Designing a New Website for Your Business: The Complete Guide
94% of people cited web design as the reason they abandoned or mistrusted a website. There’s a lot of power in first impressions, and most happen on the internet. The trick to converting more site visitors into buyers is to create an effective website, one that is functional, user-friendly, and has an appealing visual aesthetic. In this article, we will go over the essential steps to designing a website for your business.
What Is Web Design?
Web design is the creative and iterative process of creating a website that users can interact with. Several elements go into creating an effective web design:
- Layout: How the information is organized and presented on each page
- Color palette: The colors used for text, backgrounds, and buttons.
- Typography: The font style and size of the text
- Images/Media: Visuals that are used to enhance a website’s user experience
- Copy: The words used on the page to inform and engage the user
- Navigation: How users can easily find their way around and access information
- Branding: How a business’s brand is carried throughout the website
- Functionality: How well the website works for users
When all of these elements come together effectively, they create a cohesive user experience that can attract and convert visitors. The main role of a web designer is to create a website that is tailored to the user’s needs.
How Do Designers Create Effective Websites?
Creating an effective website requires a bit of technical know-how, creative design skills, and the ability to understand user needs. Part of this is psychology, but it is also an iterative process that involves user testing, feedback, and analysis. Here are the key steps in designing an effective website:
1. Research and Planning
Before delving into the depths of design, a designer must set the groundwork. Digging into stakeholders’ needs while researching the target user groups is key in any project.
In a business context, this includes working with partners to develop an online strategy that aligns with the company’s goals, including the website’s purpose, unique value proposition, brand identity, and overall user experience.
Once everyone agrees on the website’s focus, the designer and company stakeholders can begin to conduct user research. This includes studying user behaviors, goals, and requirements for the website. In the early stages, common user research strategies include:
- Surveying existing customers to learn their website needs
- Creating user personas based on target user groups
- Analyzing competitors’ websites to identify areas of improvement
Typically, this stage also involves creating low-fidelity wireframes, which are simple sketches of the website’s structure, layout, and elements. If these mockups are available, user research can involve testing these wireframes on a small group and collecting feedback.
2. Wireframing and Prototyping
Wireframing is the process of quickly creating a basic visual representation of a website’s structure, layout, and content. It involves mapping out the information hierarchy and navigation paths so that it can be tested early on in the development process. This way, designers can make sure their ideas are consistent with user experience (UX) best practices. There are three types of wireframes:
- Low-Fidelity Wireframes: Low-fidelity website mockups are simple sketches of page layouts and navigation paths. They are typically created using paper, but can also be created using simple design software such as Balsamiq.
- Mid-Fidelity Wireframes: These wireframes are more developed than low-fidelity wireframes and often include digitized placeholder content. They are usually created using design software such as Photoshop, Sketch, or Figma.
- High-Fidelity Wireframes: High-fidelity wireframes give the most accurate representation of a website’s final look and feel. They are typically created in design software like Figma or Adobe XD and include placeholders for all images, colors, and typography.
Once the wireframes have been created, designers can create interactive prototypes to test out the user experience of their website. Prototyping tools such as InVision or Figma allow designers to bring their wireframes to life with animations, transitions, and interactivity.
At this stage, the designer can test clickable assets on a small group of users to get feedback and make necessary changes. Once the stakeholders have approved the prototype, it can move on to development.
3. Design and Development
The design phase is where the visual elements of a website come together. During this stage, designers create high-fidelity visuals for each page of the website as well as UI elements such as buttons, forms, and navigation menus.
Since most of these elements have already been tested in the prototyping phase, designers can quickly move forward with creating the visuals. They can also make sure to include details such as brand colors, typography, and imagery that will bring the website closer to completion.
4. Testing and Launching
Once a site is developed, more testing must be done to ensure everything is working properly. This involves testing each page’s performance, usability, and functionality and making sure there are no errors or bugs that could affect user experience.
Testing can involve various methods, including automated tests, manual tests, and user feedback surveys. Once all tests are passed, and website bugs are fixed, the website is ready to go live. Launching the website involves ensuring all the necessary tasks have been completed, such as configuring and setting up hosting environments, submitting sitemaps to search engines, and setting up analytics tracking.
5. Maintenance and Updates
Once a website is live, it needs to be maintained with regular updates. This includes maintaining software, plugins, and any other third-party applications that are integrated into the website. It’s also important to monitor analytics and performance data regularly to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Regularly monitoring user feedback and making necessary changes and improvements is also essential. It helps ensure that the website remains up-to-date with user needs and expectations, providing a smooth, enjoyable experience for users.
Designing Your Business Website: What Are Your Options?
When you’re ready to get your new site designed and developed, you have a few options.
- Creating a website yourself from scratch
- Using a template or website builder
- Hiring a professional designer
Creating Your Site from Scratch
Creating your own website from scratch is the most time-consuming and difficult option, but also allows for the most control. If you’re familiar with web design and development, this is a great way to create exactly what you want. Most business owners choose not to do this because it takes time and expertise.
Using a Template or Website Builder
If you’re looking for something simpler, you can use a website builder like Webflow, which has a drag-and-drop interface for creating websites quickly and easily. You can also use website templates, which come with everything pre-built such as content and images, so you don’t have to start from scratch. This is the most cost-effective solution, but it still requires some technical know-how and manual input.
Hiring a Professional Designer
Most businesses decide to hire a professional designer. This could be a freelancer who works with the company on a contractual basis or an agency like Bizango that specializes in website design and development. Professional designers are experienced in developing websites that are optimized for performance, usability, and visibility on search engines.
Several steps go into creating a functional website for your business. It’s essential to take each one seriously and ensure that the website is properly designed, developed, tested, launched, and maintained. Depending on your needs and budget, you can choose to create it yourself from scratch, use a template or website builder, or hire a professional designer. No matter which route you choose, the end result should be a website that’s optimized for performance and visibility, providing an enjoyable experience for your users.