Web Design Process

Building a Web Presence

Starting from scratch, building a website is overwhelming! An ever changing digital marketplace and the amount of different skills needed to create a website would be daunting without a knowledgable and supportive community. So let me help you get started!

Coreyborg coding through frustration on a couch with custom cloud laptop artwork

Websites in a Nutshell

Creating purposeful content

How to prepare text for your pages:

Start writing as much as you can without deleting anything. Get as much of your story together into a single document as you can. The easiest way to know what pages you'll need is to get everything together, then divide it up. To brainstorm ideas of what to write, start by listing as many related keywords to your idea as you can. You'll need this list later for SEO, so keep it somewhere you can find it.

Goal oriented conversion

It's important to keep in mind a specific goal for what you want people to do once they come to the site. Each page will be designed to give users the information they need in order to make a choice involving your site. Your site should present viewers with the choice you want them to make once they have been well informed. Some common choices for users to make are:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Following on social media
  • Contacting you
What to include in 'Your story'

Make sure to explain why your viewers will benefit from making the choice you want them to make. Describe to them why they will benefit from interacting with your site. For example, you can use this guide to start work on your site by yourself. If you get stuck on any of the steps, you can hire me to push through the most difficult steps!

How to prepare images for your site

Each page on your site will need a mix of pictures and text in order to be enticing. Find photos that help prove the information you are providing your viewers. Start saving them into the same folder where you have prepared text for your pages. Once you've collected many images, it will be easier to pair them with text.

How to design a site layout

Once you have an idea for the amount of content to display and the possible interactions users might make, you should layout your images and text together (either on paper, or in a word document) as a funnel ending in an action you want users to take. For example, the pages on this website always end in a contact form.

Hosting your website

Putting the design onto the web

At this point in the process, you need to transfer the images and text to a place where anybody can see them. They will type yourdomain.com into their web browser (or click a link), and the browser will ask your hosting company's server for the website files you will create.

What you pay hosting companies for

a server is pretty much a computer dedicated (24/7) to sending your website out to other computers. Along with the electricity to run that computer, hosting companies usually offer additional services. Some common tools they offer are:

  • custom website builders
  • a secure way to change your website files
  • registering domains
  • email @yourdomain.com
How to spot freemium traps

It is also possible to do this for free, although you will be severely limited in what you can do. Most of the website builders which have a free option are agressively geared towards you purchasing their full verison. I don't recommend using freemium sites for hosting, because once you've already learned how to use their site to build yours, you are less likely to switch (and more likely to pay more). Given that addendum, here are some free hosting options:

  • wix.com
  • wordpress.com
  • blogger.com
Forwarding and masking

If you choose a free hosting solution but want to use your own custom domain name, you will need to do a process called "forwarding". You can call the support line where you bought the domain name, and they can guide you through this process.

Advertising your website

Inbound marketing

While your users are evaluating whether to make the choice you want them to make on your site, they should be ascertaining value. You will need to keep their attention long enough for them to arrive at your call to action, then offer them a path to supplimentary information, and a secondary value proposition and call to action.

Word of mouth

It may be tempting to rely on spreading your website by talking to people about it. While it is important to notify your community about updates to your services, you can't rely solely on talking about your website to promote it. In fact, one of the main reasons why people make websites is to remove the need to describe your business to one person at a time.

Contribute to online communities

A good way to increase the number of views your website recieves is to find related communities online. For example, I sometimes contribute to reddit.com/r/web-design. People go there to ask for other developers to review their portfolios or profesional sites. You can post your site, or comment on others and ask that they do the same.

Search Engine Optimizaiton

Search engines are constantly scraping through new websites to find relevant content to provide their users. You can use tools, like trends.google.com to find the most commonly searched for terms per region. There are some standard practice methods to becoming more available to search engines, such as:

  • Having other sites link to yours
  • Providing text descriptions of images
  • Logically organizing headings and titles
  • Including meta keywords, descriptions, and instructions
Paid advertising

Many social media sites and search engines offer to show your content more often if you pay them. For example, google ads will let you bid for the top search result. Bids happen every time a user searches for keywords that you designate. You can change your settings to pay more or less, based on how relevant the specific search was to you. You can also set limits on how much you are willing to spend in a day. Facebook has an interesting advertising structure as well, allowing you to pay based on how many times your page is shown or how many times someone actually clicks on your ad.

DIY with a little help

Coreyborg feeling successful

In order for your site to succeed, the web design process can span months and cost thousands of dollars! For that reason, many people decide to try to tackle the task on their own. However, without the proper tools and knowledge of web technologies, your site is not likely to be profitable.