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      How to Design a Website Without Knowing How to Code


      As a small business owner, the importance of owning a website cannot be overstated. When you’re just starting out, however, you may not have the funds to hire a web designer. So the task falls to you or your team instead.

      The good news is that you can build a website yourself without getting bogged down with any technical details. Using WP Website Builder, DreamHost’s suite of premium tools and plugins, you can quickly set up a professional, easily-customizable website — no coding knowledge required!

      In this post, we’ll walk you through setting up a basic hosting plan with WordPress and WP Website Builder pre-installed, which you can use to create a responsive website from scratch. Let’s get to work!

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      An Introduction to WP Website Builder

      The landing page for WP Website Builder.

      It can be challenging to design a unique, fully-functional website from scratch. Going the traditional route requires you to learn, at the very least, web design languages like HTML and CSS. You also need to consider responsiveness across different devices, cross-browser compatibility, and accessibility for different types of users.

      Enter WP Website Builder!

      Built by our friends at BoldGrid, WP Website Builder is a drag-and-drop tool for creating websites with minimal effort. You’ll get access to a huge selection of professional website templates, making it simple to create a unique-looking site and publish your content quickly. And while you don’t need any coding skills to use WP Website Builder, you’ll be able to scale up your site’s functionality over time because it’s built with WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system (CMS).

      Best of all, as a DreamHost user, you get access to WP Website Builder for free! All you need is one of our Shared or DreamPress plans.

      How to Design a Website Without Knowing How to Code (In 6 Steps)

      So how can you get started with your new site? The following six steps will take you from purchasing a hosting plan all the way through building a website.

      Step 1: Create a DreamHost account

      Shared hosting plans come cheap and are perfect for getting your small business off the ground. You get a user-friendly interface with a no-stress one-click installer and the flexibility to build any kind of website: whether that’s an e-commerce store, a business website, or a blog.

      For new website owners, we’d suggest starting out with either a Shared Starter or Shared Unlimited plan. On the checkout page, tick the checkboxes shown below, either under the Additional Options section or in the right-hand menu, to pre-install WordPress and include WP Website Builder.

      The checkout page for the DreamHost Shared Unlimited plan.

      If you already have an account, you can access your DreamHost control panel to add WP Website Builder to an existing WordPress installation instead.

      Step 2: Access Your Website and Choose a Theme

      At this point, you’ll want to log in to your new WordPress website. You’ll be presented with the BoldGrid Inspirations wizard, which will walk you through much of the setup process. Click on the Let’s Get Started button to begin.

      The WP Website Builder BoldGrid Inspirations wizard.

      Next, you’ll want to choose a theme for your website. This will provide a starting point and help to determine your content’s appearance and layout.

      The Inspiration wizard theme selection screen.

      Hover over any theme to see it more closely, and click on the Select button to apply it to your site. We’ll go ahead and select the Cobalt theme. Keep in mind that you can always change your theme later, and you’ll also be able to customize many of its elements and styles.

      Step 3: Choose Your Content Structure

      Once you’ve selected a theme, the next thing to do is choose a content structure. Click on the Change Content button to begin.

      The Inspiration wizard Content screen.

      You’re given three Pageset options: Base, Five Page, and Kitchen Sink. You can also choose whether or not your website will have a blog.

      Adding a blog to your site.

      The Content screen also lets you see how responsive your website will be across different screen sizes. That way, you’ll know what it will look like for both desktop and mobile users.

      Step 4: Enter Essential Site Information

      This next screen lets you fill in information that will be used to populate key aspects of your website, such as your contact information and social media account details. You can also leave this screen as-is and edit these details later.

      The Inspiration wizard Essentials screen.

      Once you’re done here, select the Finish and Install button to complete the installation.

      Step 5: Design Your Pages and Posts With the Drag-and-Drop Builder

      After the installation is complete, you’ll be presented with your WordPress dashboard. The next step is to begin customizing your website by adding new pages and posts (if your site includes a blog).

      The WordPress dashboard.

      We’ll start by adding a new page called Documentation and include some content on the page using blocks.

      The Add New Page screen.

      The next screen is divided into two sections. The right-hand side of the page gives you a selection of blocks, and the left shows you a preview of what your page will look like once it’s live.

      Hover over an appropriate block and click the + Add to Page button.

      The Add New Page screen.

      Here’s what our page looks like once a few blocks have been added.

      A new page with multiple content blocks.

      Once you’re satisfied with a block, select the checkmark icon to accept it. 

      Step 6: Customize Your Blocks and Publish Your Content

      After adding a block, you’ll be taken back to the main editing screen. This is where you can edit the blocks you added or include entirely new content.

      The Add New Page screen.

      When you’re done editing, preview your page to make sure you’re satisfied with the look, and then select the Publish button to make it live.

      Publishing a new page.

      If you chose to include a blog on your website earlier, you can create posts just as easily now. Click on the Add New link that appears when you hover over the Post menu.

      Creating a new post.

      You can then create your post exactly the same way your page was designed. Clicking the + button will open a menu with different types of block options. Once you’ve created your post, preview and publish it, or save it as a draft to continue editing it later.

      Website Design Made Simple

      Whether you want to install a WordPress theme, choose a website template, or hire a web developer, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

      You Can Be a Website Designer

      Building your business website from scratch should be quick and easy. Fortunately, the intuitive drag-and-drop interface of WP Website Builder and its dozens of professional WordPress themes make it a practical choice for new website owners.

