How do you design a website?
Every business needs a website. Even businesses for whom online sales are not part of their business model should have an online presence. Increasingly, businesses without a website find themselves losing out. Unless you have generations of customer loyalty behind you, an immaculate local reputation and are perhaps nearing retirement, your business cannot afford to go without some kind of website.
Creating a decent website has never been easier and with professional support even the website of a small business can look as good and be as easy to navigate as one belonging to a global brand.
Here we’ll take a look at exactly why you need a website and what it takes to create one.
Why does your business need a website?
The online presence of your business can have a huge impact on its success, whatever industry you happen to operate in. Even if you’re not selling directly online, customers will visit your website before visiting your business or contacting you for a quote. While the quality of your website does matter, whether or not you have a website will perhaps make more of a difference.
So, why is a website so important?
It establishes your credibility
An up to date website is one of the principle means by which potential customers reassure themselves that your business is legitimate. They may only take a cursory look but that will be enough to give them the information they need. Without a website people may wonder if your business is genuine or even if it’s still trading.
It strengthens and supports your brand
One of the main means by which you can define, support and strengthen your brand is through your website. Through your website you can establish who you are, what you do and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Make it easy for people to contact you
Your website makes it easier for people to contact you. Whether that’s through providing contact details, or an easy to use contact form, this makes it simpler for people to get in touch which in turn makes them more likely to do so.
A well-designed website with attention paid to SEO will mean you generate organic traffic. This means that more people discover your business, helping it to grow.
Your website will play a key role in your digital marketing strategy. By using your website to showcase your services, as a place to display your news and updates and by intelligent use of SEO and interlinking content on your website with your social media channels, you have a powerful set of tools to get your message across.
How long does it take to design a website?
A basic, DIY website can be up and running within a few days, but if you’re running a serious business that’s unlikely to be of an adequate standard. Building a serious bespoke website from the ground up takes time. A proper commercial website project with a realistic budget will have a timeline of weeks and months.
Typical website developers will take a four-step approach to create a website of which design will be a key aspect:
Stage 1: Discovery
The development team will begin by getting to know more about your business. They will find out your story, why you set up the business, the products or services you provide and your target market. They will take time to consider customer demographics as well as your competition. Any analytic and market research data you have will be useful at this point.
They will want to find out what role you expect your website to play, and any problems you need it to solve. They will ask pertinent questions and get a feel for what your business is all about before moving on to the next stage.
Stage 2: Design
The discovery stage will be used to create a plan for the website before the development team moves on to the design stage. Firstly, plans will be turned into mock-ups. A responsive layout will be created, fonts and typography will be decided upon as part of a broader style guide. The interface elements and the design of key pages will begin to be explored. This will ultimately lead to workable mock-ups that meet all the requirements of the plan.
Stage 3: Development
This is where your site goes from plans to the basic design for a working website with all the relevant features in place. This is when any teething problems are identified and rectified, and as the business owner, you will have considerable input.
Does the website look as you imagined and is it working as you hoped that it would? This stage needs to be taken carefully as it’s when any problems will be found. Some of them can be difficult to locate, so your website will be used in a real-world context, perhaps with people who haven’t been involved in its development checking how well it operates.
Stage 4: The final review and launch
Before your website is launched it will need to go through a final round of reviews. This can add another week or two to the time it takes to create a website, but it’s important to get it right if you’re not to spend time and money rectifying any problems.
Experience suggests that changes will nearly always need to be made. This isn’t an indication that the development team isn’t up to scratch, instead, it’s a reflection of the complexity involved and the need to ensure that everything works as it should. More often than not the changes will be aimed at ensuring your website is as user-friendly as possible.
When the final review is complete, it will then be time to launch your website. What this detailed development process highlights is just how carefully a professional development team takes the task. Overall you should be looking at several weeks to two or three months for your website to be launched. You’ll also need to consider the availability of your chosen development team. You may have to wait a while to secure the services of an in-demand team.
