How to Design a Website
Step 1. Know your audience! This is the first step of any design project and can be one of the most time consuming steps if you are not sure who you want as your target market. You need to do some research on what people look for when they visit an online store or search engine results page, this will help give you insight into how visitors may view your product/service. Once you know your target market it's important that you keep their needs in mind while designing your website. For example: If you have a service business selling landscaping services, then you should try to make your site easy to navigate with simple menus etc.. Your customer base would probably consist of older adults so use colors that appeal more towards these types of customers such as blue, green, orange, yellow and red. Also take note of where you see yourself falling short from competing against other companies in your industry? Do you lack certain features like mobile phone capabilities? Does your company offer free shipping but no guarantees on delivery times? Are there too many pages on your home page that confuse potential customers? Is your "About Us" section lacking information about your employees or does it only contain links back to your homepage instead of giving a brief overview of what you actually provide? These questions and others should all play a part in helping inform your decision making process regarding which direction your site should go. Another thing to consider before moving forward is whether or not you already have a logo designed. Having a consistent color scheme between your logo and background image helps create a clean appearance. It also creates uniformity throughout your entire site. A good idea is to work closely together with your designer during this phase to ensure everything comes out looking cohesive and professional.
Step 2. Get feedback. After determining your target audience we'll now move onto creating a wireframe layout based off our findings from Step 1. Next we will get input from family members, friends, co-workers, associates, clients and anyone else willing to share honest opinions. We ask them to fill out surveys asking things like; What did you find confusing? How could it be easier to understand? Which parts were helpful to you? Don't just let everyone complain. Everyone has different ideas, thoughts and preferences. When working through designs put yourself in someone else's shoes. Ask yourself how long it generally takes me to read something (not including ads) and decide accordingly. The goal here isn't necessarily to change every little detail, rather its to improve upon what was created initially. So don't worry if you end up disagreeing with everyone because sometimes those changes really aren't necessary. Remember, you're the boss and your final say is always going to count. Now after getting all sorts of comments and suggestions we are finally ready to start putting words to paper. Before doing anything drastic please remember that you don't have to stick exactly to the original plan unless you absolutely must. Keep in mind that your main objective is to come up with a functional web presence that provides value to your users. Here are a few tips that might prove useful once you begin writing copy:
Write concisely - Write as much as possible without overloading readers with unnecessary details. Use lists whenever applicable. Try breaking down larger paragraphs by using subheadings. Avoid lengthy sentences, compound modifiers and filler phrases. Most importantly write naturally and comfortably.
Use clear language - Make sure each word makes sense within context and avoid ambiguous phrasing. Be careful not to mix metaphors or misuse grammar. Eliminate jargon and technical terms. Spell check thoroughly.
Be direct - Provide straight to point answers to common inquiries. Leave out fluff. Speak directly to the reader. Maintain consistency across all content.
Avoid clichés - Limit cliches. Clichéd expressions tend to sound unoriginal and boring. Stick to relevant facts and figures.
Keep focus - While you want to include enough info so that it doesn't seem incomplete, you shouldn't ramble on either. Stay focused on key points and benefits.
Speak to the user - Think about what someone would type into Google searching for your product or service. Take notice of keywords used frequently throughout your text. Then incorporate similar wording throughout the content.
Step 3. Create a marketing strategy. Now that you've developed a basic outline of what your site looks like we can talk briefly about marketing strategies. Marketing experts often recommend having multiple streams of income to maximize profits. In order to achieve this we suggest starting with SEO tactics followed by PPC advertising. The reason behind this is because SEO gets cheaper as traffic increases whereas running paid advertisements requires greater upfront costs. However at the same time it allows us to capitalize on even small amounts of traffic since the cost per click tends to decrease overtime. With all of this being said, there are plenty of ways to promote your new site to bring in additional revenue depending on your budget. Some examples include; distributing flyers, sending press releases, participating in local events, networking locally, blogging, social media platforms, article submissions, guest posting, email blasts, trade show participation, radio interviews, television appearances, banner exchanges, cross linking sites, viral campaigns, joint ventures, etc... Just list whatever appeals to you personally. There are countless options available when trying to generate buzz around your brand.
Step 4. Develop style guide. Style guides serve as guidelines for ensuring proper formatting and spelling errors. They are essential tools for maintaining quality control, productivity and consistency among various departments. A great way to maintain a consistent tone throughout your site is outlined below. Please refer to this document constantly until completion to ensure accuracy.
Color Scheme: Determine a general theme for your site and choose colors that reflect this overall aesthetic. Colors convey emotions, therefore pay attention to the mood you wish to portray. Choose appropriate shades of light and dark tones to enhance clarity and contrast. Color theory states that white represents purity and peace, black represents death and evil, and gray represents compromise and neutrality. Each person's eyesight reacts differently to colors so test drive your site with several different browsers to determine optimal viewing conditions.
Fonts: Select fonts carefully to compliment your chosen color schemes. Font size, font face and spacing are also crucial elements to consider. Depending on your intended purpose, the choice of font can affect credibility and trustworthiness. Serif fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, Georgia, Verdana), traditionally convey authority and importance, while sans serif fonts (e.g., Helvetica, Arial, Courier) typically appear friendlier and informal. Sans serif faces are ideal for headings and titles due to their narrow width. Generally speaking, bolded and italicized texts are considered more authoritative than non-italics and non-bolded versions.
Layout and Navigation: Decide on a grid system and decide how large individual sections of your site should be. Typically a grid consists of 12 columns and 8 rows. Always keep left hand navigation accessible from top to bottom. Ensure that menu items flow appropriately and stay above the fold (i.e., visible without scrolling). To accomplish this simply add a line under each link to separate it visually from surrounding text. Menu bars should never exceed 7 lines in length. Finally, make sure your site loads quickly and easily. Highlight critical content by adding visual distinctions.
Images & Videos: Images speak louder than words, especially on websites. Therefore choose images wisely and strategically place them throughout your site according to relevance and prominence. As far as videos goes, you may run into copyright issues so consult your legal advisor beforehand.
Step 5. Test and tweak. Now that your site is complete, it's time to test it. Run it through a variety of tests to learn how well it works. Adjustments can be made immediately to correct problems discovered along the way. Sometimes minor tweaks can result in major improvements so why risk it? By testing your site you will gain valuable insights into how to better implement future updates and modifications.
Step 6. Launch your site. Now that you've completed all of the previous steps you can officially launch your site. But wait! Not quite yet my dear designers. First you must set up accounts with popular hosting providers such as GoDaddy, HostGator and BlueHost. Simply log into your account settings and connect your domain name. Make sure your domain registrar is reputable and reliable. Lastly, register your trademark or copyrights. Although trademarks and copyrights won't cover specific products or services, registering them protects your ownership rights for intellectual property purposes.
Congratulations! You have successfully launched your own personal business website. Now sit back, relax and enjoy watching your business grow exponentially.