How to: Design a website

You don’t have to be a designer to design a website…

Whether you want to make a page for your own business or personal project, or you’re looking to help others with the creation of theirs, designing a website can be a tricky task to master. Especially if you don’t have any previous experience in HTML or CSS coding.

To give you an idea of the routes you could go down and what to consider, here are four things to think about when designing a website:

 

Figure out your purpose

First things first: you need to figure out what to include on your website, and why you’re creating it.

What do you hope to achieve, what content will it include, and most importantly, how will you measure success?

Whether it’s that you’re starting a site to showcase your design skills, an online marketplace that sells products and/or services, or simply a blog about your hobbies, interests, or career – it’s important to outline not just the what, but also the why.

If you’re creating a website for a client, it’s important to communicate with them to understand exactly what they’re looking for.

That way, you’ll have a clear goal to work towards, and you can ensure your website is designed in a way that will fulfil it.

 

Draw up a (rough) layout

Whether you’re building a website from scratch or you’re using a free hosting service, it’s always a good idea to map out your site before you get started.

For example, figuring out core details like how many pages you’d like it to have, what navigation bars you’d include (at the top of the page), and the general layout of the homepage will be particularly helpful when it comes to providing a great user experience.

Other pages/menus to consider include a menu icon (at the top right), a ‘contact us’ page (at the very bottom of each page), a custom 404 page, and a search bar (at the upper-right side of the page).

If you’re struggling to visualise how it’ll look, try drawing rough pictures of each page.

 

Choose the aesthetics

OK, so everything has its place – but what’s its font/colour/size?

If you’re using a free hosting site to create your website, you’ll often be able to pick an ‘all in one’ theme (including colour, layout, and font) that suits your brand or product. If not, you’ll need to put in a little more groundwork.

Not only should you pick colours, fonts, and image themes that complement each other, you should also ensure you use designs that are aesthetically pleasing and simple – avoiding an overload of graphics, imagery, and text.

Too many elements on one page will not only result in a poor user experience, but could also lead to slow loading times; especially for those accessing the site via a mobile device.

Lastly, it’s vital to maintain consistency in your design choices, throughout each aspect of the site – from the homepage to the navigation bar. Leaping from a bright green menu to a pastel coloured ‘about us’ page is never a good look.

 

Decide where to host it

Once you’ve got a good idea of what your website is for and how it’ll look, it’s time to consider the logistics of building it.

Generally speaking, you have two options:

  • Build it from scratch
  • Use a free hosting service

Whilst building a website from scratch provides you with more freedom to turn the site into whatever you want it to be (and there’s no danger of it looking like anyone else’s), it will usually require a detailed understating of HTML and CSS coding.

And if you’re a first-time website designer – this might seem like a daunting prospect. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. With a variety of courses available, you could be able to learn how to code in no time.

But if this option isn’t for you, there are also a number of free hosting services you could use to create a website fast. Some of the most popular website builders include:

  • Squarespace
  • GoDaddy
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • WordPress

In either case, you’ll need to choose and secure a domain name (although most site builders will guide you through this process).

Seven reasons you should learn to code right now

 

Promote it

Aside from bearing SEO in mind when adding content to your site (e.g. using most searched keywords in headers and blog posts), it’s also important to promote it.

If you have a social media page for your brand, this is a great place to showcase your website. Not only can you post links and imagery to draw people in, you could also consider running contests and giveaways to encourage people to register.

Additionally, some social media sites will allow you to promote your posts, showing them to a larger audience for a cost. Search engines such as Google also provide the option to pay for your website to appear at the top of certain search results.

Other ways to promote your site include working with guest bloggers with a high following who may be able to provide content, along with spreading the word on industry-related forums and fan pages.

 

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