HOW TO DESIGN A NOMINATION-WORTHY WEBSITE – WITHOUT SPENDING MAJOR MONEY
Would you like to create a functional and aesthetically-pleasing website — one that’ll earn you a place on a best-website-award nominees list — without using fancifully complicated coding language and burning a hole in your pocket?
First, not to brag but we’re so proud that our website has been nominated for Singapore Website Awards 2018 (SWA)!
Considering we didn’t spend too much time, effort and money (except for the ongoing content) to get the website up, this outcome was reason enough for us to host a celebratory party.
But if you’re someone who don’t mind spending thousands of dollars and months going over every aspects of the site with a fine-tooth comb so you can get a glamorously unique website, then this is not the place for you.
What we’re doing here is pointing out what the design-dummies and tech-unenlightened can do to make a nomination-worthy website — without needing to hire a designer or developer!
Because we know exactly how you feel — having to spend loads of money when you’ve not yet made a profit just doesn’t feel too right (and great).
But don’t get your hopes up. We don’t mean you’ll be able to get a perfectly gorgeous website (with an abundance of content) with just a few hundred dollars. Indeed, you can get a website with a few hundred dollars, but you will get what you pay for.
Common issues with a website that costs less than $1000:
- Longer loading hours
- Difficult navigation
- Cheap-looking aesthetics
- Copy that are not enticing and doesn’t match with the visuals
- Not mobile optimized
A website on a bargain may feel tempting, but you’ll very possibly end up with a barely passable website that will turn customers off. And not to mention how you may even be paying a lot more in future to fix extra problems.
Also, making website on the cheap means it’s highly possible you’re hiring a freelance web designer/developer. And that always suggests no promises to updates of blog, posting new stuff, amendments or handle a security breach – all which needs to be solved immediately.
Before, we talked about why you should have a great homepage for your website. And it’s the least your website can have. To deliver maximum results, your site should also at least be visually-stunning, easy to navigate, seamless to use, without bugs, and filled with content worth consuming.
Having your website made professionally is exactly what you need if you:
- Want visitors to turn into customers
- Want visitors to goes back to your website for content
- Don’t have time to regularly post content
- Don’t have any design or web development skills
How to design a website
Design is subjective. It’s a fluid medium with no total rights and wrongs. However, there are some basic design ideas you should follow when creating your website.
A website is like your company salesperson 24/7 – it portrays and captures what your business is all about.
Simply put, a well thought out and designed website can help people trust and eventually buy from you!
What do you need to make a website?
First, you don’t have to be multi-talented to design a fine website.
Because there’s a certain formula you can follow to make the best website possible within means.
These are the guidelines:
- Be clear about what your company does. No matter how long you think it is, it takes way shorter moments for a visitor to make an impression on your site. Within that very short span of time, you need to make sure they know why your site exists and what your services can do to help them. Tip: Professionals who are involved in the creation of your website will insist on understanding how your business runs so they can design the site as accordingly.
- Discard excessive trends on design. Trends fade. Use a modern design for your website that will last through time. But we’re not saying you have to be dead on conservative. Truth is, your site can look good even without using trends! Employing fads on your site will only mean you’ll need to keep on updating your site’s outlook all the time, which translates to extra money spent.
- Keep colours limited. The best thing to do is refer back to your existing logo. Using colours that are in coherence to your logo will develop a signature and keep the site clean. Also, colours plays a big part in how your customers perceive your brand, so do a lot of research.
- Use unique visuals. Everywhere you see, they’re telling you not to use stock photography on your website. Not that you can’t, but those stock images they’re referring to is those that are outdated and deliberate. In other words, the bad ones. Said to say, but it’s the ultimate turnoff for visitors and really pulls down the standard of your site. If you don’t have the budget to take photos for your site and brand, here are some websites for free stock images.
- Make it as easy to navigate as possible. Your visitors are going to want to know where they can be go to next after they’ve spent a certain amount of time on your site, so show them. Limit the number of pages – we think a 5-page website makes the best choice (excluding blog posts). Keep most of the navigated pages as visible as possible, and clear and purposeful call-to-actions helps.
- White space! In the design sector, designers can’t overstate the importance of white space enough. Using a strategic amount of white space will make your website sleek and comfortable to the eyes.
- Be creative. Don’t worry – still no high technologies involved. Some sites that we see on the internet are extremely impressive because of various expensive-looking effects and transitions. But we remember that you, who’s looking at this post is on a budget, so we got another proposition. The cheapest and neatest trick we can think of for some innovations on your site is definitely word play. Think about it. Words, other then visuals, are what really hook your viewers. There are tons of excellent examples of websites using great copywriting. You can be quirky or humourous, as long as they make an impression on your visitors.
- Make sure it loads fast. As mentioned, modern people don’t have much patience. Prioritize speed! Keep your website ‘light’ and simple so your website doesn’t have to process too many things before it loads. Tip: The more complex aspects your site has to process, the slower it loads.
Not that hard, right? But some still do get it wrong.
Here are some examples of poorly designed website (not going to add in photos so you can experience it firsthand without expectations):
What makes them bad?
- Colours used are too complicated
- Designs are out of date
- Some of them took forever to load
- Hard to navigate
- They’re just not pretty
Start creating your first website
Step 1: Plan a tone of voice
Planning your tone of voice means making sure all aspects of your brand are cohesive – such as colour coordination, the tone of your copy and content, even down to the amount of white space used.
Lingscar.com is amazingly successful in using a rainbow of colours on the site to represent their flamboyance. And you’d be surprised at how successful that website really is.
Step 2: Choose your domain name
A domain name means the name given to your site such as www.contentright.com.sg. It’s highly recommended that you give good thought to it, since you don’t want to change it once you’ve it set up.
Step 3: Set up your web host
Your web host is where your domain name is hosted and where your website’s speed is decided. A web host that is powerful will guarantee almost no issues with its speed. And most of the options out in the market, such as WordPress, are genuinely affordable. If you’re intending to use ready-made platforms, see point below.
Step 4: Decide the kind of website builder you’d like to use
A website builder is recommended because you wouldn’t be here on this post if you had coding skills. The great thing about website builder, also content management systems (CMS), is that it basically manage and functions your site for you.
Step 5: Index your site
Once you’ve decided, it’s time to index your site to the search engine (Google, Bing). This step is crucial as it’ll help your site’s content be visible to search results on these search engines.
Step 6: Keep the site alive
After you’ve built your site, it doesn’t stop there. You need to be hardworking! You need to keep updating your site with relevant and valuable content.
Your site is your salesperson. With regular updates such as blog post like this one, people will know that your business is running and active. You can make use of your social media platforms or emails to distribute new content and drive visitors to your website.
Now, making a website doesn’t need big bucks.
As long as you’ve got the basic principles right and knows a little more than you should, you can have one functioning and good-looking site!
Don’t get me wrong. Professional designers/developers are still needed and bring a lot of benefits to the table. Especially when it comes to bringing in real cash flow from the site. But if you do not have the luxury of a big budget, come talk to us.