7 Bonus web design tips for creating a site that looks great and packs a punch
Anyone can build a better website, in fact creating a website for your business for free is even possible. The process is not difficult, but it does require some patience and basic tools. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process, from registering a domain name to launching your new website. So whether you want to rebuild your existing site or want to find out how to build a website from scratch, we have you covered.
- Why build/rebuild a website in the first place?
- What goes into creating a website
- How to build and launch your website
- Website design tips
- Maintaining your website over time
Why build/rebuild a website in the first place?
There are many reasons for wanting to rebuild or build a better website, but first, it can be helpful to examine why you want to undertake this project. Your motivations for wanting to build a better website will serve as a useful guide to the functionality as well as look and feel of the site you will ultimately build.
Build a bucket list of the objectives that a new website will help you achieve and the core ‘must have’ functionality that it will need to deliver to achieve your objectives. Next, rank these by importance, inevitably there will be things that are outside of your budget to build, or ‘nice to have’ elements that could fall into the second phase of development or be built if the budget allows.
Once you have examined the why of the build, you will be in a good position to consider whether a third-party service could be utilised instead of a build/rebuild and if most of your motivations are around refreshing your brand whether just a design refresh of your existing site might be a better option.
Ultimately a website is a powerful marketing and communication tool that can help you achieve many business goals. It can be used to build brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales, but it is important to define what you want out of it, as this will help you avoid expensive mistakes of how you are going to build it. If you need help with defining your objectives or developing a website design brief, please drop us a line, we would love to help.
What goes into creating a website
Creating a website involves working through a variety of key steps, from registering a domain name to designing the site itself:
- Get a domain name and URL
- Set up an email address to match your domain name
- Organise hosting
- Designing your website
- How to build a better website
- Test your website
- Launch your website
We’ll go over each of these steps in detail below.
How to build a better website
Building a better website is fairly easy, these days you don’t necessarily need any coding experience or design know-how, just a little patience and some basic tools. Alternatively, you could utilise a design agency, hire freelancers, or a web development company depending on the complexity of your project. Which route you choose will depend on having a clear idea of what you want out of the website.
Total Time: 30 days
1. Get a domain name and URL
The first step in creating a website is to choose a domain name. This is the name of your website (e.g., www.example.com) and will be used to identify your site on the internet.
Ideally, this should be your brand name, but in some cases, this isn’t possible to also decide which suffixes (e.g. .com, .co, .co.uk) are most relevant to your business.
Also, consider buying all the suffixes that might be relevant to your business in the future as these can redirect to your main domain name until you are ready to use them.
Once you’ve chosen a domain name, you’ll need to register it with a domain name registrar. This is a company that will manage the reservation of your domain name and ensures that it’s available for you to use.
2. Set up an email address to match your domain name
Setting up an email address to match your domain name is a key part of having a website. This will ensure that all communications related to your website(s) – such as inquiries or feedback – come directly to you, rather than through a third-party provider. You will also need an email address to set up an administrator account on many of the hosting and CMS platforms, so it makes sense to do it at this stage.
There are many different providers that offer email services, but we recommend using Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite). For a small monthly fee per user, you’ll get access to all the features you need, including email, storage space, and a whole host of other office software in one package.
3. Organise hosting
Once you’ve registered your domain name, you’ll need to set up a web hosting account. This is where your website’s files will be stored and accessed by visitors on the internet. There are many web hosting companies to choose from, so be sure to do your research and find one that offers the features and price that you’re looking for.
It is a good idea to understand how big your existing site is (if you have one), and how much traffic it currently receives, as this will give you a guide to work out how much storage and bandwidth you’ll and will help you select the right provider for your needs. If you don’t already have a site, it is still worth estimating how big the site will be and how much traffic you need to receive. If you are working with a good development company, they should be able to make recommendations on this.
4. Designing your website
The next step to building a better website is to define what information you want to present on the site. To do this outline the key pages and their function (i.e. how do they help users? what information do they need? what do you want them to do after visiting a page?).
Once this is completed for each page then decide how you will present all of this information within a logical taxonomy. At this stage, it is useful to develop navigational elements which will help users find what they are looking for. One approach might be to use a card sort to see how people naturally categorize the information you want to present.
After this, you should be in a position to start looking at the layout for your site. This will involve deciding what pages will be included, as well as the elements such as headers, footers, and sidebars that will appear on each page. It is quite often useful to create a wireframe of at least the key pages at this stage so your team can visualise how each page will work.
Next, you’ll need to choose a colour scheme and font for your website. Often this is relatively easy if you have brand guidelines or a playbook. If not, they should be based on the overall look and feel that you’re going for with your site, your partners or an in-house designer should be able to help here.
