How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success

How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success thumbnail

Designing a website is easier than it has ever been. Long gone are the days of manual coding and restrictive print-based layouts. Today, almost anyone can create a gorgeous, responsive, functional site in minutes — as long as you know where to start.

Fortunately, the basics of website design are relatively easy to understand if you apply some common sense and careful planning. Your goal should always be to create a site that is both visually striking and easy to navigate and use.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to design a website and share six key tips. We’ll also introduce you to WP Website Builder and demonstrate how you can use this tool to create your own website quickly and easily.

How to Design Your Site: 6 Key Tips for Success

1. Plan Your Design Thoroughly

Before you do anything related to website design, you’ll need a concrete and thorough plan. At this stage, you should clearly define your site’s goals and expectations and outline what you hope to accomplish with it.

Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to:

  1. Is the site personal or commercial?
  2. Do you want it to make money, and if so, how?
  3. Will you be using advertisements or affiliate marketing?
  4. How much traffic are you expecting?

Put your thoughts and ideas down on paper and start drawing up a plan. We mean that literally, by the way. A smart method of planning your site is to create sketches of how you want it to look and operate. You should also take everyone’s ideas into account if you’re working with another web designer or collaborator.

By the end of your planning phase, you should have a blueprint of the site’s top-level framework. This includes a plan for its user interface (UI), sidebars, and other page elements, as well as an idea of how navigation will work. Doing this first will make it much easier to bring your vision to life.

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2. Create Your Site’s Visual Identity

Once you’ve got an idea of your website’s structure, it’s time to look at its appearance. You’ll need to choose the fonts and typography you’ll want to use. If you’re working from an established brand identity, consider how your choices match up to offline materials. It’s also worth exploring how well the fonts you choose work with multiple languages and how effectively they scale up and down on differently-sized screens.

You’ll also need to decide on a color scheme. Again, if you’re creating a site based on a brand with an established visual identity, you’ve already done most of the hard work. Otherwise, picking a color scheme requires you to consider color theory and ensure your choices are accessible.

Thinking about the “feel” you want your site to have can make this decision easier. Colors represent different emotions and meanings, after all. For example, red is typically seen as an aggressive and impulsive color, while green is associated with health and the environment. You should take the time to choose your colors carefully since they can help you create a cohesive visual identity.

3. Consider the Layout and Navigation

If you planned ahead as we discussed earlier, this step will be a lot easier. You’ve already considered how navigation will work on your site. It’s now time to dig deeper and think about your website visitor and the journey they’ll take on your site.

The visitor’s journey refers to the possible paths that people can take on your website. In other words, you’ll need to consider how users will access different parts of the site from any given page. After all, you won’t always have control over how users first arrive on your website, so you can’t just rely on a homepage to serve as your hub. Navigation needs to be available across your site, and it has to be accessible and easy-to-use.

You also need to plan out the layout of each page carefully. To do this, ask yourself what each page on your site is trying to achieve. For example, if you want people to fill out a contact form, you’ll need a strong Call-To-Action (CTA) button. Your CTA should always be prominent and clear.

Every element on a page should be designed to promote the overall goal. It’s best to start simple and add elements over time to ensure you aren’t adding unneeded information or features.

4. Pay Attention to the Details

When you’ve completed your website design and layout, it’s time to shrink your scope and focus on the details. These are the seemingly minor things that create the general look and feel of your site, such as buttons, menus, image placements, and so forth. 

Treat each component on your site as a stand-alone object and give it proper attention. This is the kind of precise work that can seem excessive but will significantly help to refine your site overall. Your goal should be to make the final product better than the sum of its parts, and spending appropriate time and effort on those parts is the best strategy.

One way you can make your site “pop” is by adding engaging elements like microinteractions. We’ve previously discussed that these are a popular trend — and for good reason. They help make your site feel more interactive and living since it’s able to respond to the user in small ways.

You should also work on avoiding common mistakes, such as bad font rendering and poor color contrast. These are the kinds of issues that are easy to miss if you don’t get up-close with your site’s individual components. For that reason, make sure you give them the attention they require.

5. Prototype and Share Your Design

Prototyping is an integral part of the design process. A prototype is simply a demo version of your site that you can share with others. It can be presented as images, or you can create a static HTML representation of how each page is meant to look with little-to-no functionality.

