In the early days of the internet, creating and maintaining a website was a highly specialized task. You had to know how to create code, layout, design, and other related elements. Thanks to the creation of website builders, you can design your own website without this specialized knowledge and easily create an online presence for your business. This can help put your products and services in front of potential customers and users. We’re discussing topics like:
Website design is the look and feel of your business’s online space. The design incorporates creative elements like images, colors, fonts, and graphics. The more complex parts of web design may include choosing widgets or third-party processes for a more inclusive user experience.
Image via Unsplash by Igor Miske
Website development includes the coding and technical processes that make a website work. Website design lays the groundwork for development. This means that in the design phase, you decide how you want things to look and how they connect. Then, in development, the team or website building software takes those ideas and puts functioning parts behind them.
Your website’s design is the first impression you make on an online visitor. A website that is both visually attractive and easy to navigate can make your brand seem both engaging and reliable. Keeping your website updated with current, easy-to-read, and accurate information can help your company stand out as a legitimate and knowledgeable resource in your industry.
Use these steps to design a quality website:
There are many types of websites you can create based on your company’s needs and goals. Some options include:
Once you decide what kind of website you want, you can then clarify its purpose. Some websites have one clearly defined purpose, like serving as an online store. Others mix and match elements depending on what the company offers. For example, if you work as an independent wedding planner, you may include both a blog and a portfolio on your freelancer website to show off your work and build an audience through blogging about wedding planning trends.
Think about what you want people to do, experience, or understand when they visit your site. This gives you a better idea of who you’re trying to reach and how to interact with them through your website experience. These choices can help shape your content strategy later in the process.
Researching the latest trends in web design can give you an idea of what’s popular and effective with audiences. Fads in design and technology change often and quickly, so learning what’s trending before you create your website can give you ideas so you don’t have to start from scratch. Try researching trends by industry, age, gender, and in general to get ideas. Then you can combine elements to meet your needs and the preferences of your target audience.
Your branding helps define who you are as a company. You may already have branding materials created before you make a website. Consider your logo, tagline, and color scheme. These are the elements people see and associate with your business, so it’s useful to include them on your website as well. Also, consider your brand voice. Are you relaxed or professional? Are you funny and inviting? Deciding on these elements before you build your website influences your style and content decisions later.
A website builder is a program that helps you create a website. These are ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to do much coding to create their website. With builders, you can design and publish your site content through text editors and wizards where the program does the coding for you. This allows you to focus exclusively on the aesthetics. Some online website builders include:
Google Sites is a free basic website builder that offers several different templates based on your website’s purpose. You can connect a domain name to your project through Google My Business if your company has a physical address. This program also integrates well with other Google products.
Jimdo offers both free and paid plans for its builder. Free features include 500 MB of web space and a limit of five site pages. You also have access to a setup assistant. Paid plans let you remove ads from your site, secure a unique domain name, and utilize more pages and web space.
Squarespace focuses on creative website design. They offer many visually attractive templates with design flexibility. Their builder also has industry-specific features for different needs. For pricing, Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial and long-term paid plans.
Ucraft offers some free features that other website builders don’t. With this program, you can connect an existing domain name for free. You also get 15 site pages and secure sockets layer (SSL) security at no extra cost. Paid plans allow access to more advanced elements like SEO features and unlimited pages.
Webnode is a modern website editor with many themes to choose from. You can start your website for free, then choose from several tiers of paid plans that offer features like e-commerce integration and editor support. Webnode also allows you to update your website from a tablet or phone so that you can make instant changes from any device.
One of the unique features of Webstarts is its drag-and-drop editor. Rather than relying on a template that many other businesses may use, this allows you to create a customized website. The free version also includes 1 GB of storage space and live chat with customer support. Paid versions include custom domain names, social media integration, search engine submission, and increased site and storage space.
The free version of Weebly comes with e-commerce, marketing, and customer support features. It also includes 500 MB of space, no page limit, and SEO for all pages. Paid plans allow you to create a custom domain name and remove ads.
Wix’s free version has minimal restrictions on features and templates. Their editor is flexible, and you can also access their app market. Other free features include full SEO customization, 500 MB of web space, and no page limit. Paid tiers let you remove the Wix ads from your website and remove the “.wix” from your domain name.
