How to design a modern website (in 9 simple steps)

Learning to build a website requires a bit of knowledge gathering, patience, and that unwavering drive that’s essential when learning a new skill.

If you’re new to website design, it can be overwhelming. To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide along with helpful resources to help you through this process.

9 Steps to Designing a Website in 2022

Let’s review the 9 stages you’ll go through when designing a website:

1. Define the scope and objectives of your website

Whether you are designing a website for yourself or for a client, it is important that you first clearly define the purpose and objectives of the website. Every website strives for eye-catching design and a nice user experience, but they also need to reach (and grow) a target audience.

Sometimes, customers will come to you for your purpose. , goals, objectives, branding and content complete and ready to be implemented in a CMS (content management system). However, some clients will rely on your experience to create a new site or redesign the current one.

To define the goals and scope of a website and associated web pages, you need to know the why, what and how behind it.

Why should this website exist?

Before designing a website, you need to know its main purpose, so ask yourself: why should this website exist?

For example, if you are building an eCommerce website, the purpose would be to list products through an online store. If you are designing a portfolio website, the purpose would be to showcase your work.

What should this website accomplish?

Once you’ve defined your why (i.e., the purpose of your website), you need to think about what you hope to achieve with this website.

For example, if you are building an e-commerce website, the website should help you attract your target customers and convince them to buy your products. For a portfolio website, the achievement might be getting a potential customer to visit your contact page and fill out a contact form.

How will the website fulfill its purpose and objectives?

Once you know why your website should exist and what you hope it will accomplish, you can focus on how to turn those hopes into reality. reality.

It is important to consider not only how you will attract your target audience to your website, but also how you will keep them there.

As you go through your design process, it’s important to keep in mind the best practices for website SEO (search engine optimization). Setting up your site so that multiple pages rank well in Google is crucial if you want customers to be able to find you through search engines.

Next, think about the entire user experience and visual presentation of your website, from the top of the page, through the headers, to the footer. Your design should immediately attract site visitors and keep them happy with intuitive navigation, fast loading time, and a logical layout.

2. Research and Plan Content

Once you have your why, what and how, you can start planning the written and visual content that will keep website visitors engaged.

Start by researching your competition. Browse their websites and see what you love (and don’t). Pay attention to the user interface (UI) and your user experience (UX). Take a look at your content to see which headlines, visuals, or features grab your attention.

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Get inspired by current web design trends and galleries like Dribbble or Made in Webflow. Take note of any design elements, wording, or content organization that you think might serve your audience well.

After you’ve collected your notes and insights from this investigation, create a mood board. If you’re working with existing images, a Pinterest board is a good option. However, if you want to dive into more detailed designs, a tool like Figma will serve you better.

Moodboards are ideal because they allow you to consolidate your findings and transform them into a more visual representation. They can serve as the basis for building your brand identity.

3. Design your brand identity

Brand can refer to a company or personal brand. It encompasses both your visual identity, including color scheme, typography, logo design and your website, and your overall brand personality.

If you’re designing the website for a business, you probably have your own style and brand guidelines that dictate your brand identity, including colors, fonts, logo variations, etc., that you can apply to web page design. But if you’re starting from scratch, there are a few key elements to consider: color scheme, typography, imagery, and overall voice and tone.

Color Scheme

Color has a profound impact on brand identity. Color meanings and psychology influence people’s perception of a brand based solely on color. Also, background, life experience, and even the generation people are in all influence color preferences.

You can use this to your advantage. Think about what emotions you want people to associate with your brand. Consider what age groups you would like to attract. Let these things guide you towards a color scheme. For example, if you want to appear trustworthy and wise and hope to reach baby boomers, you might create a website color palette around navy blue or cerulean blue.

Typography

Font, typeface, and typeface are all related, but not interchangeable. Fonts are like the parent: a set of glyphs or letters in a particular style. Fonts are like children, a variation of a typeface with a certain weight or size. For example, Arial is a typeface, while Arial Black (a bold, heavier version) is a font.

Typography involves typefaces and fonts, but refers to the overall art and design of arranging text. Take these examples from Type Fan, for example. Both websites use a typographic design to really grab your attention.

When used strategically, typography can be a strong indicator of a brand’s identity. If you explore Leandro Assis’s website, you’ll find that typography is central to his brand, which makes sense, as Leandro is a typeface artist.

But you don’t have to be a lettering artist to use typography to your advantage. As you design a website, continually go back (perhaps literally) to see what your layout and text layout would look like to a new site visitor. Does it exude the mood and message you’re looking for?

Images

You can’t complete a brand identity without visuals. This includes the images you use on your website, as well as brand assets for social media, advertising, etc.

Images encompass a wide variety of elements that come together on a website, including photographs, illustrations, animations, and icons. You’ll use images alongside your other design elements, making sure they work well with your color scheme and typography. The examples below show two different but effective uses of images.

