The Ultimate Guide to Website Design: A Step-By-Step Approach

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Website design plays a critical role in your online presence!

It doesn’t matter what industry you operate in or who your ideal customer is – every modern business needs a website.

Whether it provides basic information about the business with a contact page and opening hours or offers a full end-to-end online shop experience complete with landing pages and review forms, a website is a crucial touchpoint for businesses.

With that said, how do you go about designing a website that increases visibility of your business and supports the customer journey?

We’re going to answer this and more questions like this, in this blog.

Why Does Your Business Need a Website?

Before we dive into the website design process, it’s important to first consider the customer journey and what you want and need your website to deliver/achieve.

If your business is local and you don’t want to support or offer online sales, then your website should be geared around discovery and enticing customers to come and visit you.

If your business is entirely e-commerce, then your website should be designed to drive sales and keep the customer on the website for as long as possible.

Knowing why your business needs a website is the first step in creating a design to support the ideal end goal. So, consider this a sign to take a step away from this blog and create a list of goals that you want your website to achieve.

Step 1: Who is Going to Build Your Website?

The first step is more of a question, and it revolves around your in-house skillset.

While there are hosting websites that offer self-build tools to budding business owners and entrepreneurs, if you want to create a fully personalised website that can be tailored according to your customers’ needs and made to reflect your business vision, the best place to start is with a blank canvas domain name.

This may be something that you can achieve using in-house resources and skills, or it may be something that you need to outsource to a web design company.

Bear in mind here that outsourced companies are specialists in these kinds of projects and offer access to not just the underlying web design and build skills, but the experience and knowledge that comes from working across multiple other projects. These companies have seen what works and can integrate that experience into the creation of your site.  

Step 2: Lay the Foundations of Your Site

This includes choosing a hosting provider and securing a domain name. The domain name is a particularly crucial part of the website design process, as while not overly visual it will control the first impression that website visitors get when they arrive on your site. Your domain name is also intrinsically linked with SEO success and how discoverable your site is to prospective users and customers.

Step 3: Create a Template

This is where it becomes important to really know and understand your customers and the kind of experience or journey that they are looking for.

The template for your site will help you to outline where each content block will sit and make it easy to add and update content blocks in the future – following the pattern and layout of the template.

That’s why, when it comes to website design and building, we recommend creating the template and layout before populating it with any actual content. You want to create a structure that works and presents a balanced on-screen experience regardless of what the content is and looks like.

Step 4: Decide on Your Menu and Pages

As part of the template, you need to consider the pages that your site needs in order to deliver a cohesive and interactive end-to-end experience for visitors.

Classic webpages like a Homepage, About page, and Contact page are no-brainers. But on top of that, you need to consider if you need Product pages or Service pages if you want to have a page dedicated to Reviews or Case Studies, and if there are any other pages that you think website visitors would look for on your site.

If you’re creating a full-blown e-commerce site, then this is also the stage of the process where you will need to integrate a payment system. Performing adequate research will help you find the best payment system for your business, offering full security to every customer.

TOP TIP: It’s important that the website menu itself reflects your brand vision while also facilitating an easy user journey. So often we see brands and businesses adding their own spin to menus and navigation terms, only to find that their customers/clients get lost and confused. Keep it cohesive with your brand, while maximising simplicity at the same time.

Step 5: Populate Your Site

Once you’re happy with the overall layout, it’s time to populate your site with all the content that makes it an authentic reflection of your brand or business.

Whether you choose to keep it simple and informative or build interactive content on your site, the content will make or break your SEO strategy and conversion or engagement rate – so don’t hesitate to work with professional copywriters and designers if you need help in bringing this to life.

The Role of Website Maintenance

Once your site is live, the work isn’t over – it’s just beginning.

Website maintenance isn’t just about ensuring your site is up to date with relevant news and information for customers. It is also about ensuring that every button and every page is in excellent working order – preventing Google from penalising the user experience and giving customers and website visitors a seamless journey.

The website design process never really ends, with new ideas and innovative tools constantly being rolled out to help improve website design and make business pages more interactive, engaging, and successful.

If you’re considering a new website and need help or support with the design and build process, the Mitchell & Stones team have got your back. We work with businesses across all industries, to deliver websites which are as compelling as they are informative. 

Get in touch today!

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