How to Create Your Website Like a Designer

Create Your Website Like A Designer

Part 1

Today I’m sharing Part 1 of my website design process. Inside the next two posts are invaluable guidelines and questions to ask yourself as you begin your website design process.

Not to worry, I won’t go into the technical details of building a website but I will take you inside the planning stages that I take as a professional web designer when designing a website.

computer graphic

Are you ready to get started?

There seems to be an abundance of DIY website builders available and I think it gives the impression that building a great website is easy. You may have tried it or maybe you are working on yours right now.

The beginning of any great website starts with a lot of planning, strategy, and knowledge to create a website that works and WOWs. But if a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ website builder is the path you have chosen, I have some great tips to help you organize your thoughts and your website so you can achieve the best results on your own.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

― Benjamin Franklin
download checklist for website needs

If you’re like me, a good checklist is a necessity.

Sign up below to download it today!

Tip 1:  Be Clear On What Your Website Needs To Do.

The clearer you are about what you need out of your website and any functionality it should have, the easier time you’ll have choosing your website design platform and planning the site flow.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin:
  1. Do you want to sell products or services or BOTH on the site?  
  2. Do you need an online scheduler?
  3. Will you be offering opt-ins now or in the future?
  4. Will you need to display a portfolio?
  5. Are you going to blog?
  6. Do you have an established logo, brand colors, and/or imagery that needs to be used in the new design?

As you can see, a great website design doesn’t start by choosing a template, deciding on your color scheme, or sourcing the perfect images. But these will fall into place later – once the legwork has been done 😉

Tip 2:  Clearly Define The Purpose of Your Website.

Tips 1 & 2 may sound the same but trust me they are very different and necessary. Defining your website’s purpose will help you decide what content will need to be on your website to make it impactful.

There are three important questions to ask yourself before you start designing your website:

1. How should your audience feel when they visit your site?
  • Are you trying to inspire them?
  • Teach them, empower them, pique their curiosity? And why?
2. What do they need to know about your business?
  • Location?
  • How much do your services cost?
  • What’s included in the service?
  • Who is the product or service for? Not for?
3. What would you like them to do on your website?
  • Make a purchase?
  • Make an appointment?
  • Visit your store?
  • Sign up for your mailing list?
  • Download a freebie or coupon?  AND – how will you guide them to take that action?

Knowing the answers to these questions will assist you (or your designer) in deciding on the visual elements your website needs to incorporate.

Tip 3:  Brainstorm Your Site Flow

I know, I know some people think they can just wing it. But I promise if you take the time to think out your users’ path on your site, they will appreciate it, have a better experience, find what they are looking for, stay longer, and come back again.

Confusing navigation will make your users click away to your competitors’ websites.

Create A Great Experience

To create a great experience for your user, you’ll need to create the path (navigation) you want them to take on your website. This path structure is referred to as a ‘sitemap’. You can do this on a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, or I personally like to do my first round sketches on good old-fashioned paper (extra-large)!  After a rough draft is finalized, then I will go back and make it fancy in my design software to present.

Create A Prelim Sitemap

This is your preliminary sitemap. It will help you plan out the hierarchy of the pages you want to include on your site and visually display how the pages will flow to one another.

site map of website planning

Example Sitemap

I’m sure you’ve been on a website that no matter what you did, you couldn’t find the info you came were looking to find. Did you stay long? No, probably not.

If your site is confusing, you will lose your visitors quickly. People come to your website for answers, if they can’t find them easily they will click away to your competitor.

A well-thought site structure will create a great user experience and give you better chances to rank higher in search engines.

Tip 4:  Compile, Gather, Research Your Website Copy

Once you establish your website navigation, you can write the copy for each page separately. 

Step 1. Compile your copy

Write down anything that you think potential clients want to know about your business, products/ services. But remember too much information is overwhelming – keep it simple. 

Step 2. Gather your photography

  • Gather photos of your products, yourself, and any other imagery you want to include on your website.
  • I recommend the use of your own professional photography. At the very minimum, a professional, approachable headshot. Users make assumptions about you based on your headshot.

Step 3. Research design trends

Take note of how other sites function for inspiration. Any navigation, CTA, links, or pop-up features you want to include. Keep a running list of the small details you’d like to include.

Step 4. Inspiration collection

Research your competitors’ websites to see the key messages used on their websites and how the information has been presented. You can use this to inspire you to put together something better to stand out from your competition. No copying, just inspiration!

I will let you get started on this today. That was a lot! But when you know the right questions to ask yourself, the website you create will display your business authority without having to say a word.

Please comment below if this content has helped you, I love to know 🙂

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “How to create a website like a designer” next week! Sign up to receive updates and you never miss a new blog post from SDS.

Believe me, I get it! You run a small business and some days it feels like you have a never-ending to-do list and you definitely wear more hats than you E-V-E-R expected!

If you’re reading this post and your head is beginning to swim — Let me help you organize a plan to create a website that works to convert your customers into clients.

Contact me to see if we are a good fit. Then I can help you create a custom website to reach your business goals and you can cross off one big to-do on that list!