Creating a prototype is an excellent way to give others an idea of what the site will look like when it’s done. If you’re working for a client, they will naturally want an overview of your plans and the chance to suggest changes. You should, therefore, show them a prototype early on so they can provide feedback. This will save you time down the line, as they won’t be surprised or displeased with your work when it’s nearing completion.

One thing to remember: site builders make creating a site so quick and easy that you often don’t need a separate prototype. You’ll be able to quickly put together a new idea and solicit feedback from others without creating a demo (more on this later).

6. Challenge Yourself and Be Willing to Experiment

Finally, remember that web design is a creative endeavor, and you should always be willing to challenge yourself. This applies whether you’re creating your first website or your 50th. For example, you can consider new ways of approaching a particular design goal. Maybe you’ll experiment with different color schemes, images, or a more accessible navigation layout.

This step is more critical than it might seem. Not only will it help you grow as a creator, but it will also give you an extra incentive to find new solutions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Giving yourself a challenge in each new project is an excellent way to keep yourself focused and invested in your work.

One smart way to get started is by finding inspiration in recent design trends. You can consider how you can implement those trends yourself or even improve on them.

How to Design a Website Using WP Website Builder

WP Website Builder is a suite of premium tools and plugins built by our friends at BoldGrid. You can use these tools to create gorgeous designs for your website without having to touch a single line of code. Plus, if you sign up for any of our shared or managed WordPress plans, you’ll have access to WP Website Builder at no extra cost!

When you set up a new website with us, you’ll receive an email that includes your WordPress login credentials and some information about how to get started. One of the options at your disposal is to use the WP Website Builder setup wizard.

“The WP Website Builder setup wizard.”

This wizard walks you through choosing a design for your website, setting up basic pages, adding vital information, and accessing the WordPress dashboard. First, let’s choose a “design,” which is a fancy way of saying a WordPress theme.

“Choosing a theme.”

With WP Website Builder, you get access to dozens of starter site designs across 12 different categories. Once you choose the perfect theme for your website, you can select which pages you want to set up from the start.

“The Diced theme.”

Keep in mind that the available pages will vary depending on the theme you choose. If you see a design you like, but it isn’t quite perfect, don’t worry — you will be able to edit it in a moment.

For now, move on to the final step, where we’ll ask you to enter some basic contact and social media information.

"Adding your information.”

WP Website Builder uses this information to set up social media sharing for you. If you don’t want to add this information, that’s okay.

When you’re ready, click on the Finish and Install button. While you wait for the quick-start wizard to set everything up, feel free to go have a cup of coffee.

As soon as your website is ready, you’ll get access to the WordPress dashboard. Before you do anything else, take a look at your home page.

 “A default home pate.”

We’re already off to a great start, but a few pages don’t make a website. At this point, you probably want to make some changes to the theme you chose. To do that, return to the dashboard and open the editor for the page you want to change.

Once you’re in, you’ll notice that we set up a new Post and Page Builder for you, which replaces the default WordPress Block Editor.

“The Post and Page Builder.”

With this feature, editing the design of your pages and posts has never been easier. You can move elements (or blocks) of content around with your mouse, and get access to quick styling settings just by clicking on them:

“Making changes to a page.”

If you want to add new blocks to your pages, all you need to do is click on the Add Block Component button at the top of the screen.

“Adding a new block.”

WP Website Builder includes a broad range of pre-built blocks, including website layout options, media elements, widgets, and more.

“Choosing a block.”

If you scroll to the bottom of the editor, you’ll notice that you also have access to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) recommendations, so you can help users find your new website.

“Optimizing a web page.”

From here on, all that’s left is for you to try out WP Website Builder for yourself. When you combine its theme selection with the drag-and-drop builder, designing a gorgeous website becomes a simple matter.

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Ready to Design Your Site?

Even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life, you can still create a great-looking, functional website. All it takes is understanding the basics of what makes a successful site, and using an intuitive tool like WP Website Builder to put it all into practice. Web design, here you come.

About the Author:

Armed with 10+ years of experience in social (a lifetime in internet years), Ellice is DreamHost's resident social media marketing expert. A native Angeleno, her passions include trivia, bunnies, bowling, and social justice for all.