You’re obviously aware you need a website and you are probably reading this as a result of one, or a combination, of the following reasons:
- You’re starting up your business and you need to create a website
- To keep costs down, you want to know how to make a website yourself
- You already have a website but you’re not happy with the web design and want to give it a go yourself
- You’re a budding freelance web designer and you want to improve your skills
Whichever the reason, you want an attractive website. You have an idea in your head of how you want to the site to look but getting it on to the screen is not just difficult it’s down right frustrating. Even drawing it on paper can be a challenge.
Our skilled web designers here at Prototype Creative have created countless responsive websites from scratch. Using their expertise, we have put together a checklist that will get your ideas out of your head and in front of your eyes.
How to make a website
1. Ask yourself the right questions
Before you design the look or the capabilities of your website, you need to think about your goals and your audience.
- Ask yourself, will your customers be able to use the website?
- How will you get the right content on to your site?
- Where will you include call to actions?
- How effective is your sales funnel?
- Will people get confused and distracted when trying to make a purchase?
- Is it providing the best user experience?
- How will you track web traffic?
Build your initial layouts with these in mind. The best way to make your own website is with targeted foundations. Use the answers to these questions as your foundations to prevent building your website with missing capabilities.
2. Do your research
Although you have answered these questions and you have a list of website features, you might be missing some that you didn’t even know existed.
Take time to look at other company’s websites. Start by looking at market leading competitor websites and see what features they include in their sites. Do you need to include these and are they useful to your customers? Then look at some big brands and make notes how they have designed their sites to create a good user experience.
We’re not saying copy these features and layouts. The last thing you want is a website that doesn’t stand out or showcase your brand. Use these features and layouts to strengthen your foundations and build an easy to use website.
3. Map it out on paper
Once you’ve have created your foundations, it’s much easier to map out the website layout.
Sometimes, you can’t beat the old fashioned ways. Starting with a well-sharpened pencil, start drawing out how you want your landing pages to look, where you want your menus and widgets, how you want images to be displayed, and where you want call to actions and buttons.
Here you really need to play about to see what fits and goes well with you overall design. If you already have some brand guidelines then consider these. After all, your website is a piece of marketing material that needs to be inline with your brand. If you haven’t got brand guidelines, experiment with different fonts and sizes.
Once you’ve found one that your happy with, use it throughout your website and limit yourself to one or two styles. Create your brand guidelines, which stipulates the font and the size for its use. For example, Headings – Open Sans Bold – 40px, Body - Open Sans Regular – 16px.
Consider the hierarchy of your text. The important nits of information should be more eye-catching than less important bits. This can be done through font size, font weight or eve position. Think about how your eyes move around the page to position them in the best place.
5. Colour scheme
Like with the typography, this stage is much easier if you already have brand guidelines. You should use the hex references listed. These begin with a #. As printers create colours from 4 coloured inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and monitors use 3 LED lights (red, green and blue), a CYMK colour will not look the same on screen as it does on paper.
If you don’t have a colour guideline there’s no need to worry. In fact this is a great way to create a colour scheme for your brand.
Now you’ve picked your colours, what do you do with them? Experiment.
Use the colours you have selected in different variations. Try making a list of your favourite variations and conduct some market research. Implement the highest scoring variation and be consistent throughout the website. You want your visitors to familiarise themselves with your brand. Fonts and colours make a brand – a brand is not just a logo.
6. Guide traffic
Think hard about the journey you want your visitors to take. From landing on your homepage to after making a purchase, you need to direct them through each stage. Refer back to your website layout you designed which highlights the best positioning for content and buttons. But most of all think about your sales funnel and how you're going to inform, create a want and influence conversions.
You don’t’ have to develop a content strategy that will win awards. Although, we do advise that you do implement a well thought out content marketing strategy. But you do have to think about how you want content to appear. Make sure that each page contains SEO friendly content and is a positive part of your sales funnel.
8. Picking the right web builder
Now that you have everything set out it's time to bring it all together. But first you need to select the right way to build your website. You don’t want to have nearly finished building your site to find that the web builder you have selected doesn’t have a main feature you want on your site.
If you know how to build a good website from HTML then this, in our opinion, is the best. However, if you don’t know how to build a website from HTML then choosing an off-the-shelf web builder is the way to go.
There are plenty of web builders, which all specialise in different areas; some ecommerce, and some for creating blogs.
9. Build. Test. Amend. Repeat.
Once built, you should constantly be looking for ways to improve the usability of your site.
Testing the user friendliness and sales funnels is essential to improving your website, increasing visits and search engine rankings. Go back to the beginning and ask yourself the same questions.
Amend the way your website engages and interacts with your customers. Make the process more streamline and keep them coming back for more.
- Ask and answer questions about how your website will help your customers and how it will meet your business goals.
- Research successful websites for inspiration and incorporate relevant features into your website.
- Draw your website with pencil and paper before dedicating any time to building your site, refer to these blueprints throughout the development stage.
- Choose your typography and colour scheme and experiment with these to get the best variations. Remember to think about your brand.
- Direct traffic the way you want, think about your customer journey and the desired end result. Develop engaging content that fulfils your business needs.
- Use the right web builder; if you need ecommerce capabilities use a builder that provides this.
- Once you have built your website test it. There are always improvements to be made. Lots of little changes make a big a difference. Your customers will notice.
Here at Prototype Creative we pride ourselves on creating bespoke websites. Meaning, we can build specific responsive websites centred on your goals. Contact us by filling in the enquiry form to see how we could design your website today.