How to Design a Great Website in 6 Steps | Beginners Guide
If you are considering a new website, it is really important to involve an experienced website designer or developer in the early stages. The website is the storefront of your business and I bet you want to make sure it looks amazing and accurately reflects your brand image.
Learn about 6 steps on how to design a great website tailored to your business goals and what to do after you launched your site.
Table of contents:
- What should a website do for my business
- Steps to design a great website
- The basics of successful website development
- What are the different types of websites
- Difference between an agency vs freelancer
- What's included in the web design process
- Tips for higher Google ranking
- FAQ about great website design
What should a website do for my business?
There are several things that a website can do for your business:
A) Create an online presence
B) Drive traffic to your site
C) Provide information about products/services
D) Allow online purchase of items or services
E) Attract new customers
F) Convert leads into customers
In order to achieve these goals, it is important to have a website that is well-designed and easy to navigate. A great website will help you to build your brand, establish trust with potential and current customers, and ultimately boost sales.
How do I know if I need a new website?
If you're not seeing the results you want in terms of website traffic, enquiry or sales, it may be time to invest in a new site. The easiest way to analyse your site is to run Google analytics or check your website with tools like GTmetrix, Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and Semrush.
Also, a good way to determine whether you need a new website is to ask yourself and your friends and family the following simple questions:
- Is the website generating results?
- Is my website easy to navigate/use?
- Does my website look professional?
- Is my website outdated or poorly designed?
- Is there significant traffic and sales difference between my website and my competitors'?
- Is my website responsive (able to be viewed on mobile devices, tablets and laptops)?
- Do I have any online presence?
6 Steps to design a great website
Nowadays we are overwhelmed by the number of websites on the internet and so it's very important to start with a new website that is going to perform well and achieve the results that you are looking for. Follow the below steps to create a great website and you will be one step closer to success in the online world.
1. Budget and time frame
Let's start with the most important part of any website development - the budget.
- How much are you willing to spend on your website?
- Do you have a time frame in mind?
- How soon do you need the website completed?
- What other expenses are there in addition to the design and development cost?
These questions will determine the scale and scope of your project. It's important to be realistic about what you can afford as a bad website will cost you more in the long run. What it means is, that in the best-case scenario you will have to redesign it in 6-12 months but in the worst-case scenario, you won't generate leads or sales and waste time as well as money.
UK web agency price:
- Standard website: £299 - £499/page
- Bespoke website: £499 - £599/page
- eCommerce website: £399 - £599/page
UK freelance designer price:
- Standard website: £199 - £399/page
- Bespoke website: £299 - £499/page
- eCommerce website: £199 - £399/page
The price will largely differ depending on the size of the company, their overheads and how much experience they have. Also, if your web designer is from a different country the cost of the website will be lower as the cost of living is often cheaper.
But bear in mind that communication may be more difficult and paying less doesn't necessarily mean you will get a website that has been researched and optimized for your target market which is key in web design. Last but not least, apart from web design costs, you will have to take into account other expenses too like domain name, hosting fees, maintenance and digital marketing.
Web Development timeline:
- One page site: 1 week
- Standard 5 - 10 pages: 3 - 4 weeks
- eCommerce store: 2 - 8 weeks [depends how much customization and products you have]
If you truly want to make a difference and don't want to fall into the trap of other business websites that have built a site and then let it languish, set aside an extra 20% to 30% of your web design budget for 2 - 4 months of digital marketing including OffPage SEO and Ad campaigns.
2. Website goals
Before you begin the designing process, make sure you have a purpose - business plan - not necessarily written but at least in your head.
Ask yourself these questions before you would reach out to a web design agency or a freelancer:
- What are my business goals and objectives?
- Who is my target audience?
- Do I want to generate leads, sales or create brand awareness?
- Is it going to be a blog page, eCommerce store or informational site?
- What are my competitors doing?
- Do I have any branding guidelines and information/materials ready?
- Do I already have a domain name and hosting?
Tips to approach your business plan:
A) Think about who you want to reach with your website. Your target audience will affect the design, tone, and even the structure of your website. It is important to have a good understanding of who you want to target before you would start the design process.
B) The next step is to determine what you want your website to achieve. Do you want to use it primarily for selling products or services? Are you looking to generate leads? Or do you simply want to raise awareness for your brand? Once you have a good understanding of what your goals are, you can start looking for a web developer.