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Caption: Bazil’s portfolio site and Shuuga’s website

The image above shows the home page of Bazil’s portfolio, which uses a photo in black and white with a transparent background combined with large typography. This combination provides a professional yet visually appealing first impression.

Below, you can see Shuuga’s website, which also uses large typeface but in a much more fun and colorful font. Shuuga adds movement with a smiley face cursor icon and enlarged photos of the sweets sliding across the screen.

Both websites are strong examples of how to make color, typography, and imagery work in harmony.

Voice and Tone

A brand’s voice is based on the company’s overall values ​​and mission. Often this is broken down into a set of characteristics and driving forces, such as informative, relatable, and approachable people who want to spread positivity. Or, professional, technical and accurate experts who aim to provide current and accurate information. Your voice is like your brand personality: it stays consistent and always represents your brand characteristics.

The tone can change depending on the situation. For example, the tone of your social media posts can be funny and a bit sarcastic at times. However, you would not want to bring any sarcasm into the tone of your customer service emails. In Webflow, we define tone as “Audience + context + content = tone”. You can review our voice and tone guidelines for more details on how we designed them.

If you’re designing a website for a client, you probably won’t have to dig too deep into which words represent the right voice and tone, but you’ll need to make sure the design matches.

Going back to the Bazil and Shuuga portfolio site: The design of each website gives you a first impression of each brand’s voice and tone. If you look at Bazil’s homepage, you can assume that he is a pro who leans more towards a clean, minimalist design with a friendly touch (the hand emoji gives us an idea of ​​Bazil’s personality). Shuuga, on the other hand, probably has a more maximalist design with flashy and fun touches.

4. Create Your Wireframes and Draft Site Copy

Wireframes are essentially mockups that map out design elements during the planning stage of website design. Think of them as the blueprints that provide the overall layout and flow of a website.

Wireframing helps you visualize your content so it has an established structure before you start adding images, adjusting the wording, and adding extras like animations or parallax scroll effects.

Wireframes also force you to consider how site visitors will interact with the content. Take a look at the example wireframe below. The mockup shows a navigation bar with dropdown menus, a featured image carousel, and a designated space for different items like videos, news articles, and a music player.

A wireframe created by Derek Clark

Draft site copy and web page organization

While many wireframes include lorem ipsum text as a placeholder, it’s best to be more intentional with your copy. You don’t need to have your copy finished, but you should have a solid understanding of the purpose of each block of text. Kendra Rainey, Edgar Allan’s director of content, recommends writing “theoretical copy,” content that includes directional text.

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For example, instead of using lorem ipsum text for a title, she writes “Exciting Title that highlights a product”. feature.” Or instead of just “testimonial,” write “brief testimonial from a customer talking about how this product helped increase their productivity.”

This is also a good time to start thinking about your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.No matter what type of business or brand you’re designing a website for, you’ll need to generate traffic to be effective.

As you map out the different pages of your website, think about which keywords would be associated with the content. For example, if you’re building an e-commerce website, you might want product category pages based on high-search volume keywords. And if If you plan to write blog posts (which are also great for SEO), you can create a “/blog” subdirectory where all those posts can live.

Of course, this is only a small aspect of SEO for websites. , see Website SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to Ranking on Google for a more detailed guide.

5. Choose your preferred website builder

If you haven’t decided on a platform for web development yet, now is the time.

Obviously, we’re biased towards Webflow, but WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify are also common platforms used for web design, web development, CMS, and eCommerce. However, it is worth noting that each of these platforms has its limitations and shortcomings.

WordPress

WordPress is best suited for blogging. While it can work as both a static and dynamic CMS, you’ll need to purchase WordPress themes and pay for WordPress plugins to get that functionality. Many designers have made the switch from WordPress to Webflow and have never looked back.

Wix and Squarespace

Wix and Squarespace are What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) website builders, which may appeal to beginners with no design or coding experience. However, platform limitations make it difficult to customize layouts. This is why websites built with Wix and Squarespace sometimes have that standard look with templates that make them all look the same. It’s hard to stand out to your target audience if your website looks like your competitors. But you don’t have to take our word for it: freelance designer Antonio Segurado shared how switching from Squarespace to Webflow helped him gain design freedom and create a gorgeous custom website.

Shopify

Shopify is great for eCommerce, but if you want more than just an online store, it’s pretty limited. And just like Wix and Squarespace websites, you risk having your Shopify online store look similar to several others who chose the same design. If you love Shopify’s eCommerce functionality but want more customization options, consider using the Webflow Shopify integration.

Webflow

Webflow lets you design, create, and collaborate in one place, without having to write code. You can switch between the Designer, a visual canvas that lets you build visually as you write clean code underneath, or the Editor, which lets you write and edit text directly on each web page. Webflow University also has many detailed tutorials and courses available for free to help you get up to speed.

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