Timeline
Once you know what you plan on doing, you need to set realistic goals on designing it. Web design, though quicker than ever today, is still a step-by-step process.
When it comes to designing a website there are often aspects you think about as you’re designing. For example, a chatbot or push notifications. You might have just built your landing page and realised that it’d be a great idea to include them.
Or, you might want to create a specific 404 page to improve user experience. But these things take time and attention to properly implement. Where possible, you should timeline everything you intend to add to your website design.
This way, you can keep on track and see a gradual progression in building your perfect company website.
Step 3: Create a Sitemap and Sketches
As well as a timeline, you should consider creating a sitemap at this stage.
This is essentially a flowchart which shows you how all of your webpages connect. It’s the perfect way to visualise links between your website and can help in the future when it comes to optimizing your UX (user experience) design.
To help at this stage it might be worth sketching out what you want each of your webpages to look like.
This can help you think of things you want to add before you begin the full design process and can make timeline planning much more realistic.
Not only that but having a detailed sketch can make the design process much easier. Everyone knows how important sketches are to an artist, but they’re vital when it comes to any kind of design process. They are the perfect way to visualise your idea before you commit to designing it in full.
Sketches can also help you to optimize your design for various platforms, such as tablets and phones as well as desktops.
Step 4: Make a Design Guide and Visual Elements
We know, it’s step four and you still haven’t started designing the website directly yet. But like we said earlier website design is a step by step process. You have to prepare yourself fully first, before any coding or programming even takes place, to prevent errors and allow for the best result.
The design guide is the best way to ensure your website fits with your branding. It typically includes things such as a colour scheme, the chosen designs for menu pages and the typography, or font, that you’re going with.
These design choices are essential to building an appropriate website. They will command the entire aesthetic process.
Choosing the right font for your website, in particular, is something a lot of business owners forget to consider. But typography is hugely important to how your website is received by your customers.
Choosing the right font will help transmit your brand identity to customers, as well as ensure that your content is readable. You also need to consider creating visual elements at this stage.
There are various websites, such as Unsplash, which have freely accessible photographs you can use if you don’t have your own. You should select a few photographs ready to integrate into your web design. These should link to the brand you are trying to portray.
You’ll also need a logo for your business if you don’t have one already, which is essential to good website design. A logo is the best way for a customer to identify with your brand.
Step 5: Prepare Web Copy and Content, with SEO in Mind
Your design guide will go hand in hand with the actual web copy and content of your website.
You should write or commission the website copy at this stage, ideally before or during the initial stages of building your website.
This will help you have direction in your design, and also makes the insertion of copy easier as you can do it as you build. Web copy itself is also of paramount importance to good website design.
With so many words on the internet today, you need to make sure yours stand out. Good web copy is simple, efficient and easy to understand, whilst also a big part of conveying your brand identity. The actual web copy and content of your website is like the flesh to the bones of a skeleton.
Your customers won’t so much care about how your website functions; with a good website, the framework and links aren’t noticeable, they are seamless. But they will notice when it comes to the written copy and content on your website. When it comes to web copy, you should focus on quality over quantity.
If you’re planning on writing your web copy or content yourself, this is an area where you must think about your SEO ranking. Refer back to your sitemap and think about how you can create internal links between your different webpages.
You should also consider thinking of keywords that your website will focus on. These are essential for searches, as you want your website to rank highly for certain keywords specific to your business.
For example, if you run a lawnmower business and rank number 3 on Google for the phrase “lawnmower for sale” you’re bound to attract a lot of customers.
Step 6: Bring It All Together in a Prototype
At this stage you should have all of the following:
- A list of the goals you want to achieve with your website.
- A timeline of what needs to be completed for your website and when.
- A sitemap that details where each of your webpages fit and how they link together on your website overall.
- Sketches of webpages which show the layout and the content required.
- A style guide and visual elements to be included.
- Completed written content and copy to be inserted into your website.
Once you’ve collated all of these elements, it’s finally time to start designing your website properly. However, you shouldn’t be designing your website to instantly go live and be shared online. Instead, you need to build a prototype.
Either way, you must ensure the website is first prototyped. Look for any broken links, grammatical errors in copy, images that don’t fit or anything else that seems off.
Step 7: Development and Testing
After building a prototype, you need to develop and test your website thoroughly to make sure everything works as it should.
The best way to develop your website comes in the form of a CMS, or a content management system. Some of the more popular examples of CMS software include WordPress and Drupal.
They are efficient ways of managing all the content on a website. They’ll allow you to quickly add new pages to your website, and will also include statistics such as how many views a page has received. This is important when it comes to testing what works and what doesn’t, and for improving your website (more on that in the final step).
When you test, you must make sure to do so on different devices and using different browsers.
Your website will look different on a phone compared to a desktop and needs to be optimized for mobile users. Similarly, it may run differently on a browser like Chrome compared with Edge or Firefox.
The last thing you want to do is put all the hard work into web design to find out that it doesn’t work on most people’s browsers, or looks terrible for people on tablets.
Once you’ve fully tested and optimized your website for different platforms, you’re ready to move on to the final stage in the process with an official launch.
Step 8: Launch and Improve (It Isn’t Over)
The eighth and final stage is to launch your website and then update it regularly. When launching, you should consider how to market your new website. Some popular methods today include linking it to social media profiles or sending it out to subscribers via email.
But just because your website has been launched doesn’t mean that your web design days are over. In fact, some of the toughest work happens now.
You should monitor your website regularly to see how it performs. Use suitable software like Ahrefs to check how many visits certain pages are getting, or how often your website is found through certain pages.
By doing this, you can focus on the areas where your website design can be improved for the future. Maybe you can split your services page up into separate pages, or rework your contact page to include team members.
Web design is a job that never truly ends. You must keep updating your website to improve your SEO ranking; a good way of doing this is to have a section of the website that is made for holding regular updates.
This could be a news page for regular news articles. Or, a blog page for your company to share topics related to your business.
Customers will likely tire of your web design after a few years of the same thing. Think about ways of freshening up your aesthetic, or improving on your branding with new web design initiatives.
If you’re not focusing on updating your website design regularly, your website isn’t performing as well as it can.
What If I Need More Help With My Website Design
So, there you have it! The seven major steps you must follow when it comes to great website designs.
But we know that not all business owners are interested in designing their company website themselves. That’s understandable; you need to focus on improving your business, which is a mammoth job in itself!
That’s where we come in. Here at EB Pearls, we’re an award-winning digital agency with specialist experience in results-driven website design.
We’re a full-service web design and development agency and we’ve worked with some major clients on their websites including the World Wildlife Fund and The University of Sydney.
Not only will we help you out with all the above, from strategy and branding to full website development, but we’ll also work to optimize your website regularly after launch.
To find out more about how EB Pearls can transform your website design, please contact us through our online form today. We offer a free consultation service for all businesses enquiring about our website design services and are committed to ensuring your website is getting the results that your business needs.