C) Spend some time looking at your competition. What are they doing well? What could they improve on? How can you make your website stand out from the rest? Having a clear understanding of what your competitors are doing will help you make better decisions during the design process.
D) Finally, if you have gathered any information - competitor websites, screenshots, branding materials like logos, colours, fonts, etc. - then put them in a folder and forward it to the selected web designers to give them a better understanding of what you are looking for. It will help them to create a more accurate quote and reduces the discovery and the research phase.
Do some research and put together a document with examples of websites [optional] you like. If there are specific elements that you particularly like, take screenshots or make notes to help explain what you are looking for. This will give the web designer a much better idea of your vision and helps them to give you an accurate quote.
3. Select the web designer
Finding the right web designer or website developer who will design and build your website is one of the most important steps in the web design process. It's important to take your time with this decision as it will have a big impact on the success of your website.
A good designer team can help you with not just web design but branding, content strategy, user experience, and even digital marketing.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a web designer or developer:
- Do they have a good portfolio and reviews?
- Do their designs look professional and modern?
- Do they seem to understand your business goals?
- Have they provided you with a detailed quotation?
- Are they easy to communicate with and responsive to your questions?
- Do they have a good understanding of SEO and digital marketing?
- Do they seem honest and transparent?
- Are they able to offer you support after the website is launched?
A good website designer or web development agency will be open and excited to take your project on, providing you with a detailed quotation and proposal outlining the costs, deliverables and timeline for the project.
Directories for freelancers:
Directories for web companies:
- Google - simply type in "web design agency London" or similar
A good rule of thumb is to never select the cheapest option as you usually get what you pay for in terms of quality and service. Stick to the mid-range options and make sure to read reviews before making your final decision. Also, don't hesitate to reach out to friends and family for guidance.
4. Digital marketing and SEO
In order for your website to be successful, you'll have to invest in digital marketing. Since your website is new on the market it will take some time to rank on Google [1-3 months]. Also, it's very important to understand for any business owner that just because you have a website does not mean that people will automatically find you.
You should market your website and attract visitors, it is why we have recommended putting aside a marketing budget that will help you get on your feet. These include things like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.
Nevertheless, if you have chosen the right website development package and design team then you should have SEO in your website design as standard. This means that your website will be designed with SEO in mind from the very start and will have all the features necessary for a fully optimised site.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). It's a complex and ever-changing field but the basic premise is simple: the higher your website ranks in SERPs, the more likely people are to find it and click it.
- Keyword research:
One of the most important aspects of SEO is keyword research. You need to identify which keywords your target audience is using to find what they're looking for online. Then, you need to incorporate those keywords into your website content, titles, headings, and meta descriptions so that your site appears higher in SERPs for those queries. eg. web design agency London
- Content marketing:
Quality website content is essential for good SEO. Not only does it help attract visitors to your site, but it also helps keep them engaged and encourages them to stick around longer. In order to rank well in SERPs, you need lots of high-quality content that's relevant to your target audience. eg. interactive videos, blog/article
- Link building:
In order for your website to rank higher, you need links from other websites pointing back to yours. This is known as link building, and it's a vital part of any successful SEO campaign. You can achieve this by reaching out to other bloggers and websites in your industry and asking them to link to your content or even feature you as a guest blogger.
- Technical optimization:
The technical aspects of SEO are just as important as the on-page elements. You need to make sure that your website is properly coded and optimized for search engines so that they can crawl and index your pages correctly. You can use a variety of tools and services to help you with this, such as Google Search Console and Moz Pro Tools.
- Local SEO:
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, then local SEO is essential. This refers to optimizing your website for local searches so that people in your area can find you easily. This includes things like claiming your Google My Business listing and optimizing your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) for local search. eg. add your company to directories to increase exposure.
If you have chosen a full-service web design agency for your website development then running a digital marketing campaign should be a piece of cake. If not, you may have to outsource this to a specialist digital marketing agency which will come at an additional cost.
To wrap it all up, SEO is a long-term "organic" strategy and it can take several months to see results while PPC advertising is a more immediate "paid" way to improve your website's visibility in SERPs. So, starting with Google and Social Media Ads is a good way to go as they both have large audiences which in return will increase website traffic.
