How to Design a Website for Complete Idiots

  (photo credit: Adcore studio)
(photo credit: Adcore studio)

Learn how to design a website without needing design or coding experience. These tips will show you how to start the design process and end up with a site that looks good and meets your goals. Read on for more details on the specific steps from start to finish, and consider why each step is important.

Do you want to learn how to design a website with no experience? Web development and design don't have to be difficult.

You can create a website with the best website builder in no time. However, you must use the right steps to get through the process.

Read on to learn what goes into creating a website you can be proud of.

Table of Contents:

  • Know the Purpose
  • Review Similar Websites
  • Hire Help You Need
  • Set a Budget
  • Think About the Deadline
  • Compare Website Builders
    • Choose a Website Host
  • Look at Themes and Templates
  • Buy a Domain
  • Decide What Pages to Create
  • Create the Content
  • Select Your Brand Elements
  • Add a Menu
  • Install Apps or Plugins
  • Design a Responsive Version
  • Improve Accessibility
  • Implement SEO
  • Get Feedback
  • Add Analytics
  • Install an SSL
  • Publish the Site
  • Update Regularly
  • How to Design a Website: In Review

Know the Purpose

One of the most important aspects of web design is having a goal or purpose. You can create a website for almost anything, from an online store to a blog or portfolio site.

Having a plan for your site can help you come up with the overall design. It could also help you choose between website builders that offer the features your site needs.

Maybe you want to book clients, so you look for a builder that offers appointment scheduling. The right website creator and design for you can differ from another similar site.

Be sure to write down what you want your site to do. Then, you can keep that in mind when you make decisions about the design.

Review Similar Websites

After you have an idea of why you want to create your own website, go online. Look at sites that are similar to what you want your site to do.

For example, when creating an online store, look at other online stores. Consider how those websites look, what colors they use, and the layout of the site.

You should also contemplate what you do or don't like about a website. Then, you'll know what to avoid or what to include when creating yours.

If you plan to hire a designer, take screenshots of the sites you review. Write down your thoughts to help the designer get an idea of your style.

Even if you design the site yourself, having a record of other sites can help. Then, you won't have to look up the competitors every time you need to reference them.

Related articles: How Literally Anyone Can Make an eCommerce Business by Themself 

Hire Help You Need

Another thing to consider is if you'll want to hire help with your website. If we are designing a simple site, you might be able to do it yourself or with your current team.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

However, it can help to outsource part or all of the design process. Think about what you need help with the most, and hire out for that. For example, if you're not great at writing product descriptions, you may hire a writer to work on the store part of your site.

Of course, if you're not comfortable with design, you can hire a website designer. They'll help you create the site of your dreams.

Hiring help can also help expedite the web design process. The more people working on your site, the more you can get done each day or week. So, you could launch the site sooner.

Set a Budget

Whether you do all of the web designing yourself or not, you need a budget. Of course, hiring someone will probably be the biggest expense, and it can cost thousands of dollars.

Even if you don't hire a designer, you have to pay for your website domain and hosting. You might also choose to pay for a premium website template or theme. Some apps and plugins can also cost money to use.

Be sure to consider your initial budget as well as your annual budget. A web design service and a template may only cost money once. However, you'll need to pay for your domain and hosting each year.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

Knowing your budget can help you when it comes to how to design a website. You can make sure that you only include elements you can afford. Luckily, you'll be able to add more features and upgrade your hosting later when you have more money.

Think About the Deadline

You may or may not have a concrete deadline to follow. However, you should think about when you'd ideally launch your new website.

Then, you can determine how much time you have to design a website. You can use that to break down the entire task into smaller steps. Assign those steps to specific days or weeks or to team members if you have others to help you.

For example, if you want to launch in a month, you could write all of the content this week. In week two, you might choose a domain and website hosting plan. The third week can be for reviewing the design and adding technical elements.

That gives you the fourth week to go over your site and make any edits you want. When your launch day arrives, your site will be ready to go.

Compare Website Builders

One of the best options for how to design a website is to use a website builder. You can find a variety of site builders, such as WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace.

Be sure to compare a few options and learn about the features and benefits of each. Also, take a look at how much each tool will cost and if it will be easy for you to use. You can read reviews from customers to learn even more.

However, take the reviews with a grain of salt. What works for one person may or may not work for you, so you should consider all possible factors to choose your ideal website builder.

