Why Do You Need This Website Design Guide?
Designing or redesigning your website can feel out of reach and intimidating. We get it! It doesn’t have to be this way though. Just like most things, it can be easy once you know how. In this guide, we’ll walk through each of the major milestones that lead to a website that serves as the face of your brand, generates traffic, and builds trust with your visitors.
before you get started.
There are quite a few things to consider before you begin designing your website. Here is a short list of some essential things you need to know.
Define the main purpose of your website. Your new design will be built around achieving those goals.
If you have a site already, make a list of the things you think it does really well (likes) and places it could improve (dislikes).
3. Missing Pieces
What’s missing from your current site? Make a list of what you’d like to add, i.e, e-commerce, event calendars, etc.
4. Most Viewed Content
Take a careful look at your website analytics before beginning a redesign. This can ensure you know what content on your page is generating the most traction. You’ll want to make sure this content aligns with your goals, and that the content getting the most views is in a place that’s easy for visitors to access.
Have a well defined budget heading into the redesign process. This helps you set achievable goals and avoid the disappointment of feeling forced to settle.
6. First Impression
Everything speaks. What do you want your website to say the moment a viewer lands on it? Your website should quickly and effectively communicate your brand and what it offers to visitors. If you creat a successful first impression, visitors will stay longer and engage more deeply.
7. Target Audience
Who is your target audience? Do you need to reach people you aren’t currently engaging? Create an ideal buyer and keep them in mind while making design decisions.
Evaluate your current branding. Does it communicate your purpose? Is it in line with your primary and secondary goals? Does it speak fluently to each audience you plan to target? Before launching your redesign it is important to have a brand identity that you see carrying your business into the future.
9. Get Inspiration
Identify a few other brands/websites you admire and consider what makes them special. Think about how you can use what they do well to make your brand shine and add value.
10. Technical Capabilities
Consider how your website will be maintained post-launch. Who has the capabilities to manage your site? Will you need to hire an external agency to manage it?
web design budget.
Two factors will determine the price of your website. First, who you’re hiring to build it (website agency, freelancer, or yourself) and second, what functionalities your website needs to have. You can determine which category you fall in based on the functionalities you need.
$0 - $300/mo – DIY Builder Website
There are many options when it comes to DIY website builders. You can build your own informational site, blog, or ecommerce site. Niche builder-like systems are also coming out that can help you build web applications on your own too.
However, you should be aware that there are downsides to taking this route. It may be the most attractive from a budget standpoint, but it can leave even the most digitally-inclined shaking their laptops or pulling their hair out. So, be sure to consider the value of your time, as well as potential freelancer help, when budgeting for this option.
$2,000 - $6,500 – Standard Website
This type of website will help your organization establish a strong online presence. These websites are simple and clean. They get the basic job done by providing information about your services and general contact information. They can be created by hiring a freelance web developer or an agency.
$7,500 - $50,000+ – Custom Website
A custom website will establish your brand’s online presence in a way that is unique to you. The price range in this category varies widely because it depends on what functionalities you want and how elaborate design is.
Also, a lot of attention will be given to strategy and goal setting to ensure that your website actively works to generate leads and establish your brand through things like: professionally-crafted website content, lead-capturing forms, web hierarchy optimization, etc.
$7,500 - $50,000+ – Ecommerce Website
Ecommerce websites act as an online storefront, and therefore, are in their own category. A well-executed ecommerce site will have an easy checkout process, a secure payment processing system, a great site structure and design, transactional emails, and more.
$30,000 - $100,000+ – Full-Featured Web Application
Full-featured web applications are developed around products and services that need a unique web-based platform for users to access. Plus, these apps also have APIs that allow other systems to access the centralized information source. The possibilities of a web application are endless, so the pricing varies for custom web applications.
additional costs to consider.
Here are some essential things you want to be sure to save room for in your budget.
A domain name is what your users will type into their browser to access your website. You will need to purchase your domain and renew it.
You will also need a location for your website to be stored in the “cloud” so people can access it when they type in your URL. Like domain registration, it’s a recurring expense, typically annually or monthly. It is important to consider uptime and backups when choosing a website host.
Pro Tip: Your hosting company should perform nightly backups that are stored on redundant hard drives to help reduce the risk of data loss in case of hard drive failure. Ask if they do this before making a decision.
An SSL certificate increases your website security and protects your users’ confidential information by establishing an encrypted connection between your customer’s computer and your website.
If you don’t have any content for your website (and don’t know where to start), then you’ll need to factor the cost of content creation into your web design budget. You will also want to consider budgeting for an ongoing content strategy after you launch your site to help increase your reach and establish a reputable online presence for your business.
