You may not be a web developer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build a professional website that serves as a marketing tool for your business with some simple web design principles. With a bit of patience, you can learn how to design a website by following our guidance in as little as seven steps.
Web design beginners: If you’re in the beginning stages of building a website, check out our comprehensive guide that gives you everything you need to know about building a small business website, including how to design, build, and launch your website.
How to Design a Website in 7 Easy Steps
Web design may sound complicated (and it can be), but we’ll show you how to easily and strategically design a website that works as a marketing tool. To start, determine the goal of your site, or in other words, what you’re looking to accomplish with your site. Then, do your research on comparable sites and on your audience. Next, collect your branding assets (i.e., your logo and color scheme) and build a wireframe before choosing and customizing a theme.
1. Determine Your Site Goal
In short, start by asking why you need a site. The first thought for many might be as simple as “Well, I know every business needs to have a site these days” or to increase exposure, but if you dig deeper, you’ll most likely find reasons that better suit your business and its needs.
Examples of common site goals:
- To build awareness
- To generate leads
- To drive online sales (e.g., appointment booking, online orders, and so on)
- To drive offline sales
- To build customer loyalty
With a goal in mind, you can then consider how your site will provide value to visitors and with that, have a conversion point for visitors. For example, a site with the goal of driving offline sales might include a Google Maps integration to automatically provide directions from wherever a user is.
2. Explore Comparable Sites
Research other websites, such as competitors within your industry, to get a better understanding of what others are doing (and what your site visitors will be seeing). Take notes on what you like about other sites in regard to general layout, functionality, offers, and calls to action (CTAs). Also, look at what type of conversion points or call-to-action buttons comparable sites are using, and which best serve site visitors.
For example, say you’re building a site for a local landscaping company and you see that another site includes a virtual landscape design tool. Before jumping to use this same tool, determine if it’s worth investing in by researching how many visitors this page gets with a free keyword research tool, such as Ubersuggest. There, you can copy and paste any URL and see visitor stats. This type of research can help you discover what resonates with visitors.
3. Research Your Audience
In order to design a website that effectively speaks to your audience, you have to first understand your audience. For example, work to understand what language they prefer (more casual or more professional, descriptive vs plain, and so on). Consider where the majority of your audience is in the buyer decision-making stages, and what they need to take the next step toward achieving your site’s goal.
Example: A surf school is designing a website and through research, learns that what holds its audience back from booking lessons is fear of the unknown. To overcome this, it plans to include and highlight its rain check policy, a lesson itinerary to tell visitors what to expect, and a list of items to bring on lesson day. It also helps assure potential students by offering a stand-up guarantee, which will be promoted across its site.
4. Create or Collect Brand Identity Assets
If you don’t already have your business’ branding elements created, then you’ll need to get those. This includes your logo, fonts, color scheme, and with that, an idea of the style theme or template you’ll want to use for your site. When creating brand identity assets, consider brand ethos and how your collection of brand identity assets collectively communicates and reinforces what your brand represents.
Brand identity assets to create or collect include:
- Color scheme
- Theme and layout (how modern, traditional, and so on)
5. Build a Wireframe to Map Your User’s Journey
Next, map your user’s journey through your site by building a wireframe, or a mock-up of a site’s structure. This includes choosing which web page you need to include on your site and with that, consider how visitors will logically navigate through your site from page to page (ending with achieving your site goal).
As you build a wireframe, keep in mind user experience (UX) web design best practices, such as keeping the site clean and easy to use with navigation that makes sense and pages that lead with the most important information. Consider what type of information each web page should include based on the unique needs of the visitors who will be interested in reading that page.
Tip: Use a free wireframe tool, such as MockFlow, to easily build out your site’s user interface (UI).
Elements of a Website
Every website consists of certain elements. These include the homepage, supporting web pages, site navigation, a call to action, and a conversion point. Collectively, these elements make up a website and enable it to serve as a marketing tool that can effectively build brand awareness, generate leads, drive online sales, and drive offline sales.
- Web pages
- Call to action
- Conversion point
Tip: New to web design and want more information about the standard site elements? Get all the information you need about website basics.
6. Choose a Theme or Template That Best Matches Your Brand Identity
Next, take your time finding and choosing a website theme or template (depending on which site builder you plan to use) that matches your brand identity. In other words, choose a template that already looks and functions how you want your site to look and function. By doing so, you’ll reduce the amount of time it will take to build your site and it will help ensure that your site effectively works as a marketing tool for your business.
Example: A campground is designing a site to not only promote their services but to drive online bookings. Rather than finding a generic business theme, it finds an accommodation theme that has built-in booking tools for the travel and hospitality industry. This makes it easy to customize as it already includes everything the business needs for its site.
7. Customize Your Theme or Template
By now, you have everything you need to start building your site. Customize your theme or template using a site builder. Build out your web pages, customize your header with your logo, update for your footer, and configure navigation with your user journey in mind and while referring to your wireframe (mock-up).
In order for a site to be live, you’ll need to get a domain name (if you don’t already have one) and web hosting if you’re using WordPress. These two things will enable your business website to be live on the web.
Tip: Make a plan to optimize your site design and use insight and conversion rate optimization tools such as Crazy Egg and Yoast SEO. By building your site with these tools, you can later improve and optimize your site for better search rankings, user experience, and conversions.
Get the step-by-step instructions on how to build a website using the following platforms:
Frequently Asked Questions
Which site builders have the best web design?
The all-in-one site builder that’s best known for professional web design and high-quality templates is Squarespace. It’s a top-rated site builder that is highly regarded for well-designed templates that make it easy for anyone to design their own site in little time and at an affordable price.
How do I get a domain name?
There are a couple of ways to get a domain name. First, buy one from a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy or Namecheap. You can also get one for free with most web hosting plans, such as through Bluehost or DreamHost, or with an all-in-one site builder plan such as with Squarespace or Wix. The difficulty is finding a domain name that’s available. To help, learn more about choosing a domain name.
How do I design an ecommerce website?
It’s easier than ever to design and build an online store. Whether you choose to build your site using WordPress or opt for an easy-to-use site builder such as Squarespace or Shopify, you’ll need to get a domain name, sign up for a plan (a web hosting plan for WordPress sites), choose an ecommerce theme or template, customize your site, add products, configure store settings, and launch your site. Get the step-by-step instructions on how to build an ecommerce website.
Bottom Line: How to Design a Website
Good web design is actually pretty simple. It puts the reader at the core of everything to ensure a good user experience with straightforward navigation, concise language, and provide ways for a reader (and a business) to get what they want. Hopefully, this guide has taken some of the fear out of starting your web design project and has given you the tools you need to launch your new business website.
If you’re still hesitant to take on the job of designing your website, you may want to consider investing in professional web design. Companies like Lyfe Marketing make getting a professionally designed site more affordable than most imagine and can help you get your site up and running in no time.