Your guide to website design
Before you start
So you’ve decided to enter the world of websites. Trust us when we tell you – it’s a large one. And it’s a great world to enter.
It’s pretty common knowledge that the internet has become the primary platform for most advertising, selling, and communication. Companies advertise their work online, businesses sell their products online, and we all use some form of social media – online.
These days it’s not only an edge to have an online presence. It’s a total necessity.
You’re about to enter a very wide world
But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s simple, where every website coexists in perfect harmony. They’re actually each handcrafted, and specifically targeted at getting a message out to the world.
Before we delve into the finer details of how to make a website, you’ve got to start your planning by thinking big.
This means discovering your website’s purpose; where you want to go, and why you want to get there.
Think about it this way: you’ve literally got the world at your fingertips – it’s just the digital one. You’re creating a new place for people to visit, so you’ve got to make sure it has a home in the right neighborhood.
This means discovering the type of website you’re going to create.
Different websites result in different outcomes.
And not all websites have the same functions. You’re looking at planting a website in a space where your neighbours have the same purpose as you – meaning you’re keeping up with the standards, and using a design that serves your business goals.
A website’s format, layout, and navigation options are crucial for achieving your overall purpose.
Remember how we told you it’s important to keep those goals in mind to pave the way of building your own website? Well, this is the first step in your process, and absolutely requires their input.
Knowing what your website needs to do should lead you down as easy path into finding the perfect ‘type’ for you or your business.
Whether you’re looking at how to design a website from scratch, or you’re revamping an old one, working out what your website builder options are from the start is essential.
It’s the first step in your practical planning process.
You’ve probably already got an idea of how you want your website to look, and although it’s a lot of fun toying with the details of your ideal website design – it’s something you should be doing well after you’ve got a plan in progress.
This means appointing your website builders, and finding your place in the design process.
What we’re saying, is you need to know exactly who is responsible for what parts of your website design.
Whether you choose to build your own website entirely by yourself, or pass it over to a professional, sorting out who’s doing what will mean you can really start moving.
When it comes to picking your website builder, the purpose and goals of your business will largely help you make some decisions. Remember, they pave the way for your entire website design!
Once you have a clear vision of what the website needs to achieve, you can start mapping out your requirements and which website design methods will best fulfil them.
This will help you decide who you’re going to enlist in the help of, or what you’ll need to learn to do the work yourself.
DIY vs hiring an expert: what to consider
Knowing the features you need in your business’ website will greatly influence the expertise required. We’ll quickly go over where you might need help:
- If your website is advertising: you can create a simple website design displaying who you are, where you are, and your products or services. This straightforward layout would be easy to set-up if you do it yourself or use a template, and cheaper than more complex sites if you choose to hire an expert.
- If your website is selling: using your online platform might require some more complex functions integrated into your website design. E-commerce capability, customer tracking tools, heightened security – you’re going to need a lot more time and energy to learn about these features, if you opt to do it yourself, or more money to hire an expert.
- If your website is educating or collecting information: you might require integration with social media, MailChimp, and other tools – this will need a more hands-on approach from either yourself or your web developer.
To help you learn a little bit more about what these website builder options entail, we’ll run you through: DIY vs hiring a professional and what to do during the building process.
Nowadays, your website is essentially your shop front. And how does one lay out a shop front? Clean, tidy and aesthetically pleasing – correct?
It’s the same for your website. The quality of your web design should – in essence – reflect the quality of the product or service you’re selling.
Which is why, when it comes to web design – though picking the cheapest option may seem like a given – you’ve really got to do your research.
Because, as it always goes, you get what you pay for right?
There is no one budget. Generally websites can cost between $1,000NZD-$10,000NZD+. While DIY templates are the cheapest option, hiring an expert is often the easiest approach for business owners. Whether you’re a multi-national corporation or a one-man-band, your budget will depend on you.
To help you get a sense of your website's budget, we weigh up the different cost of DIY, freelancers and agencies. We also break down the smaller website costs, from domain prices, to hosting, to images and content. Read on to find out more.
With the type of website you need to meet your goals, and a ballpark cost for getting started, you’ll be ready to start really designing before you know it.
But it’s a large world you’re entering and as we’ve already established, a website doesn’t stand alone.
It lives with a cluster of other sites that are trying to achieve the exact same thing that you or your business is, whether that’s selling, advertising, or educating.
In other words, your competitors exist here too.
While it may seem as though a customer’s presence on your website means you’ve got their undivided, visual attention – it doesn’t. They can be simultaneously browsing the sites of your competitors and comparing your site against them.
