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Design a Website

This page explains how to design a website. More specifically, it explains the various options that are available to you when designing a website. Designing your own website is the first step to creating your website. By following the steps below, you will be able to design and create your own website easily.

To design a website, you usually need to have a bit of a "design knack". In other words, you should be a reasonably good designer. You should know what looks good and what doesn't. Many "non-designers" have attempted to design their own website, only for it to look "ugly" to most of its viewers. Often the "non-designer" was completely oblivious to this!

But... even "non-designers" can create a professional looking website if they know a few basic tricks.

Options for Designing a Website

Fortunately, you don't need to be an experienced web designer in order to create your own website. In fact, before building your website, you can choose exactly how much of the design you will be responsible for.

Below are some of your options when deciding how to design your website:

  • Online website builder. This option - from our partner site - is perfect if you need a website immediately, but you don't have the time or inclination to design it from scratch. An online website builder allows you to choose your preferred design from a range of website designs. Plus, some website builders enable you to change the design later - without losing your content.

  • Website templates. A great way to learn how to design a website is to use a template. A website template is a pre-built website that you can use (and modify as you wish). Most website templates are "downloadable", which means that you can download them to your own computer, then open them up to see how they've been designed and constructed.

  • Outsource your design (use a design team to design your website). If you have a clear "vision" in mind, but you just don't have the skills (or time) to bring the design to fruition, using a design team or web developer could be for you. Working with a design team can be extremely rewarding, as you will receive a unique website that is designed to your specific needs.

    If you think you might need the services of a web design team, here are some of our design partners:

    • ZappyHost Design Team
      Includes website design, hosting, monthly updates, email accounts, and more. This is a complete all-in-one service for a set monthly rate.
    • Inverse Logic web design
      Mainly just website design, but they also have a "Full Service Package" that includes hosting, domain name, etc.
    • 99Designs
      Web design with a twist. You host a "design contest" where dozens of web designers submit their design concepts. You choose the winning design.
  • Design your own website. Perhaps you're already a designer in some field or you just have an eye for good design. If this sounds like you then you'll probably want to design your own website.

    Designing your own website can be very time consuming, but it can also be the most rewarding of these options. There's nothing like the feeling of having visitors all over the world seeing the design that you worked so hard on!

    In my experience, the most time consuming part of designing a website is actually deciding when to stop! It is so tempting to keep making small changes, until you realize that you've been through dozens of "improved" designs, only to find that your first design was the best!

    The actual design process needs to start with an idea. Once you have an idea of what you want your website to look like, you can put it down on paper. Yes, you can use real paper, or you can use a graphics program such as GIMP.

    Even if you use real paper to plot your design, you should then re-create it using your graphics program (such as GIMP). This will form the basis of creating the actual website.

    Once you've re-created your website in your graphics program, you will be in a position to create the actual website. You can do this the old fashioned way using HTML or you can use a program such as CoffeeCup.

About Usability

When many novices attempt to design a website, they focus mainly on the "look" of the site. The "visual design". While the visual design is an important part of web design, it shouldn't be the sole focus of the web designer.

When you design a website, you should pay attention to the usability of the site. Usability simply refers to how easy your website is to use. If a website is not usable, nobody will want to hang around to use it.

For maximum usability, try to avoid using gimicky type elements on your website. For example, avoid using non-standard navigational items, and try to use a language that your visitors will understand - especially when it comes to navigation.

Usability extends far beyond navigation though, so I encourage you to learn more about website usability. Here's a 25 point website usability checklist to get you started. And here's a great article about the top 10 mistakes in web design.

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