If you want to succeed and avoid the mistake of the majority of business owners [86%] then begin with Link building and Advertisement at the same time. Spend equally on both for at least 3 months to see the result. Afterwards, analyse and cut down the cost for Advertisement or increase the budget for Link building according to the result.
5. Track website performance
Once your website is up and running, it's crucial to track its performance. It will help you to understand how is your site performing and where it needs to be improved.
The most significant metrics that you should know are:
- How many visitors you're getting?
- Where they're coming from a referral, direct or ads?
- What pages they're interested in?
- What's the average time they're spending on your site?
- Are they bouncing off your site or taking action?
Unfortunately, this step is often overlooked by many business and website owners, but it's essential to understand what's working and what isn't so that you can make the necessary changes. Also, don't forget to monitor your competitors' websites and see what they're doing right or wrong. It will give you some great ideas that you can implement on your own site.
- Google Analytics
- Crazy Egg
Google Analytics and Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google which is easy to set up and use. It will give you all the insights that you need to track your website's performance. Ask your web developer to set it up or DIY.
6. Website maintenance and updates
Last but not least website maintenance, you could regularly update your website with fresh content [blog/article] and send search engine crawlers signals that your website is active. This will help you maintain and improve your rankings in SERPs.
If you're using a website builder like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix you have to make sure all the plugins and themes are up to date while also monitoring your website for any broken links, pages or images. If your site is bespoke and based on CMS web design like Webflow, then you are all set since they take care of all the updates themselves.
Web agency maintenance costs:
- Basic package: £40 - £60/month [analysis, backup and report]
- Standard package: £80 - £125month [basic + 1h Web Designer]
- Premium package: £150 - £250/month [basic + 3h Web Designer]
Website upkeep costs:
- Domain name: £0.99 to £24.99/year
- Web hosting: £30 to £200/year
- SSL certificate: 0 to £300/year
- Email hosting: £30 to £300/year
- Update of sites, images and content by a web designer: £30 to £50/h
As you may see there are upkeep costs and maintenance fees for a good website especially if you want to be effective and attract new customers/clients. The cost will depend on many factors like domain name, hosting, SSL certificate, email hosting, content management system [CMS] and the size of your website. Overall, it's best to have a professional website design and development agency to take care of your website so you can focus on your business.
We made a full circle, which takes me to my last recommendation – don’t try to save money by cutting corners because you're building a storefront for your business which is the first thing customers will see. It is worth spending time and money on making sure it looks good and works well because it will pay off in the long run.
The basics of successful website development
1. Keep it simple
Your website should be easy to navigate and understand. A good rule of thumb is to keep the number of clicks to a minimum. Users should be able to find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. The home page should be an overview of your site and what you offer, with links to the most important pages.
2. Use strong visuals
Images are a powerful way to communicate your message and engage your audience. Use high-quality images of your product, service and business or that are relevant to your content. Avoid using cheap/free stock photos whenever possible, as they can make your site look cheap and unprofessional.
3. Make it responsive
Responsive design is essential for a good user experience. This means that your website will look good and work well on all devices, from desktop computers to mobile phones. A responsive website will also be easy to use and navigate, regardless of the device.
4. Use clear and concise language
The language on your website should be simple and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might not be familiar to your audience. Use active voice and short sentences to make your content easy to read and digest.
5. Focus on the user
Your website should be designed with the user in mind. Everything from the layout to the content should be geared towards providing a good user experience. This means making it easy to navigate, providing helpful and relevant content, and avoiding anything that might frustrate or confuse users.
What are the different types of websites?
There are three main types of websites: static, dynamic and CMS-based.
Static websites are the simplest and most basic type. They are created using HTML and CSS and do not use a database or server-side scripting language. This means that they are not as flexible or easy to update as other types of websites.
However, they are relatively easy to create and can be a good option for small businesses or personal websites.
Dynamic websites use a database to store data, and a server-side scripting language like PHP to generate pages on the fly. This makes them much more flexible than static websites and allows for more complex functionality.
CMS-based websites use a content management system (CMS) like Webflow and WordPress to manage all the content on the site. This makes them very easy to update and manage and means that even non-technical users can create and edit pages without having to learn HTML or CSS.
Difference between an agency vs freelancer
When it comes to web design, there are two main types of professionals you can hire: agencies and freelancers.
