How to Design a Website: A Step-By-Step Guide

Designing a website for your business used to require extensive training and trial and error to get right. Fortunately, today’s technology makes it possible for just about anyone to design a website. Depending on what platform you use, you can even design your own website for free.

But if you don’t know how to design a website, getting started can be difficult. The following guide will show you the basics of web page design. Use these nine steps to help design your business website and ensure it stands out.

Recommended: GoDaddy is our website builder of choice, be sure to get started with a free trial.


How to Design Your Website

Today’s website builders give you the tools you need to craft an online presence, one that fits your unique requirements and helps you achieve your goals. Revenue generation, promotion, community building — whatever you want to accomplish with a website, the right design is a necessity.

Follow these steps to create the perfect website for you and your business:

  1. Define Your Website’s Purpose
  2. Research Web Design Trends
  3. Choose the Best Website Builder
  4. Choose a Website Template
  5. Design and Brand Your Website
  6. Experiment with Positioning
  7. Implement Website SEO
  8. Preview and Publish Your Website
  9. Review Analytics and Apply Updates

Step 1: Define Your Website’s Purpose

A website can be many things, but no single website can be all things. In other words, your website needs focus to be effective. You need an end goal in mind to structure your web design.

Before you ever start building a website, it’s important to decide what you are trying to accomplish and how you want to accomplish that goal. You’ve probably at least considered what your content strategy is going to be and identified what sets you apart, your unique selling point (USP). You know what your industry is, now you need to get more specific.

Is your site there to provide information, to sell a product, or to sign people up for something? Each of these goals is different and requires a different approach. For example, if you want to design an ecommerce website, you need a landing page tailored to specific users to convert leads.

Once you know your purpose and general strategy, it’s time to move on to the next step.

If you’re still struggling to get to know the purpose of your website, check out our helpful How to Find the Purpose of Your Website article.

Step 2: Research Web Design Trends

Some web design trends come and go quickly, while others stick around for a while (maybe forever). When you start researching, remember that you don’t have to discover the next hottest trend, or create it, to have a good website. Instead, try to focus on learning about how websites in your industry are designed. Find sites that you love — and that are successful — and use them for inspiration.  

You might notice that some sites are more interactive, while others are more basic. For example, some sites have micro-interactions, like clicking a smiley face to show you “like” something. Depending on your industry, you might find such interactions charming or annoying.

Other sites will include virtual customer service representatives. These chatbots ask visitors questions, like “How can I help you?” When the visitor types in a question, the bot attempts to answer it. Many industries utilizing such bots to take site visitors further down the sales funnel swear by them. Other websites may not consider virtual customer service a good fit for their design, though. Again, it depends on your priorities and  goals.

How to design a website example.

A good website design platform will give you plenty of advice about design trends and options.

Want to see some great examples of good web design? Check out these GoDaddy Website Examples.

Step 3: Choose the Best Website Builder

Even professional web designers take advantage of website builders. It’s much faster to drag blocks on a page to create your basic design than to do it all from scratch. You should feel free to use all the tech at your fingertips to build the best website for your needs. That process starts with choosing a website builder.

There are numerous website builders out there. Some are very basic while others are complex and versatile. We have researched many of the web design platforms available and found that some may be better suited for you depending on the type of website you wish to create. 

Check out our Best Website Builder Review article for a rundown of the top website platforms, pros, cons, features, and more.

Step 4: Choose a Website Template

Choosing a website template is one of the first things you will do when you start using a website builder. Also known as themes, templates are the basic structure and visual appearance of your website. Depending on which platform you use, you can customize templates to make them more like you want them. But it’s important to choose a template that gives you most of the look you want from the start.

WordPress is known for its countless templates — referred to as themes.

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Typically, templates are categorized based on industry. Different industries have different needs from their websites. Industry-specific templates should include features that pertain to each industry. For example, templates for retailers will often include ecommerce compatibility to make online sales.

The great thing about templates is that you can preview them before use. So, take the time to look over any templates that interest you and see what they include. Get a feel for each template and decide which makes the most sense for your website.

Take a peek at some of the best WordPress themes around, read our Best WordPress Themes review.

Step 5: Design and Brand Your Website

Branding is a big topic and one worth learning more about. For our purpose here, it’s important to emphasize that your website is part of your brand. It helps define and support your branding and ethos. As you design your site, make sure that it does those things and does them well.