What should you consider when designing a website?
To help ensure that your website meets your requirements there are a number of issues to consider. These include:
What is its purpose?
Will you use your website to sell products directly or is it a shop window for a brick and mortar store? Are you showcasing your services and positive reviews? Perhaps it’s primarily going to be used as a place to share news and information? The purpose will play a key role in determining what your completed website looks like and the functions it fulfils.
Do you already have an established brand or will you use your website to create one? If you already have strong brand ideas these will be reflected in your website and will in many ways make the developer’s job much easier. This will impact how your website looks through features such as imagery, the fonts you use and the tone of voice in the content.
If you’re using your website to create your brand then this gives you an excellent opportunity to think a little deeper about your branding and a professional web development team will help you do that during the discovery stage.
Design, layout and usability
How your website looks, the layout you choose and how usable it is for visitors are all interconnected. What actions are you hoping that your visitors will take? Is it to make a purchase or get in touch? Perhaps you’re wanting people to sign up to something or get the information they need.
Increasingly, people are accessing the internet on their mobile devices so you need to consider how your website will work on smartphones and tablets. A good web development team will, of course, bear that in mind when they’re working on your design.
What makes good web design?
Good web design focuses firmly on the end-user and their overall experience:
What sort of experience do visitors to your website have when they visit your website and what are their priorities? How should it leave them feeling? Ideally, you want them to feel reassured, inspired and confident enough to make a purchase or seek out further information. How will your web design achieve that?
Easy to navigate
As part of a positive user experience, your website should be easy to navigate. Visitors shouldn’t have to struggle to find what they’re looking for. Good navigation is key to successful web design.
Your website should be easy to access on mobile devices. Today, most people access the internet via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you will be missing out. Making your website mobile-friendly will also impact how it performs in Google rankings.
Another factor when it comes to Google rankings is the speed of your website. Your design shouldn’t slow down the overall performance of the site, so thought has to be given to how different elements will feature.
What makes poor web design?
While there are a small number of factors that go into making a good website design, there is a myriad of ways that a website can fail. Some of the more obvious ones to avoid are:
Too much clutter
Your website contains too much information and design features that are poorly laid out and designed. This has the result of making your site difficult for your visitors to make sense of.
Lack of consistency
If your website lacks design and tone of voice consistency it can be difficult for visitors to make sense of. It will send mixed messages about who you are and what you offer.
Branding is something that happens whether we pay much attention to it or not. Even if you don’t give much thought to branding, your website will still communicate a set of brand values. It’s much better to think proactively about your branding and what you want your website to communicate rather than to allow other people to reach their own, possibly negative, conclusions.
One of the biggest turn-offs for website visitors is navigation that’s difficult to use. If people can’t find their way around your website they’re unlikely to stop long.
What are common website design mistakes that you need to avoid?
Website design mistakes tend to occur due to a lack of proper preparation and consideration. Many first time website creators launch too quickly into building the website before carrying out a proper development process. As a result, issues such as accessibility, mobile-friendliness, navigation and content get forgotten.
To avoid significant mistakes you should ensure you spend plenty of time thinking through what you want to achieve with your website, what it will look like and how the technical functions of the website will meet your intended goals.
Why you should choose a professional website design agency
A professional website design agency can save you time and stress and ensure that the finished product lives up to expectations. They know the ropes, understand what questions to ask to get the answers they need and are skilled at translating ideas into tangible actions. They will have a team of skilled professionals with different talents and expertise, all of whom will work together to create something that reflects the best industry practices.
With all that in mind, why wouldn’t you use professional services when you want to create a website for your business?
At Dawn Creative, we have the creative talent, the technical expertise and a proven track record at creating brilliant, user-friendly websites for our clients.
If you’re considering creating a new website for your business or updating your existing one, we’d love to hear from you.
Get in touch today to talk to our expert team.