Designing a website starts with defining the role the website is meant to serve, or its purpose.
You’re guessing right – there are different types of websites that are used for different purposes. The three most popular ones are: landing pages, one-pages and classic websites. Obviously, there are also large sites (portals and the like), but that’s a completely different topic.
You need to know what purpose your website is meant to have. That way the website you’re designing will be understandable to the users.
If you run a business of some sort, the user needs to know right from the start what you have to offer.
For example – you own a car repair garage. The user needs to know they have entered a repair garage’s website and that they can use specific services.
The purpose of such website is to inform about those services, and thus – to gain new clients
It’s not like your website is going to be viewed by search engine robots only ;). That’s why you need to think about who will be (and already is) the audience of your website.
After all, they’re the ones you want to reach, aren’t they?
Defining the audience of a website is directly related to the purpose of your website. They’re the ones to fulfill that purpose, after all.
Web design defines such profiling as “persona creation”.
Which means you need to think about what exactly the users are going to want from your website and who exactly they are going to be.
You certainly have some profile of your website’s user in your head. You need to think about what exactly they need, what their preferences are, why they ended up on your website and what they should find on it for you to reach your goal.
For example, a perfect user of a car repair garage’s website will be someone who needs to have their car repaired.
They want to know what kind of services the garage offers, where it is located, what its operating hours are and how to contact it. That’s the kind of information they are going to be looking for on the website.
Your job is to put it in a visible place.
In other words: creating personae will let you better tailor your website to the needs of your users.
Remember – (good) web design is closely related to addressing the needs of specific personae. Which means your perfect users. Once you define your audience, it will be easier for you to define what the user wants to find on your website.
It’s always nice to draw something. Especially if you have no idea on how to get to designing a website in terms of visuals, just remember: it’s always worth it to get inspired, which makes it a good idea to go through a few websites that you think are nice and draw some conclusions. That’s why it’s better to start designing a website with a piece of paper.
Once you have the elements that should be featured on it, you can expand it onto subsequent subpages. Make one sheet of paper for each individual subpage.
Place subsequent elements on each “subpage” (make sure to maintain the order of priority). You don’t have to be afraid to cross things out.