Designing your website may seem daunting, but it is probably a little easier than you think. Fortunately, nowadays, we have drag and drop systems that make website building easy and fast. However, suppose your website requires a bit more complex functionality. In that case, you may consider outsourcing the design process. This post covers everything you need to know about designing your website, whether doing it yourself or outsourcing it.
In this series’ last post, we discussed the importance of planning your website. That plan should become extremely useful when designing, and always be sure to link your goals with the design of your website. So let’s jump into the first step.
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
The first step in designing your website is to choose your platform. Are you trying to build out a blog? Maybe WordPress is the right option for you. Do you plan on building an eCommerce store? Then Weebly or Shopify might be the right platform. Are you a creative photographer looking to showcase your portfolio? Then Squarespace is a solid platform. When choosing a platform, look at your goals and purpose in the plan you created in our previous post. (If you don’t know what we are talking about, you can read the post here).
Suppose your website requires extra coding to get complex functionality. In that case, you may want to look at Shopify if you have coding experience or look at outsourcing your website to a web developer. They will be able to create what you are looking for.
Before jumping into the next step, let’s go over the pros and cons of each platform:
• Open source
|• Lacks updates|
• Lacks customization
|Wix||• Easy to use templates|
• Lots of help/support
|• Wix Branding on free plans|
• Website isn’t transferable
|Weebly||• Simple and easy to use editor|
• Solid website speed
|• Freeloaders are stuck on the Weebly domain|
• Limited blogging tools
|Shopify||• Great for ecommerce|
• Shopify app store
|• Payment processing fees|
• Limited design options
|SquareSpace||• G Suite integration|
• Aesthetically pleasing templates
|• No free plans|
• Limited SEO customizations
|Website Designer/Developer||• Flexible/Fully customizable|
• SEO optimized
• Long wait time
Step 2: Choose Your Web Hosting Provider
Choosing a web hosting provider is an essential step in designing your website because you want a host that can be reliable and offer exactly what you need. Larger websites with lots of traffic will not be able to survive on a shared hosting plan. In some cases, larger enterprises may want to look into getting their own server. On top of that, you also have other things to consider, such as security and backups to ensure you don’t lose any data.
Some things to keep in mind when choosing a web hosting provider are:
- Customer Support – Ensure the web hosting provider has an excellent support team that can help you with an issue 24/7
- Peering at Your Specs – Ensure the web hosting provider can also support your website with their computing resources
- Reputation – Ensure your web hosting provider has a good reputation. The best way to know is by looking at Google reviews and testimonials
If you want an in-depth look at how to choose a web hosting provider, click here.
Step 3: Choose Your Theme
This next step only applies to those who choose to go with a website builder. You will have to select your starting theme. These themes can be changed, but it lays the groundwork for your website’s appearance. Specific themes will showcase a more elegant look, while others offer practically from a user experience standpoint. However, underneath the design, a website theme is actually significant. Some themes load faster than others, while some have compatibility issues with specific plugins. Obviously, you want to choose a theme appealing to the eyes, but you also want to select a secure theme. Because a theme is not updated regularly, and outdated theme can be an easy attack for cyber criminals to steal information.
A website’s theme also has an impact on your speed. For example, if a website has loads of files and is too large to load, you will notice that it impacts the speed of your website too. This is because some themes have large amounts of coding for unnecessary features. Because Google uses website speed as an important factor for determining rankings, you do not want a website with a theme that slows it down.
Often times you can find free website templates; one of the best places to find them is via Reddit and theme libraries such as WordPress.
Step 4: Decide on Your Branding
Branding is made up of a bunch of different elements. Some design elements of branding include:
- Colour palette
Perform some research to find what branding will work for your business to make it unique and identifiable at the same time. Specific colours portray different emotions and feelings. For example, green often represents wealth, health and nature. On the other hand, yellow represents youthfulness and optimism, while red showcases energy and urgency.
Other things to pay attention is to imagery, font and spacing. All these design elements combined will help bring your branding elements together. The font style should complement the colour you choose and match the imagery.
