When the time comes to design and build your website, you’re going to have a lot of different options at your disposal.
For example, you can utilize website builders and content management systems. Or, you can teach yourself to code and build it from the ground up. Many companies choose to hire web design services to ease the process and ensure a professional result.
The approach you take will depend upon your existing skills, the goals for your site, and how involved you want to be throughout the site creation process. If you’re still unsure, that’s fine, by the end of this post you should have a clear idea of which approach is best for you.
Below you’ll learn why you must have a professional website if you want your site to succeed, along with the various approaches you can take to build your site or have one built for you.
Why Web Design Is Important
Your website is your virtual home. If you already have a physical storefront, then your website will be the virtual extension of that store. On the other hand, if you’re starting an exclusively online business, then your website can completely make or break your success.
When a visitor lands on your site, they will immediately begin forming opinions about whether or not your site is trustworthy.
If your website is relevant and professional, then your visitors are not only going to stay on your site for much longer and dig through your site’s content, but they are much more likely to buy from you as well.
We can look at it from the perspective of your visitor. If your site takes forever to load, or has spelling errors, outdated images, and links that don’t work, with an overall design that doesn’t inspire confidence, do you think your visitors will stick around to buy from you? Probably not.
But if your site’s design is clean and intuitive, and packed with quality and useful content that helps your readers, then you can bet they’ll stick around and digest your content. They might even sign up for your email list and eventually buy your products or services.
You only have one chance to make a first impression; don’t waste it with a low-quality website.
Elements of a Well-Designed Website
Luckily, building a professional website isn’t that difficult. But, you need to have certain elements in place.
With your website, your goal is to build credibility and trust, while avoiding any red flags that will have your visitors running for the back button.
Here are the most critical factors that go into a quality and professional site:
1. Clear and Cohesive Branding
Your brand will encompass a lot. It’s everything from your logo, to your font and color choice, to the language you use. You have a lot of micro decisions that’ll add up to a brand that either feels right or ends up being disjointed and confusing.
The best way to a cohesive brand is to keep things simple. By being overly complicated, you run the risk of overwhelming your visitors.
For the sake of clarity keep the elements below in mind:
- Go for a minimalist design with plenty of whitespace
- Choose fonts that pair well together and load fast
- Clearly define what makes you unique from your competition
- Always focus on your visitors and their problems
By always focusing on delivering value and solving your visitor’s problems—on a site that’s easy to use and navigate—they’ll tend to stick by you.
2. High-Quality Content
There’s a lot that goes into quality content. First, your content needs to be relevant to your visitors. It needs to be useful, in-depth, informative, and solve your visitor’s problems. And that’s just talking about your blog posts and content strategy.
Beyond your company and website blog, you need to think about your website’s copy.
Chances are, you’ll have a lot more written content beyond your blog. You’ll need to think about the rest of the copy across your website. Your home page, about page, contact page, and more.
Your website’s copy needs to speak to your visitors. Your goal is to illuminate their problems and showcase your expertise.
3. Intuitive Navigation
When building out a website a lot of users tend to pack too much into their navigation bars. Your navigation bar only needs to link out to a few important pages. With too many navigation options you’re making it incredibly difficult for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.
Here are some navigation menu best practices you’ll want to abide by:
- Place your navigation menu in the expected location–either the upper right-hand corner or underneath your logo at the top of the page.
- Include essential items at the beginning or end of your menu, as these places are where your visitors will pay the most attention.
- Make your navigation menu options descriptive, think things like ‘who we are’ and ‘start here.’
- If possible, avoid using drop-down menus. These menus are annoying and don’t usually function properly across mobile devices.
- Our short term memory can only hold around seven things at once, so make sure your menu doesn’t include more than seven items.
4. About and Contact Info
Once your visitors land on your website and decide to stick around, they’re going to want to learn more about you. If you have a physical storefront that you’re trying to drive traffic to, then make sure you prominently display your phone number and physical location.
If you don’t have an offline business, then you’ll need to make your email address and other contact information easy to find.
Finally, your About Us page needs to do a lot more than list your accomplishments. You need to build an emotional bond with your readers and show them that you’re the best person to solve their problems. When writing your about page, view it through the lens of speaking to your visitors. Do what you can to demonstrate you understand them at a deep level.