When an agency provides you a quote, make sure they are accounting for the cost of testing your site and training you on how to update your website. If not, you’ll want to get these priced accordingly.
Optimizing your website for search engines helps your business get noticed by more people. However, in-depth SEO may be an additional cost with your agency. You may want to consider and budget for an ongoing SEO strategy for your website post-launch.
Responsive websites are becoming more necessary in today’s environment. However, some agencies may tack on an additional charge to make your site mobile-friendly.
Don’t forget that technology is always on the move, so your website will need to be updated and maintained regularly to protect you and your visitors from malware, breaches, and spam.
To make sure that your website is meeting your business’ goals, like generating leads or closing sales, you will want to invest in marketing your website. This means developing strategies for email marketing, social media, and content marketing.
choosing an agency.
While it's a good thing for an agency to have a portfolio of beautifully designed websites, there’s more to choosing the right company. The agency you choose is going to be a partner in the success of your business. Like with most big decisions, there are a number of factors to consider. We’ve compiled a list below:
1. Give me Freedom! (To Edit)
It can be a pain to have to rely on an agency every time you want to make a small change to the website. Check out whether or not the agency includes training on how to edit your site in the contract.
2. Retain Ownership.
Make sure that you have the rights to your website design and code so you can freely make changes down the road. You’ll also be able to pull any design elements to use for other print marketing materials to keep your branding consistent.
3. Know Who Does the Work.
Some agencies outsource a significant portion of the web design. While this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, it probably will be an inconvenience. You typically want an agency that has experts in web design and development on staff to ensure that work is being done effectively. On top of that, outsourcing can draw out your timeline and add another variable in the process that you don’t have control over.
4. Look at the Portfolio.
The best indicator of future performance is past performance. Take a look at the type of work an agency has completed in the past. Is it similar to what you are asking them to do? Check on previous client satisfaction, with special attention given to how well the agency stuck to the timeline and budget. You want to work with an agency that has proven results.
5. Have a Plan to Convert Leads.
Does the agency you are considering have a strategy that will convert more leads for your business? We certainly hope so! One of the main reasons to redesign a website is to convert more leads and drive sales. If your agency isn’t thinking through how the new design will achieve that, they probably aren’t the one for you.
6. Use Analytics to Define Goals.
Make sure that the agency you are considering is planning to take a look at the analytics on your current website in conjunction with your organization’s goals. If they aren’t planning to do that research, then they aren’t really planning to create a solution customized to your needs. Don’t settle for cookie cutter!
7. Limit Downtime.
Creating a seamless transition between your old and new sites will prevent most potential negative user experiences during your redesign. Experienced agencies can launch a website with no downtime, so if you are receiving a forecast of significant downtime, that may signal a lack of technical expertise.
8. Know the Competition.
Make sure that your potential agency is prepared to be familiar with your company, competitors, and industry. If they aren’t already, this will require some significant research. Without that specific knowledge, they’ll have a hard time identifying inefficiencies in the market that your website can capitalize on in order to outperform the competition.
9. Analytical Tracking.
It’s essential that you are tracking your website's analytics so that you can see how it’s performing. Make sure that your web company can handle setting this up properly for you.
10. Know the Deal.
This goes for any business you start a partnership with, but be sure to ask about your contract details such as their cancellation policy, payment schedule, and terms. No one wants to enter into a partnership blindly and have problems in the future.
11. avoid the RFP.
Overall, RFPs are often better avoided if you can swing it. They can limit what your web design agency is capable of providing you and take up a lot of your valuable time creating it. In the event that it is out of your hands and your organization requires you to create one, check out our blog post that makes sure you make the most of it.
selecting a website platform.
First off, what is a website platform? Simply put, it is the foundation of your website. It is the system that you or your team will use to maintain your website over time. Different platforms have different capabilities, so it is important to consider your goals and pick a platform that allows you to meet and manage them with ease.
While you go through the process of researching and selecting a platform, we’ve developed a list of the most important points you’ll want to consider.
Consider how many people you want to have the capability to manage the website. If it’s more than one, you’ll want to avoid the many platforms that are built on a “one-person” content management system. Ex. Wix and SquareSpace
If you bring an external agency on you will have more viable platforms to choose from. However, keep in mind that this will be an additional cost and that you will need to choose an agency that is able to attend to your website maintenance needs in a timely manner.
If you decide to manage the website internally, do an honest evaluation of your team’s technical capability. If your team has many strengths, but technological fluency isn’t necessarily one of them, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by choosing a platform with a large, complex content management system like Joomla or Drupal.
Consider whether or not you need to have the ability to accept online payments and sell directly through your website.
If you want your website to generate a large number of leads, it’s wise to have a platform that supports having forms throughout the site that allow users to enter their contact information.
