How to Design a Website: Step-by-Step Guide from Idea to Launch

by

May 13, 2024

Domain & Hosting 12 min read

How to Design a Website: A Step-by-Step Guide from Idea to Launch

Your website is your brand's DNA. Your images, graphics, illustrations, videos, and visuals hold the power to make or break your website. Every word, phrase, and sentence you add can motivate customers to hit the subscribe or buy button.

In short, your website can engage potential customers and keep existing customers coming back for more. However, designing a website is a systematic process—it should not be treated as an afterthought.

Use this guide as a primer on how to design a website from scratch. We have listed useful examples, tips, and strategies to help you hit the ground running. Let's go!

Why Design a Website At All?

Did you know that 1.88 billion websites were added between 1991 and 2021?

Source

The real question is: What makes websites so popular? Let's see what the data tells us:

  • Shopping experience: Ecommerce websites are shaping online experiences like never before. Customers go online to check the brand's website before they step into the physical store—that is the standard norm today. This is why Google tops the list as one of the most visited websites in the world, with 175 billion monthly visits as of 2023:

Source

  • Great first impression: A well-designed website helps brands create a positive impression in the customer's eyes and builds brand image. On the visitor's side, an aesthetic website looks professional and feels intuitive to use.
  • Stellar user experience: Strategic design sets great websites apart from good ones. It allows brands to keep graphic elements that appeal to the customer at the forefront.
  • Effective lead nurturing: The website doubles up as a way to convert - and nurture -your bottom-of-the-funnel leads.
  • Synced brand identity: The website brings consistency to your branding process by way of cohesive colors, fonts, images, and so on.

Essential Components for Website Design

Preparing to design your website? Here is what you will need to get started.

Start by ensuring you have a drag-and-drop website builder, a domain registrar, and a web hosting platform if your chosen builder does not include hosting that is.

Additionally, you will want to get an SSL certificate to protect your site data, set up a point-of-sale (POS) system for payments, and leverage a search engine optimization (SEO) tool to boost visibility.

Here is a breakdown of these:

  • Web hosting: It provides the physical space to store all your website's content online - from text and files to images and databases.
  • Domain name: Your domain name is your web address. It is the name visitors see in the search bar. So, choose a name that reflects your brand and register it with a domain registrar or your hosting provider.
  • SSL certificate: Your website will likely deal with sensitive customer data. Securing this said is essential. This is where an SSL certificate helps, it encrypts data transmitted between your website and its visitors, and prevents instances of theft.
  • Website builder: Use a website builder to create your site without coding. Spend time looking for templates and customizable features and design your site to your liking.
  • SEO tool: Invest in an SEO tool and develop an SEO strategy from the get-go. This way, you will be able to rank higher within search engine results from day one.
  • Point of sale: If your website involves selling products or services, you will need to integrate a POS system to process payments securely.

Having these components ready will enable you to design the website without hiccups along the way.

How to Design a Website From Scratch in 11 Easy Steps?

There are around 1.09 billion websites globally, of which 82% are inactive. Clearly, when it comes to website designing, maintenance, and upkeep are equally important. If you want to learn how to do website design, you have come to the right place.

Below is a step-by-step lowdown of how to design a website from scratch:

Step 1: What is your website's "why"?

Your website's purpose lays the foundation for how useful it will be. For example, Vitable is an Australian-based vitamin supplements brand that focuses on selling personalized vitamin kits.

The beauty of this brand is its website, which takes its key USP—personalization—to the next level:

Source

Take a look at the "Take the quiz" section as a CTA and on the top-left corner. Both elements catch the visitor's attention. The brand also highlights customer ratings on the homepage to gain customer trust.

This is a great example of website designing with a purpose. To narrow your website's purpose, use these tips:

  • Define what you want from your website—do you want more leads, better sales, more growth, greater downloads, higher engagement, etc.
  • Learn about your ideal audience base—what are their likes and dislikes, pain points and preferences, habits and behaviors, and so on
  • Use these inputs to inform your content marketing strategy, aesthetic theme, layout, and page navigation

Step 2: Get your hands on a website builder.

Want to design your own website but do not have the requisite coding skills? Vodien offers a robust web builder with a drag-and-drop editor and hundreds of ready-to-use templates to bring your vision to life. More importantly, these templates are mobile-friendly.

Think of the web builder as a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) website design tool that can help you design any type of website — ecommerce, portfolio, blog, and so on.

For instance, say you want to create an ecommerce website. Vodien's web builder will help you build your store, set up payment options, manage orders, and cross-sell to marketplaces - all through one platform.

Plus, you can edit and publish your website straight from your mobile device. This on-the-go functionality allows you to add photos, text, videos, and so on.

Pro tip: With Vodien, you get domain registration and hosting services, too. Go with a web design service provider who offers hosting and domain registration services as well. This way, you will be able to handle all aspects of website development with a single service provider.