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but our unfortunate nature is to do exactly that.
That’s why it’s so important to know what the website standard is, meet it, and exceed it.
The industry standard is even more important when you think about the fact that your web design is a digital representation of your business. Your customers are going to be looking for visual elements, as well as the common features they expect to see online.
Keeping up with what’s expected, means your website will stand out and help you achieve your goals.
To help you learn what your website needs, we’ll run you through: competitor analysis, what to look for in other websites, and how to exceed the standard.
During the design
Now that we’re getting into the nitty gritty of web design, it’s time to start talking about the specifics of ‘design’ – the look, the feel, the creativity.
Did you know that in just a few split seconds your target customer has formed a judgement on your business?
How? Well, when consumers research products and services online that they are interested in, the first thing they do is decide whether your website looks trustworthy or not.
Think of your website as your “shop front” – the more clean, inviting and eye-catching it is, the more people will walk in.
5 forces of powerful website design
1. Strengthening your brand. Your website should reflect the essence of your brand. It should encompass things such as your logo colour scheme and company value – a quality design aligned with your business will strengthen customer perception and your overall brand.
2. First impressions. They say you shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover”, but when it comes to websites this is reality. Within a few seconds, your target customer decides how they feel about you – if your design is poor they’ll presume your business is too.
3. Customer service reflection. Your website design should be warm and welcoming – just like your service should be. If your design appears lazy or rushed then this is how your web traffic will perceive your customer service.
4. Trust. When it comes to website design a key force to have in mind is trust. People don’t trust poorly designed websites as they appear seedy. Don’t scare your customers away!
5. Competitor standard. Particularly for small businesses and start-ups, when you enter the market you want to differentiate from your competitors. Having an impressive website design will help you stand out.
Whether you’re creating a website yourself or you’re hiring a professional, when it comes to website design, there are a number of elements you need to consider, such as: layout and navigation, design theme, content and mobile-friendliness.
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Now that we’re getting into the finer parts of your website’s details, we’re ready to start talking about content.
‘Content’ has quite a literal meaning here – think of it as the ‘contents’ of your house. Everything from your bed to your dining chairs, can be associated with the contents of a website.
Content is the body that make your website unique.
They’re built up from 3 important elements:
1. Images and videos
And are all essential for website design, creating a website that speaks of your business values, and achieving your goals.
Whether you’re using a website to advertise, sell, or educate, the content you use should be a primary player in assisting you to do this.
Creating and using website content properly, is a strategy for your business.
The balance you strike between each element will create a voice that serves your business purpose, and allows your website to stand out.
In this article, we explore the best ways to use copywriting, images, video and audio on your website...
By now, your website design is well underway with a plan to move forward and the goals to direct you.
You’ve got the elements to your website sorted. It’s jam-packed with absolutely winning content – fluent, strategic copy and the visuals to match.
Your carefully crafted media and content reflects the high quality of your business.
Now take another metaphorical look at your website.
At this point in your design process it’s become a house in the perfect neighbourhood. You’ve figured out what furniture (or content) you need, and where.
But your brand, is what decides the colour of the couch and the shape of the dining table.
In other words, a brand is the factor that determines style, and the finer details in the delivery of your content.
It’s the unifying factor that brings your website together, and is used in other areas of business and strategy, too.
Whatever a website is used for, it’s a visual platform that puts your business on show.
This means that despite the driving force behind your website, customers will look for who you are and what you stand for, in between the lines and pixels of your content.
That’s why it’s so important to align your website design and style of content with your existing, or new, brand.
To help you bring your website and brand together, we dive into the ways you can use your brand strategy, logo and colour schemes throughout your website.
When it comes to SEO, many companies miss the most important steps:
In the most basic sense, SEO is a tool that does two things:
- Determines your ranking on Google
- Drives traffic to your website
Sounds useful right? Yes, SEO is useful, but did you know that a lot of people actually get it wrong?
1. Plan for and create an SEO strategy to fit your website goals
2. Incorporate SEO during the web design process, not after
Wait, so why do you need to add elements of SEO during web design and not after?
This is simple. SEO is a part of design. SEO includes a wide range of elements – from keywords, to backlinks to URLs and crawlers – almost every element of web design incorporates SEO in some way.
Now don’t worry, we’re not just going to throw a bunch of techy web design terms at you and leave it at that.
In this article we’ll break down the 3 key components of SEO that you should know about: on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
While the aim of SEO is to impress Google and drive web traffic to your website, it won’t happen overnight.