Not all platforms have a convenient way to facilitate event registration. If the capability to do so is important to you, find out whether each platform is able to integrate with external online event registration systems.
Some businesses can benefit from automating repetitive weekly, monthly, or quarterly tasks. If this is something that would interest you, check on whether your platform makes this simple.
If you want drag and drop capabilities without having to create them yourself, you may want to try out platforms like: WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. Each of these have drag and drop website builders that make this more accessible.
Your budget may not allow you to incorporate every functionality you’d like your website to have all from day one. In that case, you can launch your website in phases. You might start with a low-cost, more basic platform and then upgrade later to add features when you have room in the budget.
A great step to take while determining a budget for your website platform is to make a list of your goals for the site. For example, If your primary goal is to add ecommerce capabilities, then you will need to budget for and select a solution which allows you to do that. If you can’t find a solution that supports your primary goal within your current budget, then you’ll have to decide whether to adjust your goals or your budget. Something’s gotta give! It’s better to find this out on the early end rather than when you’re knee deep in a redesign.
Choosing the right platform for your organization’s website gives you a strong foundation to build on. It doesn’t need to be intimidating, it just needs to be intentional. If you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to selecting the right fit for you!
planning your website content.
We all want to be able to find what we’re looking for quickly and easily when we visit a website. It can be a huge headache to encounter a website while searching for a solution and believe we’ve found the right place, only to realize that it’s a nightmare navigating the information.
The redesign process is the perfect time to evaluate your content structure to decide what to keep, what to add, and how to present it in an engaging and value-driving layout. Take a good look at the content you currently have to determine what can be repurposed, where you may have gaps in coverage, and what needs to go. This is called performing a content audit.
You can also build a sitemap to make this a little bit easier. A sitemap is basically a fancy way of saying that you have a clean and clear layout that represents how your website should be structured. The guiding principle to remember when building your sitemap is ease of use. You want your audience to be able to quickly and easily find the content relevant to them.
Identifying your Keywords.
Incorporating keywords and phrases into your content ensures that it’s easy for people to find you when they are searching online. When a consumer starts researching their problem, or looking for solutions, keywords and phrases will make your content one of the first things they see.
Research is an undervalued piece of identifying your keywords. It’s easy to forget that while you are extremely familiar with your own industry, the average “searcher” probably isn’t. They don’t always gravitate towards the search terms that professionals would choose. Make sure that you do some digging to identify what terms people are actually using to look for products/services like yours on search engines like Google.
Establishing an ongoing content strategy.
After you decide on what content you want on your website pages, you’ll want to establish a plan for creating more content in the future. An ongoing content strategy will generate relevant material for your website visitors on a regular basis, which keeps them coming back for more engagement and more conversions!
Here are some tips for establishing an ongoing content strategy:
- Set goals for your content.
- Brainstorm blog topics that your target audience will find interesting.
- Create a plan for how often you’ll publish new content.
- Map out your content tree.
- Use curated content to fill gaps and add value.
Establishing an ongoing content strategy takes a lot of intentional, creative thought, but the juice is worth the squeeze on this one. A great content strategy will help your website deliver the best possible experience.
preparing for liftoff.
Launching a website is exciting, but it can also be stressful. There are a lot of factors that go into a successful launch, so it's helpful to go down a checklist and double-check everything. Here's a list of what to check before you launch your website.
Check for Multi-browser and Device Compatibility.
Not all browsers will display a website the same way, so it's essential to test your site for compatibility on different ones. If you are launching a redesign of your old site, take a look at your analytics tools to see which browsers your visitors use most frequently.
It's essential to account for how your site will look not only on desktops, but on tablets and different types of mobile devices. Use Google's Test My Site tool to make sure your site is compatible on multiple devices.
Put Some Flair on Your 404 page.
One way or another, a user will find a way to land on a page that doesn't exist on your website. Plan for a way to lead them back on track. Create a custom, user-friendly 404 page so that in the event of a broken link, users don't leave the site without engaging with your content.
Set Up Analytics tools.
How else will you be able to tell if your new website is hitting the goals you want to achieve with it? Be sure to have at least one analytics tool set up prior to launching. We recommend Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Google Search Console. You can read more about those three tools here.
Polish Off Meta information.
Be sure to include a meta description on each of your webpages so that users who find your website through search engines know what the page is about. A good meta description is within 160 characters and persuades the user to click through. Use your key phrases in your meta description!
After you have checked everything from this list, get sign-off from key management and prepare to launch! Remember that on launch day you'll need all hands on deck in case you come across any bumps along the road.
Your organization's website is an important investment, so hopefully this guide provided you with insight on everything you need to consider before you embark on your web design journey. Want to make sure you keep track of everything during your website redesign process? Download our template that will guide through every step of the journey!