Step 3: Brainstorm - What are your brand elements?

The most important step in website design goes beyond choosing complementary colors. To bring your brand together, you need to include all elements of your brand's identity—from logo and font to typography and images.

For a lesson in website designing, Asana's website is worth looking into:

Source

The brand's logo and images are conceptually in sync. The font used across the website is consistent, reinforcing the brand's identity with every word. Plus, Asana's use of whitespace effectively separates important elements and creates a clean, organized layout. It guides the eye and helps navigate the site more intuitively.

Perhaps the most important takeaway for you is: When designing your website, think of who you are as a brand. The team at Asana underwent redesigning with all eyes open. Here is how they approached the redesigning process. The first they asked was:

"If Asana were a person, how would you describe them?"

This helped the team come up with four brand attributes:

Source

Defining your brand's identity by making parallels with human characteristics, values, and beliefs is a genius move.

Pro tip: When conceptualizing your brand's identity, get members from different teams such as product, customer service, sales, marketing, design, and engineering to align on the qualities you want to convey. Every time you create a new design, ask: "Does this convey our primary attributes and who we are as a brand?"

Step 4: Choose the right fonts and typography.

The written word has a lot of power to wow visitors — but only if you choose the right font and typography.

For instance, Oatside is a fun and youngish brand with a quirky, customized font:

Source

This font style accurately reflects the brand's personality and helps create a unique identity that sets it apart from competitors.

When choosing fonts:

  • Factor in your brand's personality and target audience profile
  • Reassess the message you want to convey
  • Make sure to pair fonts that complement each other
  • Select fonts that are easy to read across devices

Here is your cheat sheet of useful fonts:

  • Serif Fonts: Classic and traditional, these fonts are great for conveying reliability and trustworthiness. Examples include Times New Roman, Georgia, and Garamond.
  • Sans-Serif Fonts: Sans-serif fonts are modern and clean and help convey a sense of simplicity and efficiency. Common examples include Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri.
  • Script Fonts: Script fonts are known for their elegance and sophistication. They demonstrate a sense of luxury and creativity. Examples include Brush Script, Lucida Calligraphy, and Pacifico.
  • Display Fonts: Bold and attention-grabbing, display fonts are ideal for headlines and logos. Examples include Impact, Cooper Black, and Playbill.
  • Monospaced Fonts: In this, each letter and character takes up the same amount of horizontal space, making them ideal for coding and creating a clean, organized look. Examples include Courier, Consolas, and Monaco.

Step 5: Go as visual as possible if your product allows.

Nothing holds the visitor's attention like high-quality, premium visuals. If you have a celebrity brand ambassador on board, get them onto your website's homepage like Goop does:

Source

And, if you do not have the budget, use relevant and high-quality images to let your product/service do the talking:

Source

As tempting as it may sound, do not use your smartphone to take product images. Do a photoshoot with professional lighting — it can be the difference between a stellar and a poor user experience.

Step 6: Choose a theme or template.

If you are a beginner, go for pre-designed templates or themes to make the design process simpler. But what is a theme?

Templates or themes define the layout of your website. You can have a variety of themes to choose from, each with its own design, layout, and functionality.

Take a look at Headspace's website layout, which uses the hamburger menu to get the visitor's attention:

Source

The best part about themes is that you can customize them to your unique needs. Most website builders categorize their themes within categories. These categories offer a slew of built-in features relevant to the parent category, so choose the right category to start with.

In addition, here are a few more points to remember when selecting a template:

  • Look for responsive themes. These themes adjust to different screen sizes and make your website look good on smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc.
  • Prioritize themes that are easy to customize so that you can add your branding, colors, images, illustrations, etc., in one click
  • Choose themes that offer plenty of support and documentation should you run into any issues
  • Select themes that are SEO-friendly to boost your website's visibility in search engine results and help potential customers find you easily
  • Consider themes that offer a variety of page layouts and templates to break the monotony and add a fresh look to every page
  • Check the theme's reviews and ratings to give you an idea of whether it is worth investing in

Step 7: Create a site map.

You have got all your elements together. To make it easier to track and visualize these elements, create a site map.

This is what Harvard Business Review's site map looks like:

Source

A site map is central to understanding how each page will be categorized and linked to each other on your website. It also helps you organize and structure your website while ensuring all pages are easily accessible to visitors.

Below are useful best practices to keep in mind when creating your site map:

  • Start with the Homepage at the top of your site map as it is the main entry point to your website.
  • Organize related pages hierarchically for easier navigation
  • Ensure consistent navigation menus across all pages of your site
  • Include all important pages such as About Us, Contact, Services, Blog, and Products
  • Organize your site map based on how users will navigate through your site
  • Keep your site map simple, avoiding unnecessary pages and complex navigation
  • Use visual tools like diagrams and flowcharts to create your site map
  • Review and revise your site map as needed

Step 8: Work on your site elements.