An agency is a company that provides a range of services, including web design, web development, digital marketing, and App development. They have a team of designers and developers who will work together to create a website that meets your requirements.
Agencies typically charge a higher price than freelancers, but you can be assured that you’re getting a quality product and service.
A freelancer is an individual who offers their services independently. They typically charge less than agencies, but you may have to deal with multiple people to get the job done. You also run the risk of hiring someone who is not experienced or qualified in web design.
What's included in the web design process?
A good web design process will include the following:
1. Initial consultation
The designer will meet with you to discuss your project and get a better understanding of your needs and requirements. They will also ask about your target audience, competitors and any other information that might be helpful.
2. Website design mock-up
The designer will create a mock-up of your website based on the information gathered in the initial consultation. This will give you a better idea of what the finished website will look like.
You will have the opportunity to make changes and suggestions to the mock-up. The designer will make the changes and send you a revised version for approval.
Once the design is approved, the designer will hand over the files to the developer who will build the website from scratch or using a template.
5. Testing and final approval
The developer will test the website and make any necessary design changes. Once it is approved, it goes live online.
7 Tips for higher Google ranking
1. Optimize your website for search engines
Make sure your website is designed in a way that makes it easy for Google to index your content. Use relevant keywords in your titles and meta tags, and create unique and interesting content that includes those keywords. eg. eCommerce web design, affordable maintenance package etc.
2. Build high-quality backlinks
One of the most important ranking factors for Google is the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website. Make sure your website has plenty of high-quality links from popular and relevant websites.
3. Use social media to your advantage
Social media can be a great way to promote your website and attract new visitors. Make sure you have active social media accounts and that you regularly share links to your website on those accounts. Sign up for all possible channels for backlinks.
4. Make your website mobile-friendly
More and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet, so it’s important to make sure your website is designed for mobile users. Use responsive design and make sure your content is easy to read on a small screen.
5. Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track your website’s traffic and analyse your visitors’ behaviour. Use it to identify which areas of your website are performing well and which need improvement.
6. Stay up to date with Google’s algorithms
Google regularly updates its algorithms, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest changes. Subscribe to a reliable SEO blog or follow an SEO expert on social media to stay informed.
7. Hire an SEO professional
If you want to ensure that your website is optimally designed for search engines, consider hiring an experienced SEO professional. They can help you with all aspects of website optimization, from keyword research to link building. eg. Fit Design
Frequently asked questions - great website design
- How can I make my website stand out?
It depends on your business, your brand, and your target audience. However, some tips on making your website stand out could include using high-quality visuals (including photos, videos, and infographics), incorporating animation and interactive elements, and having well-written and engaging content.
- What are the latest trends of 2023 in website design?
Are expected to include more creative and interactive elements, as well as a focus on mobile-friendly design. Websites will also continue to become more streamlined and minimalist, with a focus on delivering a great user experience.
- What are some common web design mistakes?
- Not using a grid system
- Leaving too much whitespace on the page
- Not using typography to your advantage
- Not using enough contrast
- Not using animation
- What is the difference between a template and a custom website design?
The main difference between a template and a custom website design is that a template is a pre-made website that you can use as-is or customize to fit your needs, while a custom website design is designed specifically for your business and brand.
A custom website design will be more expensive than using a template, but it will be tailored to your specific needs and will look and function better than a template.
- How much should I expect to pay for a custom website design?
The cost of a custom website design will vary depending on the size and complexity of your website, as well as the level of customization required. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from £5,000+ for a custom website design. However, it’s always best to get a quote from a web design company or freelancer before making a final decision.
- How long will it take to complete my website?
It depends on the complexity of your website and the level of customization required. Generally, you can expect to wait anywhere from 4-8 weeks for a custom website design.
- Do I need a domain name and hosting to get started?
No, you don't need a domain name and hosting to get started with your website. Let the website designer or developer know that you don't have a domain name or hosting yet, and they can help you set everything up.
You can purchase a domain name and host from a variety of different providers, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, and SiteGround.
Now that you know a bit more about website design, it's important to consider the different factors that go into making a great website. By using an experienced web designer or developer, you can make sure your website is both visually appealing and effective in driving traffic and sales.
And, by staying up to date with the latest trends and hiring an SEO professional, you can ensure that your website is optimally designed for search engines and your target audience.