Designing a website is more than just worrying about aesthetics and making it look neat and appealing. It needs to achieve a harmonious synthesis of web elements—visuals, indicators, interactions, and text—that work toward a defined goal. For businesses, that would be attracting visitors and helping users understand the company, branding, and products it offers.
So how exactly do you achieve that? By following a holistic web designing process that takes both function and form into account. Here are the critical steps to follow in order to create a web design for your business:
1. Determine Your Goals
During the initial stage, you need to identify the end goal of your website design, typically in close collaboration with stakeholders. You need to explore these questions to define the purpose of your website:
- Who is the audience?
- What do users expect to do or find on the website?
- What is the website’s primary purpose: to inform, amuse, or sell?
- Does it need to convey your brand’s core message clearly, or is it a part of a broader branding strategy with a unique focus?
- Does it have any competitor sites? If so, how should your site be different from or inspired by those competitors?
If those questions aren’t answered clearly in the brief, the whole project can start in the wrong direction. It can be helpful to write out clearly identified goals or a summary of your expected objectives and aims. This should help put the web design on the right path.
2. Define The Budget And Timeline
Perhaps the most challenging and common problem seen in web design projects is a murky scope of timeline and budget.
You might set out with an objective or goal in your mind, but this gradually evolves, changes, or expands altogether during the design process. You’ll start with the goal of designing a website, but then you’ll end up wanting to build push notifications, create a web app, do email marketing, and more.
While this isn’t an issue for web designers, increased expectations are often unmatched by an increase in timeline or budget, making the project unrealistic.
A Gantt chart can be employed to manage and prevent going over the expected timeline and cost of web design. It helps detail an achievable timeline and cost for the project, including any significant landmarks to set boundaries and realistic deadlines.
It provides an invaluable reference for clients and designers alike, helping keep everyone focused on the goals and task at hand.
3. Draw A Sitemap And Wireframes
Once you have a clear goal and timeline and a budgeting scope, it’s time to build your sitemaps and wireframes. Think of a sitemap as a blueprint. It helps give you a clear idea of a website’s information architecture and defines the relationships between various elements and pages.
Then, you’ll need to build a mockup of the visual design of a website known as a wireframe. It offers a framework for storing content elements and graphic design and helps determine potential gaps and challenges with your sitemap. It shows you where the navigation is, where you’ll place videos or images, where the logo will be, etc.
A wireframe doesn’t contain any final design elements and only acts as a guide for how your website will look. It also serves as an inspiration in formatting various aspects.
4. Fill It With Content
Once you’re done with the framework, it’s time to fill your site with content—from headlines and body copy to product descriptions to brand and team information.
Depending on the goals, it might be worth hiring an SEO or content marketing agency to assist with your content in order to drive action and engagement or boost your website’s visibility for search engines.
5. Create The Visual Elements
By now, your website should look plain and dull with unappealing blocks of text. It’s time to make it livelier by adding the visuals. This part of the web design process will often be shaped by existing brand elements, logos and color, and font choices.
Visual elements are taking a more significant role in the success of web design. Not only can it make your website look more professional, but it can also communicate your brand’s messaging and build trust.
Consider working with a professional photographer to capture the right images for your website. While you can try using free stock photos, those will make your website look generic. You also need to choose a color and font scheme, ensuring uniformity throughout your site and establishing brand identity.
Visual design is a way to appeal and communicate to your site’s users. Done right, it’ll contribute to the success of your website. Done wrong, the site will just become another web address.
6. Test It And Go Live
Once your website finally looks like a website, it’s time to test it. Testing ensures that your website loads correctly on all browsers and devices, the links are working, and the visuals look as good as they should. Testing allows you to find minor coding errors and mistakes so you can fix them before going public.
Once the test passes in flying colors, it’s time to launch! Even if you do rigorous testing, don’t expect your launch to go perfectly. There’ll still be some elements that’d require fixing, and that’s acceptable.
Remember: web design is a continually developing process that requires constant maintenance. Once your website goes live, you have to keep testing new visuals, features, and content, refining your brand’s messaging, and monitoring analytics. In doing so, you can keep it up to date and tweak it from time to time to meet your target audience’s needs and preferences.
And there you have it—you’ve just learned how to design a functioning website in six simple steps. Hopefully, this article has helped you go from a blank idea to a thought-through website that quickly gets off the ground.
Just keep in mind, though, that you’re never 100% done with your site’s design or development. There’s always room for improvement, which would allow your website to continue thriving in the competitive digital world.