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How To Design A Website (1 of 5):

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Author: Mark Birkett

Who is this series of articles aimed at?

Dalemedia are always here to offer superb, world-class web design services. However, the following articles assume you've gone one step further and decided to design and publish your own website. And as true 'Web enthusiasts' we're absolutely happy to help.

Are Dalemedia's 'How To' articles kept up-to-date?

Yes. We regularly check the advice we offer, re-writing them where necessary so that they represent the most timely and up-to-date advice possible. If you see any errors, have any questions or have any other feedback to offer us, please do email us at ku.oc.aidemelad@troppus. We'll respond as quickly as we can (and gladly edit out any errors).

Can I obtain all these articles grouped?

Yes. For a small administrative fee, we offer each of our articles as complete PDF downloads. To download them, simply visit the Dalemedia Academy, select the article you want and enter your details. We will then email the PDF to you instantly.

What kind of web design advice are you offering?

We have concentrated here on providing advice for those planning a commercial website. However, the general principles we discuss are relevant to practically any variety of website you may be considering.

What skills do i need to design a website?

To begin with, if you;

... then you're well on the way to success. However, we're also assuming that you have the willingness (and a modicum of patience) to learn some useful new skills and then follow that up with plenty of practice and further research. If you put in the time and effort, in addition to reading this series of articles, you will end up with a website that contributes significantly to your business success and, perhaps just as importantly, offers you a real sense of achievement.

Introduction to designing your own website:

At the core of the vast complexity of the World Wide Web there is a consistent process at work; design. No matter which website you browse, the design will help to:

And all websites present their information using the language of the Web, known as HyperText Mark-Up Language, or HTML.

HTML, CSS & Javascript - Positioning, styling and functionality:

We will be looking at the basics of HTML and seeing how it is used to determine how various page elements (like text and images) are positioned. We will also look at HTML's 'styling' counterpart, Cascading Style Sheets or CSS, which controls how such elements look. We will then touch briefly on scripting languages like JavaScript which determine what the website can actually do.

Designing a website - Targeting your customers' needs:

Let's begin by stating an obvious yet often overlooked fact; a successful business website is not just about telling the customer how great the business is; it's about communicating what the business can do for its customer. So before you even think about designing your website, you must research your target market and understand exactly what your customers' needs are.

Designing a website - Design and content basics:

There are other considerations besides. For example;

Designing a website - A blend of art and science:

Web design is something of a 'multi-tasking' operation. You first have to understand your customers' needs. Then you must design and publish a website to address those needs. And then you must make sure the major search engines can find it. That means you need to put some effort into learning, and expanding, your technical, design and useability knowledge.

All told, web design a truly a blend of art and science

That means considering the use of colours, eye-catching logos as well as the positioning of text, images, animations and video. You'll also need to think about whether your site is easy to navigate - which means looking at the different options for buttons, textlinks and drop-down menus.

And if your potential customers have taken the trouble to search for and find your site, you will also need to consider how they can be 'converted' into genuine enquiries and sales leads.

For example, why not offer video footage demonstrating a given service or manufacturing process? Why not offer enlargeable images of a given product so users can really see what you are selling? Why not add a Live Chat facility so your potential customers can contact you on impulse without committing to a telephone call? All these 'conversion' techniques can help turn a visit into a sale.

Designing a website - Monitoring feeds improvements:

Lastly, you will need to monitor your website's traffic to check whether people are actually using the site in the way you intended.

For example, it may be that you want them to pick up a telephone to call you, or fill in a contact form to ask for a quotation, or perhaps to click on a 'Live Chat' button to ask you a question directly. If these 'calls to action' are not happening, it may be that a simple design flaw is getting in the way.

It may be that customers find your home page too slow to load, so they leave before seeing anything. Or they may find your contact form to long or intrusive to be bothered filling it all in. Worst of all, you may have buried your contact details so far inside the site that users get 'lost' trying to find your telephone number.

Monitoring traffic flow through your site will help you identify such problems and rectify them. It will also prompt you to keep the site simple to use, up-to-date, relevant, informative and interesting for the end user.

Designing a website - Remember it's organic!

Most important of all, you must remember that no website is 'set in stone'. It should be thought of as an organic and responsive tool that will adapt to your business needs and to the needs of your customers.

Recap of how to design a website:

So now we've touched on the basics of HTML, layout, writing effective textual content and avoiding the more obvious colour-scheme blunders, let's look at planning your website around your customers' needs and examining what the search engines are looking for...

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