If you’re just starting out with your own personal business, hiring a bona fide web designer may not be a possibility right away. Thankfully, designing a website of your own without any formal training is easier than ever—you just need some practice and a little elbow grease. And some tools. Here are eight tips to keep in mind when designing your own website.
Look for Inspiration
The first step towards designing a beautiful, user-friendly website is knowing how to spot one in the wild. Think of your favourite websites—the ones that make you stop mid-browse and say, “dang, that looks good.” Try borrowing ideas and concepts from the sites you love and integrating them into your own design.
Learn a Coding Language
Look, you’re going to have to learn how to code sooner or later, so you may as well learn on your own terms, right? Designing a website doesn’t necessarily require you to master more complex coding languages, and you’ll likely be able to get by having mastered the basics, namely HTML and CSS. Online services like Codecademy can be a great starting point, and there are plenty of boot camps and university courses you can try if you’re really interested.
Find a Site-Building Service
There are plenty of comprehensive and easy-to-use site building services out there. You really can’t go wrong with any of the big players, but Weebly is our personal favorite. The service lets you optimize your site for mobile and desktop, choose from a set of pre-built themes and drag-and-drop the apps and widgets you want to include on your site’s homepage. If you’ve got a domain name with Rebel, using Weebly is simple and foolproof – simply turn it on in your Domain Manager. Check out our list of five reasons to try the service for more info.
Ask for Help
Chances are you’re not the only person you know who’s ever tried to build a website. Reach out to others you know for tips and tricks, and try to learn from their mistakes and successes. It helps to come prepared with a few specific questions, so try your hand at putting together your site before asking for help from friends and coworkers.
Make it Accessible
Think of what you look for when you open a webpage. Is the search bar visible? Is it clear what the site is for and how it’s meant to be used? Are there a million little things to look at, or is it clean and easy to understand? Try to imagine yourself visiting your website for the first time. If it’s not clear within 10 seconds what the site is for and how to use it, you need to simplify.
Sketch it Out on Paper
If you prefer a pen and paper to a tablet or Photoshop document, try sketching out your dream website the old-fashioned way. Starting on a sheet of paper can be a great way to experiment with new ideas and concepts without having to actually code them all. We recommend graphing paper—it will help you match measurements once you decide to take your design into the digital world.
Pay Attention to Typography
Are you a Helvetica person or an Arial person? Serif or sans serif? Bold or italic? These things matter when it comes to making sure your website is clean, consistent, and readable. Try pairing different fonts together and experimenting with spacing and size. If you’re looking for help, Font Pair is an awesome resource that helps you choose typefaces that go together like peanut butter and jam.
Don’t Give Up
If design were easy, web designers would be out of a job. Putting together a beautiful website may look effortless from the outside, but once you start getting your hands dirty, you’ll soon realize just how much work goes into making sites like Tumblr and Flickr so darn good. Don’t lose your nerve if your first few sites end up looking like MySpace circa 2004—you’re only going to get better from there. And if you need it to look awesome on the first try, there are great resources that can help you make it happen.
Build your website with no technical skills – seriously. Check out our website packages that fit every need and budget (including free) right here.