Then, you’ll need to create all the assets that will be included in the website. For each page on the website create a text document together with associated assets such as photos, videos, and graphics that will be used. Make sure you get any sign-offs required at this stage to avoid lengthy delays and confusion. Creating these in advance of the build will save you a huge amount of time and money whether you are doing it yourself or engaging freelancers or agencies to help you.
5. Build your website
Once you have a design for your website, it’s time to actually start to build a better website. There are many different ways to build a better website, but the most common is to use a content management system (CMS). A CMS is a software platform that allows you to create and manage your website’s content without having to write any code.
Alternatively, as we have already outlined you could use external help such as freelancers or agencies depending on the complexity of the project.
Most simple builds are created on top of a website maker platform like Wix or Squarespace. However, if your build is more complex, CMS platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal might be the best website builder. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses, so make sure your objectives are clear and your budget has already been set.
Once you’ve selected a CMS, you’ll need to install it on your web server. This can usually be done with just a few clicks through your web hosting company’s control panel.
After your CMS is installed, you’ll need to choose a theme for your website. A theme is a pre-designed template that you can use to give your site a specific look and feel. There are thousands of themes available for each CMS, so be sure to take your time and find one that fits the style of your site. Tip – Prioritise page load speed and SEO over fancy animations and transitions.
Next, you’ll need to add your website’s content. This can include text, images, videos, and anything else you want your visitors to see. Be sure to add new content regularly to keep your site fresh and engaging.
6. Test your website
Finally, test, test test. This is a stage that often gets overlooked by first-time builders, but it will pay off dividends in the long run. Make sure all of the functionality of the site works on a variety of mobiles and desktops with different browsers. Also, check layouts are responsive and do not break.
Lastly ensure your assets such as graphics, logos, photos, and videos are in the right place, and please check your copy. There are services you can use for this such as usertesting.com, but also make sure you do your own testing first.
7. Launching your website
After you’ve added all of your website’s content and tested it, it’s time to publish it for the world to see. If you have a pre-existing site you will also need to consider your existing site and decide what you will do with the pages that have been ranking in search. Otherwise, launching simply means making your site live on the internet.
To do this, you’ll need to change your domain’s DNS settings to point to your web server. This can usually be done through your registrar’s control panel. Once your DNS settings have been updated, your website will be live and accessible to anyone on the internet. Job done!
But not really, then you will need to make sure your site is indexed with all the major search engines and promoted. Use social media, email marketing, and other marketing channels to get the word out.
Use Google Analytics or another analytics tool to track the traffic coming to your site. This will help you understand what’s working and what’s not, so you can make changes accordingly. If you have a pre-existing site it is worth considering this before launch and undertaking an SEO project to decide how you are going to migrate over to the new site.
- Domain name, email address,
- Content Management System, Web Hosting
Materials: Copy, Images, Videos, Graphics, and Logos
7 Website design tips
Creating a beautiful website is easier than you think, by following these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to designing a site that looks great and packs a punch.
- Use professional photos: High-quality images make a big difference in the overall look of your site. Don’t settle for stock photos – hire a professional photographer to take some great shots of your products or services.
- Keep it simple: When it comes to website design, less is usually more. Avoid clutter and stick to a clean, minimalist design.
- Use whitespace: Whitespace is your friend when it comes to website design. It makes your site look clean and organized, and it can help highlight important content.
- Use colour wisely: Colour is a great way to add visual interest to your site. But be careful – too much colour can be overwhelming. Stick to a limited colour palette and use contrasting colours to make your content pop.
- Use typography: Typography is an important part of website design. Choose a font that is easy to read and looks good on all devices.
- Implement responsive design: Responsive design is a must in today’s mobile-first world. Make sure your site looks great on all devices, from phones to tablets to laptops.
- Optimize for search engines: Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for getting your website seen by potential customers. Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions, and make sure your site is easy to navigate.
10 Tips for maintaining your website
- Keep your website updated with fresh content
- Use a good SEO plugin to optimize your site for search engines
- Install security plugins to protect your site from hackers
- Use Google Analytics or another analytics tool to track the traffic coming to your site
- Make sure your website is backed up regularly
- Use a responsive design to make sure your site looks great on all devices
- Use social media to promote your content and products
- Make sure your contact information is up to date
- Regularly check your website for broken links and other errors
By following these simple tips, you can build a better website that will stand the test of time.
Building a better website is pretty easy and you don’t necessarily need any coding experience or design know-how, just a little patience, and some basic tools. But there are limitations to doing everything yourself. If it is a more complex project, often it is more cost-effective to bring in a specialist service, agency, or outside A first-time build is much easier than a rebuild as you will not have to consider how you migrate across to the new one. In either case, always consider the SEO implications and run an SEO project alongside the build, as a BrightEdge study found that 53% of trackable traffic still comes from organic search.Marketing Companies UK – Directory of UK Marketeers