Narrow your search to two site builders, and compare them in more depth. You might find one is much better for you than the other, so you select that. However, you may need to learn even more about the details to choose one.

Choose a Website Host

Wix and Squarespace are nice because they're website builders and hosts in one. You could use WordPress as a platform and host. However, WordPress.org is the more professional version, and it's separate from website hosting.

If you go with WordPress, you'll also need to look at website hosts. Some hosting plans are more affordable than others, and some companies offer better features and support.

Many hosts offer a one-click installation of WordPress, so you don't need to do it yourself. That makes it really easy to set up your website and start working on it.

Refer back to your budget and the purpose of the site. Then, you can ensure the host you select will help you create the site you want.

Look at Themes and Templates

After you select a platform and sign up for an account, you can start with the web page design process. You can hire a web developer to code your site from scratch. However, many website owners will look for a website theme or template.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

The theme or template dictates the overall design and layout of your site. You should be able to customize it a bit, but you don't have to create all of the elements.

WordPress calls them themes, while other platforms call them templates. Whatever the term, you can find some designs that work well for specific types of sites. Some templates are great for online stores, while others are more suitable for blogs.

Consider how easy it will be to customize the theme to meet your needs. You can also look specifically for free options, or you can include some money for one in your budget. Then, you could get a unique design.

Related articles: How Literally Anyone Can Make an eCommerce Business by Themself 

Buy a Domain

When you're ready to start creating the website, you'll need to buy a domain. You can start designing a site without an active domain. However, the domain will serve as the online address for your overall website.

A good website name is short and easy to spell and say. It also uses a more common top-level domain (TLD), such as .com or .net, since those are easier to remember.

You can buy a domain through your website host, which is usually the easiest option. However, some hosts charge more for domains than others. If you want to save money, find a cheaper domain registrar to buy the domain.

Then, you can point the domain from your registrar to your hosts. You only have to do this once, and your website can work as if you bought the domain from your hosting provider.

Decide What Pages to Create

If you haven't already, you should determine what web pages you'll want. Most websites benefit from a home page, an about page, and a contact page.

When designing an online store, you may want to have a shop page where you list your products. If you're a service provider, you can create a services page or a work with me page to list your services.

You should create a blog page if your website is a blog. That way, visitors can find all of the posts in one place, and you can create a separate home page.

Some websites have testimonial pages to share what others have to say. Think back to when you looked at competing sites, and consider what pages they have to help inform your site.

Related articles: How Literally Anyone Can Make an eCommerce Business by Themself 

Create the Content

Next, you should create the content for each of your website pages. Many websites include both text and images. You could also add an introduction video for visitors to get to know you.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

Either way, plan out the content you want to include on each of the pages. You can create the content yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Be sure to proofread the text before you publish the website.

When it comes to images, make sure they look good with your website branding. You might also want to compress the files so that they don't take up as much storage space.

Finally, you can add new pages and place the content where it needs to go. Then, you'll be able to preview the site to make sure the content looks good.

Select Your Brand Elements

If you haven't already, you should create your branding and brand kit. This refers to some of the visual aspects of your brand or business.

You should consider what vibe you want your site to give off. If your site is more professional, you may stick to black, white, and other neutral colors. On the other hand, if your brand is more fun, you can use bright colors.

Think about the fonts as well, and keep in mind the vibe of your brand. A more professional brand will probably avoid cursive fonts, for example.

You can then use your brand elements to create a logo if you don't have one. As you design your site, change the colors and fonts to match those you select for your brand.

Add a Menu

Another crucial step in how to design a website is to help people navigate it. You can do this by creating a menu to go along the top of your website.

The navigation menu can include links to all of your main pages, such as home, about, and contact. That way, website visitors will be able to find what they need.

Place the navigation bar near the top of your site. You can also add a search bar on your site to offer even more guidance for website visitors. A search bar is especially useful for websites with blogs since the site will eventually have dozens of pages.

Install Apps or Plugins

You can create a basic website, launch it, and go on. However, you may want or need to add more advanced features and functions.

Apps and plugins are the perfect way to do this without having to write code. You can find apps or plugins to create an eCommerce store or book appointments.

Some plugins are free, while others cost money. There are even plugins with free and premium versions, so you can test the plugin before you invest in it.

As with the website platform, compare similar apps and plugins. Then, you can select the ones that meet your needs the best.