We have discussed the main elements, but there are other elements to consider, namely your menu (aka site navigation), header, footer, search bar, and any additional elements you want.

Here are a few strategies to nail your site elements:

  • Menu: Make sure your website's menu is easy to find on every page to prevent overwhelming visitors with too many sub-items.
  • Header and Footer: The header should include important features like the menu and your logo for quick access. Monday.com's header is clutter-free and easy on the eyes:

Source

The website's footer includes links to the brand's social media handles, app store, terms, and policy, and so on:

Source

  • Search Bar: Place a search bar where it is easy to spot on every page, signifying it with a magnifying glass or a box. Also, remember that the top-left or top-right corner usually works best in terms of placement, as Zara demonstrates below:

Source

Step 9: Customize your web pages for a unique flavor.

Each page of your website should align with your site's purpose. More importantly, your product page should not be the same as the homepage. The idea is to add slight variations to each page, depending on the content and visuals you use.

You can have n number of pages on your site, but make sure to include these without fail:

  • Home Page: Think of your website's home page as the main landing spot. Here, you will want to summarize what you offer and include your logo, business name, and a clear navigation menu for easy browsing. In terms of aesthetics, your home page should be organized and visually appealing.
  • Product/Service Page: Here, you want to describe your offerings and provide a way for visitors to make a purchase. Ecommerce product pages should have highly visible CTA buttons, great imagery, and a crisp description of the product in question. You can add customer testimonials to get customer buy-in.
  • About Page: This page allows you to flex your creative muscle both content-wise and visually. Introduce yourself in an interesting way as My Kitsch showcases below:

Source

Use this page to share your story and values, talk about the founder, and explain what sets you apart from other brands.

  • Blog Page: If you are using blogging for content marketing, you must create a page showcasing snippets of your blog posts. Melanin Haircare has an exceptional blog page which highlights trending topics:

Source

  • Contact Page: Add a contact page with relevant information such as phone, email, and social media. You can also add a live chat widget and a contact form, as Lululemon demonstrates below:

Source

  • Custom 404 Page: On the off chance that a customer lands on a page that no longer exists, do not leave them high and dry. Instead, redirect visitors to a custom error page with personalized content, possible next steps, and a link to the homepage. Marvel's custom 404 error page is a great example of 404 pages done right:

Source

  • FAQs Page: If you can, answer common questions customers ask and provide visitors with helpful information quickly. For example, Airbnb has a dedicated page to answer questions in the format of guides, articles, how-to blogs, and more:

Source

  • Testimonials: Finally, show off positive reviews and awards collected over the years to build trust with potential customers and gain goodwill from existing ones.

Step 10: Test, launch, and iterate your website.

Before launching your site, make sure to:

  • Test its loading time
  • Assess its content readability
  • Recheck all the links to ensure they are working
  • Analyze mobile responsiveness

Pro tip: You must also check the contact form, live chat, etc., to see everything's in order and will not affect user experience poorly. As a thumb rule, conduct internal testing and gather feedback from family, team members, and friends on the design. If everything looks good, go ahead and publish!

Step 11: Do not forget about your website.

As the months roll on, the excitement of maintaining your website can die down. But do not make the mistake of forgetting to review your site routinely.

Gather insights into your site's performance from visitors every quarter. Research current trends, examine your competition's activities, and make changes to your website to keep it fresh and engaging.

You must also consider these additional points:

  • Regularly update your content to keep it relevant and valuable to your audience. Create a social media calendar and align it to your blog posts. You must also engage in internal linking and back linking to get more organic traffic to your site and establish credibility.
  • Test your website on mobile to assess its responsiveness. Optimize all your media files, such as videos and images, to ensure your site loads quickly.
  • Monitor your site's security and update it with relevant certifications.
  • Test your website's functionality to ensure all features are working correctly. You can install third-party plug-ins like SEO plug-ins to boost your site's functionality.

Make Website Designing Fun and Effortless with Vodien

As a business owner, you might have wondered, "How do you design a website?" at some point or another.

At first glance, website design seems straightforward. But you do not need to overwhelm yourself with something as skills-based and time-intensive as website design. While you can use a constellation of DIY tools to create a website from scratch, getting professionals on board is a smarter choice.

Consider Vodien's web design services. We can help you set up a professional, mobile-ready website within five business days! All you need is a vision, and we will take care of the rest. Our team of expert website designers can help build an intuitive and beautiful website within your budget and deadline.

Whether you want visitors to make a purchase, sign up, or subscribe, our strategic web design services deliver on all accounts. We will make sure your website is clutter-free, seamless, and a joy to browse through. Connect with the team to know more.

Skip to section