5. Social Proof and Trust Factors
There are a lot of ways to build up your likeability and social proof. First, by having a high-quality design, you’ll show your visitors that you can be trusted.
But, you can also build up trust in other ways too. For example, if you have sizable social media followings, you can add these into your site’s design.
Another common way to build up social proof is by showcasing testimonials from past clients, customers, subscribers, or even known figures within your niche. A solid testimonial can go a long way towards convincing new visitors that you know what you’re talking about. Here are a few examples from our own testimonials page at HostGator:
Of course, there’s a lot more that contributes to a quality site, but when you’re just starting out the above factors will go a long way.
6. Intentional Page Creation
Any page that you create should have a specific purpose. When your visitor lands on a page you should be directing them towards a goal.
Trying to do too much with any given page will only lead to confusion and overwhelm. Your goal should be to reduce this feeling in your visitors whenever possible. If you’re creating a page and you realize there’s too much going on, don’t be afraid to split this up into multiple.
The same goes for focusing on a single action you want your visitors to take. For example, do you want your visitors to sign up for your email list, share your post, or just explore more content on your site? When it comes to creating pages, less will always be more.
Website Building Approaches to Take When Designing a High-Quality Website
Now that you know what site elements you’ll need to have in place, it’s time to explore the different routes you can take to build your website.
As you’ll learn below, there are multiple ways to build the perfect site for your business or new project. Your biggest constraints will be your budget and the amount of time you want to devote.
Here are the most common ways you’ll build out your new website:
1. Use a Website Builder
If your goal is to get your website online in the shortest amount of time possible, then you can use a website builder to create a simple website. Website builders give you the advantage of speed and simplicity.
With the Gator website builder, you can quickly build out a site in your niche of choice. All you have to do is select your theme, make customizations with the drag and drop tool, and upload your content.
Plus, all of the themes are professionally designed so you can ensure that your site will be high-quality.
2. Use a Content Management System (CMS)
Content Management Systems (CMS) allow you to build out content-heavy websites with ease. All you have to do is install the CMS on your site (HostGator makes this easy), choose your theme, and start customizing your website.
The most popular CMS is WordPress and will probably be the best option if you decide to take this approach. WordPress will give you a ton of control over the design of your site, while still remaining fairly beginner friendly.
As long as you choose a high-quality WordPress theme, you’ll be giving yourself a head start in the design of your site.
Building out your site with a CMS will be much more time intensive, and there is a steeper learning curve when compared to using a website builder.
3. Build Your Site From Scratch
The most time intensive and challenging way to build your site is teaching yourself how to program and building out your website yourself. This can be a rewarding path, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
As a general overview you’ll have to learn basic programming languages that’ll support you in building a website. Then, you have to use this newfound knowledge to create your site and upload it to your server.
If you’re starting out, then you probably won’t be creating a complex any time soon. But, it’s entirely possible to build a simple website with a couple of pages. Just don’t expect a masterpiece right out of the gate.
4. Hire a Professional
The final option you have is to hire a professional to build out your site for you. By working with an expert, you can guarantee that your website meets all of the requirements above and more.
This approach allows you to focus on your business, or spend time creating excellent content, while a professional design team builds you the site of your dreams.
Here at HostGator, you can take advantage of our professional web design services to create a custom site based upon the WordPress CMS. This allows you to tap into a team of experts to craft you a website that’s professional and will delight your visitors.
Plus, since your custom site is crafted using WordPress, it’ll be easy for you to manage your own site into the future. You’ll save time in getting your website launched, and you’ll enjoy a professional result that will serve your business for many years to come.
Which Route Is Best For You?
By now you should be a little bit more certain about the approach you’re going to take to build your website. Overall, the route you choose depends on how much time you want to devote to building your website and the type of site you’re building.
Generally, the most common approaches are going to be using a website builder, using a CMS like WordPress, or hiring out a team of experts for their web design services.
If you have a small budget, then using a free website builder, or building out a budget site using WordPress are going to be great approaches to take.
But, if you have more to spend on creating your site, then it’s a great idea to hire a team of web design professionals. This will ensure you end up with a high-quality and professional site that turns your visitors into fans, subscribers, and customers.
Hopefully you’re now equipped to either build your site yourself or hire out the creation of your website.