Building a website is something that many companies and individuals have to do at some point and that can greatly help you to increase your reach and your influence. With more and more people going online though, it only stands to reason that some people will be feeling a little lost when they’re presented with the challenge of building a site, and the big question that you might find yourself asking is: where do you begin?
If you’re thinking of beginning by sitting down at a computer to start coding or using a tool such as Dreamweaver then you are most definitely getting ahead of yourself. Before you can start doing that, you need to slow down and think about what it is you want to build before you can start building it.
But if you’re thinking of starting with market research to make sure you know what people want, then you might also be getting ahead of yourself a little. How can you do market research before you know who your market is? And how can you know who your market is before you know what it is you want to achieve?
How to Find Your Way
The first thing you should be aware of then that may well surprise you, is that different companies and different people will need to start their web design in different places. This all depends on your goals so the first thing you need to ask yourself is what your site is for.
If your site is for you and your main goal is self-expression and satisfaction then you will be using a ‘bottom up’ design process. In other words, you’ll be asking yourself what you want to accomplish then building your site around those goals.
On the other hand however, if your site is for your customers and you are trying to promote a business/make money, then you will want to take a top down approach that addresses the requirements of your site and the state of the marketplace you’re going to be entering.
A bottom up approach is of course much easier than a top down one as it’s generally impossible to fail. That said though, it can still be useful to take a structured approach that will help you to build your site in a way that will result in a good final product.
To start then, look for themes and colour schemes that you like. Search for inspiration on other websites and in magazines, then take all the elements you like and create a ‘mood board’ using those images. From here you can then work with those concepts and turn them into a website that works the way you want it to.
On the other hand, if you are going to take the top down approach then you need to do market research into what works for your site and what your visitors want to see. This will once again mean looking at other sites for inspiration, but it might also mean asking people what they like and don’t like about those sites, and what they look for from a site in your niche.
Likewise you need to identify some key objectives for your site so that you can ensure your site fulfils those goals. For instance, you might decide that your main goal is to sell an e-book. Knowing this you can then build your entire site around that goal by making the ‘buy’ button the most prominent link on your front page and removing other distractions.
Decide on the goals of your site and you should find the rest comes from there…