Day 15: Ways to Design Your Own Website

In yesterday’s post we discussed about the elements that constitute a good web design – that makes your website look professional and attractive.  Today, we’ll be looking at the different ways you can design your own website.

As mentioned earlier in the series, you will first have to decide which content management system or platform your website will use.  Once that is decided upon, you can get into the specifics of designing your online space.  Here are a few options you can consider when deciding how you are going to get your web design done.

Hire a Professional Designer

If you have enough capital set aside in your business start-up budget, you can hire a professional web designer for your chosen content management system.  There are even niche specific designers available, who are specialists and have a thorough knowledge about the topic your business/blog is about.  For example, someone who specializes in designing websites for church ministries, women entrepreneurs, food/recipe blogs, etc.

Professional Designer: Deluxe Designs

If you decide to go with a professional designer, take a look at their portfolio and check out their testimonials and reviews.  It will be no good to hire someone who does not deliver on their promise.

DIY (Do It Yourself) 

If you cannot afford a professional web designer, the only other option available is to do it yourself.  But when you do, try to make sure that you do not repeat the following design mistakes most amateurs make.

Most Common Web Design Mistakes

  1. Cluttered Appearance – This is one of the most common errors I’ve found in websites designed by novices.  Please opt for a simple and structured layout design that includes enough white space.
  2. Extensive Flash Components and Animation – While I am not totally against a flash website, these components will make your website take longer to load and they are not that search engine friendly.  Also keep in mind that too much of animation, rolling texts and images will distract your audience.
  3. Too Many Ads – While placing ads is a genuine way to monetize your website or blog, please don’t overdo it.  This is one of the biggest turn offs for first time visitors.  My suggestion is that you should refrain from placing ads or affiliate links until your website attracts enough audience.

Develop your own Design from Scratch using a HTML Editor

This option requires a thorough knowledge of HTMl & CSS (or any other language that your site requires).  There are free as well as paid HTML editors available using which you can develop your website template or theme.  Dreamweaver is a paid HTML editor and KompoZer is a free alternative.

Buy a Template or Theme from a Template Store and Modify

This is the option I use when developing websites for my clients.  I have done the same for this website as well.  I buy a template from a template store like ThemeForest and customize it to satisfy the client’s requirements.

  Template Store - themeforest

Just about every design element in a paid theme can be customized – fonts, colors, graphics, images, etc.  You can also add custom CSS to make your website look as unique as you desire.  The only limitation is that you will be allowed to use the template or theme for only a single site. {Very few designers allow unlimited usage of their themes.}

Download a Free Template/Theme and Modify

There are free templates and themes available online that you can use on your website.  You might have to include a link in your site’s footer to give credit back to the theme creator.  Just as the option above, you can modify a free theme and customize it to suite your business.  Some themes and templates however have some restrictions and won’t allow you to add/modify the CSS.

Use an Online Web Designing Portal

Most of the web hosting companies have an inbuilt website builder tool that you can access from the control panel.  It won’t be very sophisticated but can help you get started.  There are other free online website builders available but the hosting will also be provided by the portals.  If you’d like to use a custom domain though, you will have to go for the premium plans available there.

Two good online website builders are IM-Creator and SquareSpace.

Online Website Builder - squarespace

Additional Help

There are several online forums that you can approach for technical support and help in designing your website.  You can register at the forums for free and ask for help when you face any technical or design difficulties.  There will be experienced people available who will help you out.  You just need to create a new post specifying your problem and other members will reply to it.

Here are a few good support forums:

1. Stack Overflow – This is a Q & A site where you can frame your problem as a question.

2. Tech Support Guy

3. HTML Help

4. WordPress Support – This is a one stop shop for all issues related to self-hosted WordPress sites.

I hope today’s article has shed some light on how you can go about designing your own website.  Be on the lookout for a detailed post with boatloads of resources to help you build your site.

P.S. – There’s a surprise in store for you tomorrow!  Don’t miss it!!!

Today's Action Step: Take a look at the options above and choose which method you will be using to design your website.

And here are the winners of the Domain Name giveaway!!!

1. Michelle Elrod
2. Rosilind Jukic
3. Martha
4. Katie ‘Condit’ Rogers
5. Kim Eisenberg Mcdonald

Click here to catch up on all the posts in this series.