Step 5: Create Content
The next step in designing your website is creating content. We will go more in depth in our next post, but for now we’ll provide a brief overview. You will need to have content for each page. While having lots of content can be beneficial, quality should always trump quantity. High-quality content will make users stay on your website longer and thus improve the chances of users converting into customers. For starters, brainstorm what pages you have and what kind of content will be needed for those pages. Refer back to your goals and objectives to help you build your content. For example, are you trying to sell to your customers? Then the content on your website should point a user downwards towards the sales funnel. If you plan to set up a blog website, then you should also post a few live blog posts.
Here are some of the different pages and the kind of content to add:
About Us Page
Here, you want to share your story, methods, and other things that define your brand. You want to use the first person and ensure that your website visitors have a photo to refer to. Not only does it make it more personable, but it also gives visitors a better idea of your brand.
This is where you want to ensure you list all the details a potential customer would like to know about your products. Customers will be hesitant to buy your products if they miss critical information. Some ways to improve your conversions are providing high-quality photos, terms and services and sizing charts if needed.
A contact page is essential because new leads have a lot of potentials. Be sure to have a form so people can input their information with a message. Perhaps you can also look at putting a live chat box that can also help visitors find what they need.
Step 6: Optimize Your Website
Now that you have content on your website, you are almost ready to launch. But before you do, make sure that the website is optimized. This means ensuring your website is fast, mobile friendly and crawlable for Google to rank.
Here are some to things to keep in mind when optimizing your website:
To check if your website is fast, you will need to run a test on your website. There are many tools you can use for checking, but one of the most popular is PageSpeed by Google. If your speed is too low, then here are some things you can do to speed up your website.
- Compress Images – Your image files may be too big, slowing down your speed
- Website theme – Your website theme could be too large with lots of plugins slowing down your loading speed
- Reduce Bulky Code – Your website may have too much code that takes a while to process and display
- Enable Browser Caching – Ensure that your website is being cached so when users visit again, the website loads faster due to the browser remembering it
To check if your website is mobile-friendly, you will need to run another test. For example, you can try Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Moreover, here are some ways to make your website mobile-friendly:
- Make your website responsive – A responsive website responds to the size of the screen. Your website should be fluid as it adapts to desktops, laptops, phones and tablet screen sizes. A lot of drag-and-drop website builders offer responsive design when creating your website.
- Disable text blocking ads – Ads are annoying and even more so when they are pop-up ads. Running ads on your website for mobile users can really hinder to their experience.
- Website Speed – A faster website is also great for mobile. Users are not waiting for your website to load, especially on mobile, where the purpose is supposed to be quick and fast.
- Use Large Font Size – Mobile devices have smaller screens, and because of this, you want to make sure your font is big enough to read. As a general rule of thumb, 14px is a good size. Moreover, also use standard fonts because fonts also need to load.
To rank your website on Google, you want to make your website SEO friendly. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It ensures that your website is easily accessible through search engines. To ensure your SEO is good, there are 4 aspects to focus on:
- Technical SEO – Ensures your website is crawlable, mobile-friendly, and indexed on Google’s search engine
- Content SEO – Ensures that your page’s content is viable and serves the purpose your visitor was looking for
- On-site SEO – Possesses some technical SEO elements but also considers the user. For example, keywords, content optimization and meta descriptions fall into this category
- Off-Site SEO – The idea of building authority. Backlinks are the best way to build authority, as Google will determine your website as important.
Step 7: Publish Your Website
When all is complete, your website is ready to be published. The next step includes driving traffic to your website and analyzing the traffic that comes on to it. By analyzing the website, you can find areas to improve on. One way to look at your metrics is through your CMS or Google Analytics. Both will provide you insights into how users are using your website. It will be worthwhile to experiment with different images, CTAs and text to see which one performs better. Doing this will show how certain aspects improve your website traffic and performance.
And finally, you should have a website that is up and ready. In the next post of this series, we will talk about creating valuable content that keeps people coming back to your website.
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