Related: How Literally Anyone Can Make an eCommerce Business by Themself 

Design a Responsive Version

In 2021, over half of the web traffic came from a mobile device. If you want to access those visitors, you need a website that's responsive on a smaller screen.

Many website builders let you create a mobile version of your site. You should be able to design the responsive site within your regular website admin panel.

Responsive design includes optimizing images and media for the smaller screen. You'll also want to condense your navigation bar so that it doesn't take up as much room. The overall design should look good on a phone or tablet.

Improve Accessibility

Regardless of the mobile or desktop version, you should also make your website accessible. Be sure you use headings to break up the text.

Try to avoid using colors that are hard to see against the background color of your site. You should also add alt text to all of your images. That way, a screen reader can explain the image to a blind or low-vision user.

If you add videos or audio, include transcripts for people who can't listen to the media. Having an accessible site means you can get views from more people.

Adding accessible features may seem like a lot, but it's worth the work. Then, you may even get more customers or clients, especially if competitor sites aren't accessible.

Implement SEO

The next step in how to design a website is to use search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is where you design your site and content to help it appear in search results.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

Some website builders have SEO features ready to go. On WordPress, you can install a variety of SEO plugins to help you optimize your content.

Be sure you choose a good keyword for each page and blog post you write. Use that keyword throughout the text and in the alt text of your images. Do this for every page or post to give your site more chances to rank in search results.

Get Feedback

As you get close to finishing the website, ask others for their thoughts. Ideally, you'd show the website to your ideal clients or website visitors. They'll give you the best responses on how to improve your site.

However, any feedback can help, especially with more general things. If your site is hard to navigate, you'll know to update your navigation menu, for example.

Be sure to pay attention to anything that multiple people tell you. That way, you can know what to focus on when improving your site before you officially launch it.

Try not to take negative feedback personally. Hopefully, the people helping you want to see you and your website succeed, so they aren't trying to hurt you.

Add Analytics

A more technical part of your website you should add is an analytics tool. Google Analytics is the industry standard, but you can also use other options. For example, Jetpack is the standard WordPress tool, and other platforms have their own tools.

No matter which one you use, install one so that you can track website views. You'll also be able to see where the views come from and which pages get the most attention.

That can help you track the success of your website. You can use the analytics to determine what content to share more of on your site in the future. Then, you'll be able to reach the goal you set out for your site.

Install an SSL

While it's not technically part of the design, you should install a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. Security is a vital aspect of designing websites, and SSLs can help encrypt the data on your site.

An SSL can help your customers and visitors trust your site more, especially if you take payments directly on your website. Having a secure website can also help improve your SEO so that your site ranks higher in search results.

Some website hosts offer a free SSL certificate, but you can pay for a more advanced version. Either way, you should install an SSL when you launch your site. Be sure to keep it active and monitor your site to make sure the certificate doesn't expire and cause problems.

If you do have to pay for an SSL, it's very worth it. You and your visitors won't have to worry as much about a hacker getting your data.

Publish the Site

Once you're done with the content and the overall design, you're ready to publish the site. You can now share the website on your social media accounts or through email.

Credit: UNSPLASHCredit: UNSPLASH

Even if you use SEO, it can take a while for a new site to get organic search views. Sharing the site yourself can help you get your first few page views and customers.

If you have a blog on your site, you should also set up a posting schedule. That way, you'll always have new content ready to go. You'll be able to attract visitors back to your site so that they can learn more.

Update Regularly

For better or worse, you're never done designing your website. After you publish it, you'll want to keep an eye on any updates to the software or plugins. Performing those updates can help secure your site from hackers.

You may also want to watch web design trends, especially for your specific industry. Then, you can change the design so that it looks more modern.

While your site may look great now, that could change. In a few years, your site might look out of date if you never make any visual changes to the design.

You don't have to spend a ton of time updating the design. However, don't let it sit without any updates for too long, or you could lose visitors.

How to Design a Website: In Review

Knowing how to design a website is an excellent skill to have. If you're new to the whole thing, you should consider a few steps.

Start with a goal and a budget, and consider hiring help. Then, you can select the best website builder and host, and you can choose a domain. After that, you just need to create and optimize the content to help attract visitors.

Related articles: How Literally Anyone Can Make an eCommerce Business by Themself

This article was written in cooperation with Adcore