The WordPress website and blog builder offers many tools for both free and paid sites. Free plans include a variety of themes, compatibility with third-party services, and the use of mix-and-match “blocks” technology. They also integrate with e-commerce sites, provide analytics, and offer mobile editing. Paid plans include ad removal, custom domain names, and the ability to collect online payments.
Many website builders offer both layout templates and the option to start your layout from scratch. Your comfort level with design may help you choose which option is right for you. Often, most people choose a pre-made template and then adjust it to meet their needs. If you start with a blank layout, consider reviewing the available features and then creating a sketch or map on paper before working online.
You can often choose between multi- and single-page templates. Multi-page templates work well for websites that share different but related types of content. For example, you may have an online store, an FAQ page, and an “About us” page. Single-page templates work for single-function sites, such as portfolios with rotating galleries.
Your domain name, or what comes after the “www.” in the address bar, is your internet address. Many people consider customized domain names more professional and trustworthy. They also usually denote that you’re paying for web space rather than using a service for free. Domain names can help search engines understand your website’s purpose, which can bring more traffic. When choosing a domain name, consider:
Tools like Google Domains can help you find available website names. To use this tool, type your desired domain into the search bar to find out if it’s for sale and the cost per month to use it. If the exact one you want isn’t available, the tools can give you suggestions for related names.
Content is everything that goes onto your site: images, logos, videos, text, and plugins. Make sure you’re using content you’ve created or content created for you. If you need supplemental content, consider royalty-free stock photos or videos from sites like Unsplash. When using third-party content, be attentive to the creator’s terms of service. It’s good practice to give credit with each element, such as the creator’s name and a link back to the original content.
Content is important, but so is its location. Organize your site logically so it’s easy for users to browse. Organization also helps bots and search engines crawl and understand your content. When creating a multi-page website, consider adding pages like:
Incorporating your company branding into your website design can elevate your final product. You’ll also want to be attentive to the technical elements: ease of navigation and user experience are two of the most important factors of web design. Elements that aid usability include:
Professional tools help you run an interactive business from your website. In addition to providing information, you can converse with customers, take payments, and provide consultations. The type of business you run can determine which professional tools work best. Some options include:
An accessible website is one that anyone with any condition can view and enjoy on any device. People with vision impairments, hearing loss, temporary injuries, and other conditions may use assistive programs or devices to help them access your content. Optimizing your site for these needs can help grow your audience. When adding adaptive features, consider:
Mobile accounts make up about half of all worldwide web traffic. Because of this, optimizing for mobile can help you reach more people. Your website builder may offer layouts that automatically convert from desktop to mobile formats. Design elements that can help you plan for mobile browsing include:
Improving your search engine optimization (SEO) can help people to find your website and keep them coming back. You can enhance your SEO through:
Another way to improve your SEO is through a site crawl analysis. Download CopyPress’ free eBook on site crawl analysis to learn more about how it can enhance both your SEO and your overall website visitor experience.
Your website is a tool you can use to connect with visitors. While online, you can answer their questions or provide help and dialogue in certain situations. Including options like live chats, newsletter sign-ups, and feedback forms make this communication possible.
Before you launch your website, it’s helpful to seek feedback from trusted sources. Even if you think you’ve looked over everything carefully, having someone else review your website draft may help you catch things you missed. Consider asking someone else in your company or on your team to view it. You may also consider releasing a beta version to valued customers or asking a friend or family member for help. Ask people to check your spelling, use the navigation, and test the site on desktop and mobile devices to make sure you’ve polished everything.
Publishing your website is the last step before your content becomes live on the internet. Most website builders have a “Publish” button to let you know your content is live. You can then visit your website by typing the domain name into the address bar in your browser.
After your content is live, you can track your website data to understand its performance. Most website builders also include analytics programs that help you track the number of visitors and how they interact with your site. This data can indicate whether your site is easy to use. It can also help influence future updates and improvements.
Keeping your website information and inventory current helps visitors see it as credible. Make sure your phone numbers, social media links, and other contact information are up to date. It’s also a good idea to check your inbound and outbound links regularly to make sure they work. All of these things help users access what they need more quickly.
Best practices for accessibility and other standards may develop over time. Additionally, staying current with SEO trends can help you keep your search engine rankings. Paying attention to what makes websites useful can help you improve your website quality for visitors in the future.
Websites are customizable to meet your needs. Website builders and other content services can help you present the best parts of your business to your online audience. Learning how to make adjustments for trends and functionality can help keep your site popular for years to come.
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