SEO is a valuable tool, and like everything valuable; it takes time.
But with careful consideration and a fitted SEO strategy – with time, you’ll get there.
And when it comes to creating a website, you initial design should act as an anchor for SEO, and from there it should be a constant process of update and refinement.
So let's dive in, shall we?
After it's live
Website marketing: tips and best practice
Effective advertising and marketing will increase your traffic flow and get you the customers you need. After all – if no one even knows you exist, your business goes unused.
You’re probably pretty savvy with marketing and advertising your business already, so we don’t need to explain how integral it is to your development and growth.
But how does your website fit in?
Well, the key thing to remember is that you don’t have a website without a company, person, or a plan behind it.
That’s because the website itself is a marketing assistant to the creator.
Extending your presence into the online realm and increasing the influx of customers to your business, your website is a marketing tool you’re going to need to learn how to use.
How does marketing affect your overall plan?
It’s all fun learning how to make a website, but don’t lose sight of your purpose along the way. So take some time to think back on your goals.
This will influence not only how your website looks, but also how you move forward and utilize the features on your site to achieve them – which will become the essence of your website marketing strategy.
Always remember your website’s place in your business and what it intends to do.
Basically, marketing is designed to help your website achieve its goals:
- If your website is designed to sell: marketing through your website and other social platforms will sell your products online, and in store.
- If your website is designed to advertise: marketing will help you gain leads and online traffic towards your business.
- If your website is designed to educate: marketing through your website will help grow your business and gain a following.
So in essence, marketing on your website and online takes on the same purpose as any other form of marketing, and your website design will aid it.
But as it always is, in the online world, there are some things that work differently. We’ll run you through essential skills involved in using your new business tool: how to market on your website, creating a marketing plan and how to use social media.
So you’ve planned your website – it’s your business’s new home in the digital world and it’s perfect. Whether you’ve hired a web designer or done all the work yourself, it’s been a long and careful process you should be proud of.
With a flawless website design, compelling content, strategic SEO, and effective marketing, your website should be fit and ready. It’s time to settle down, and get your website running.
But before you do, you’ll want to be certain that everything takes off the way it should.
Conducting a thorough review of your website’s features and content will help you make sure it’s ready for your customer and able to lead you to succeed.
Taking the time to carefully go through everything is the important last step in ensuring your launch goes off without any problems.
Website reporting and analytics
When it comes to website design, whether you’re a blogger, a small business or an ecommerce website, your aim is to attract web traffic right?
So once you’ve finished adding all those techy, SEO, content and visual elements to your website design, and it's now gone live, what should you be doing next?
You may have just created a killer website design – it may have all the wow factors and SEO tools needed for success – and for now, that’ll help drive web traffic and sales.
But unfortunately nothing lasts forever.
Why? Well as technology grows, and Google develops, so does your target audience. The more changes you see in consumerism and the internet, the more you will see in the expectations of your customers.
So what does all this mean?
You need to keep up to date with not only the industry, and not only the expectations of your target customer, but also – more specific to you – how your website is doing.
By consistently tracking your website design progress – i.e. how much web traffic you are receiving, where they are being directed from, and how long they’re staying for – then you’ll be able to identify room for improvement and take action.
Be progress smart and grow your business faster by tracking your progress, analysing your results and improving your outcomes.
Two main reasons you should be tracking your websites progress:
1. Impress Google. As we’ve explained; when it comes to website design, you need to impress and ‘optimise’ Google (SEO), to drive traffic to your site.
2. Impress your target audience. So you’ve got your target customer on your site. But what comes next is impressing them and further, creating conversions and sales.
Nowadays, the internet is the most influential tool that people use to search for products and services; which is why you should be meeting and exceeding the expectations of both Google and your target customer.
And the best way to maintain this is with regular analytics reporting and refinement.
You’ve successfully completely the hard work in creating a website and finding its place in your business. Congrats! Getting this far is a great achievement!
We’ve looked at planning how to get there, what you need to learn about web design, and most importantly, how to create a website that aligns with your goals.
Your business is about to take a big leap into the future.
But there’s one last stepping stone! Planning how you will use the features of your website, is the final part of your planning.
After all, the entire purpose of a website it to use for your business’s benefit – to move into the future, and to achieve your goals.
Knowing what you need to update, post, and when, will mean your ongoing journey has direction.
So setting a system for how you utilize your website is the last – but arguably the most important – step in your creation process.
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