Your brand likely uses several different design fundamentals, including font, color, and imagery. These elements are also used in your website design. Each is important in telling your story and inspiring specific feelings in your target market.

Choose an Industry-Appropriate Font

A quick look at font options will show you how many different ways you can present a letter. There are so many fonts out there that choosing one can be overwhelming. Ideally, you have already picked a font for your brand. But if you haven’t, now is the time to do so — because your website design definitely needs a font.

Fonts inspire feelings in those that read them. Classic fonts are clean, clear, and straight to the point. They are great for more refined businesses. Helvetica, for instance, is always a good professional choice.

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However, if your brand is more relaxed, edgy, or unique, you might go with something more adventurous.

Add Your Brand Colors

You have plenty of color options to choose from as well. Color is a big deal — it can increase the recognition of your brand substantially. Again, you need to choose your color or colors based on what you want your target market to feel.

There are different theories on colors and the way they make us feel. If you are unsure about what color to go with, it could be useful to read more about color psychology and where it fits with your marketing plan. Your website builder might even have suggestions. Just keep in mind that how colors make people feel is often subjective. If your gut tells you to go with a color, it might be right.

It’s usually best to stick to three colors at most — one dominant and one or two other colors for emphasis. Anything more can be distracting.

Add Professional Quality Images

Images are an important part of good web design. Information that includes imagery is much easier for humans to remember. Images are also just nice to see on a website. They make it more exciting and enjoyable to use.

The images you use should add to the site design, not overtake it or distract from it. Think about your favorite websites and pay attention to how they use images. There is no shame in copying  a good design.

Remember that there is such a thing as too many images. While they may look amazing, too many images will slow down your site. If your page takes too long to load, research shows that visitors are likely to click away in frustration.

Step 6: Experiment with Positioning

Every website is a work in progress. The most important part is getting started, so don’t get stuck in this stage of the process. But, you do need to begin experimenting with refining your site from the get-go because you will be doing it regularly. The first way that you can refine your site and improve your results is by experimenting with the structure of your website.

Positioning is where you place objects on your webpage. There are some common positions that most websites use that are worth copying — unless you want to break the mold. For example, the majority of sites present content in the shape of an “F”.

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Research has shown that site visitors tend to scan the page in a roughly “F” shaped pattern — hence the focus on positioning in that shape. They will do a short scan of the top of the page, then scan left to right a little longer in the section below, then a little longer than that in the section below that.

Most sites position menus along the top because that’s where visitors are likely to look first. Then come images because they tend to excite visitors, and then the written content is displayed.

Be sure to check out this article to learn more about structuring an engaging web page for your business website.

Step 7: Implement Website SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to rank better on search engines. You want search engines to put your site in front of people, so it’s vital that you do the things those search engines want you to do.

Optimization is another big subject that every website designer should research and try to stay up to date on. The best SEO practices tend to be the same year after year — although the algorithms are changing constantly. But basic things like metadata, linking, and keywords so far have remained important to the search engines. Getting these things right can do a lot to increase your visibility to search engine users.

All successful websites focus on optimization and make it an ongoing priority.

Learn more about what you can do to improve search engine optimization on your website by checking out our SEO 101 guide

Step 8: Preview and Publish Your Website

Every good web designer verifies that their site works before going live. That’s why all web builders have a preview mode. You can ask others, like your friends and family, to check out the site and play around with it. If they find something wrong, you can fix it before publishing the site.

During the preview stage, check the following:

  • Spelling and layout of content
  • Links
  • Layout on different platforms, including mobile
  • Loading speed (all pages should load in five seconds or less)
  • No page is more than three clicks from your home page

Once you are certain that everything is working correctly, publish your website and let the world enjoy your work.

Step 9: Review Analytics and Apply Updates

Whatever platform you use to build and host your site, you should have the ability to analyze its performance. If you don’t have built-in analytics, you can use Google Analytics to track activity on your website.

How to design a website example.

Analytics can tell you things like your bounce rate, page views, the time users spend on each page, and your conversion rate if you are selling things. Information like this tells you where you can improve and where you're succeeding. Take that information and make changes to get closer to your goal.

You don’t have to constantly look over analytics and tweak your site. However, you also don’t want to leave it for a year and hope for the best. Try to check it at least once a month and make adjustments. Doing so is well worth your time.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of what it takes to design a great website, it’s time to begin building one. Be sure to check out our Best Website Builder Review to select the builder that will work best for you. Or, if you're ready to get started now, be sure to check out our recommended builder: GoDaddy.

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