      Ready to build your own website? Get started and have your WordPress site up and running in no time by signing up for one of our shared hosting plans and WP Website Builder!



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      Designing for Humans with Design Thinking


      Video

      DigitalOcean’s Earl Carlson (UX Design Manager) and Celia McQueen (Senior Product Designer) discuss building impactful products with a human-centered focus.

      Before you can build something truly impactful for your customer base, you need to understand them. Learn more about design thinking, a problem-solving process that enables you to create innovative solutions for your users’ needs.



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      7 Web Design Mistakes That Could Be Scaring Away Your Visitors


      What is keeping internet users up at night? It could be that scary movie they just watched, or worse yet, it could be your website.

      If you’ve got a digital presence decked out in a ghastly design, it’s likely robbing you of precious clicks, driving away potential customers, and sabotaging your chances of building a well-ranking, authoritative brand.

      The good news? You don’t need to be a web designer or an expert in web development to improve a weak website!

      In this guide, we’ll detail the seven design mistakes that could be scaring away your visitors — and how to fix them quickly, so you can make sure your website is all treats and no tricks.

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      1. Scary Slow Site Speeds

      For consumers browsing the internet, nothing is more spine-chilling than a slow-loading site. Before you can say “Boo!” they’ve abandoned your page, leaving you with irritated audiences and suffering engagement.

      In fact, page speed can be the make-it-or-break-it factor for the success (or failure) of your website, dramatically affecting everything from sales to sign-ups to search traffic.

      Visitors have high expectations: 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 49% abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Plus, 79% of online shoppers who have trouble with site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again.

      Ouch. That’s a lot riding on your site’s load time and overall performance.

      Is your site (creepy) crawling? Use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to clue into your site’s performance and discover needed areas of improvement to achieve lightning-fast load times.

      Woman typing on computer

      We’ve also got a few tips to speed things up: trim down bulky code, patch up caching issues, optimize your site’s CSS, and perhaps most importantly, choose a quality web host.

      2. A Haunting User Experience

      Think about the last experience you had at a brick-and-mortar store. Did the floor layout, decor, and atmosphere invite and engage you? Or did tight aisles, overly-intrusive sensory elements or a labyrinth-like setup negatively affect your shopping experience? Whatever your experience, we’ll take a guess that it will largely determine whether you visit that store again.

      It’s the same with your website.

      The kind of experience users have on your site (from the second they land there) will affect how — and if — they engage with you. If your site contains nightmare navigation, unsavory design elements, or poor performance, visitors won’t stay long.

      Open laptop on table

      To craft and cultivate a positive user experience, make your navigation and drop-down menu intuitive so users can find what they’re looking for. Then follow aesthetically-pleasing design principles and keep site operations fine-tuned. If your visitors have an enjoyable experience on your site, not only will they be more likely to come back, they’ll engage with you and help you find site success.

      3. An Unresponsive Layout

      Ready for some hair-raising facts? Based on data from January 2018, the global population of unique mobile users reached 3.7 billion — yep, billion. What’s more, 52% of web internet traffic in 2018 was mobile, and the mobile-only audience is expected to grow to 55 million by 2022.

      Mobile internet usage is gaining significant traction, and will likely overtake desktop internet usage in the future. That means if your website is not optimized for different types of screens, including smartphones and tablets, you’re going to lose out on meaningful engagement from your target audiences.

      Plus, having a responsive site isn’t just important for user experience; it’s a critical element of your SEO strategy. Google operates on a mobile-first indexing policy, meaning the search engine predominantly uses the mobile version of website content for indexing and ranking. So, investing in a mobile-first approach to your web design is essential when it comes to optimizing for search engines and, ultimately, driving traffic to your site.

      Hands holding iPhone on black table

      Responsive design also affects your brand image. A whopping 89% of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive experience on mobile. On the other hand, 46% of people say they would not buy from a brand again if they had a less-than-stellar mobile experience. What’s more, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site.

      The key takeaway here?  Prioritize a website optimized for mobile and responsive across devices and different browsers.

      4. Terrifying Typography

      You might not think the fonts on your site matter, but utilizing type haphazardly or without thoughtful intention is a major design flaw and affects the experience your visitors will have, even if just subconsciously.

      Just like with other elements of design, typography follows rules — dictating what text combinations, colors, font size, and layouts are aesthetically-pleasing and effective. Well-established typography can increase your conversion rates, build your brand authority, encourage action, amplify your message, and create a positive sensory experience. Consult our guide for typography to-dos, and plan your font strategy with meticulous consideration or else you risk interrupting usability and cognitive fluency.

      5. Ghostly Calls to Action

      When you enter a haunted house, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Zombie up ahead? Hidden skeletons behind the door? Unidentified noises behind you? As you’re feeling for the exit in the dark, you’re going to face a host of unexpected and spooky mysteries.

      Your website visitors shouldn’t feel like they’re having a haunted house experience when they enter your URL.

      When internet users land on your site, it should be free of mystery ghosts and ghouls. Meaning, visitors should know what to expect. They should know where to find a contact button, how to navigate your menu, and above all, what you want them to do — whether that’s read a blog post, subscribe to an email list, follow your social media platforms, or purchase a specific product.

      Product page on website with Add to Cart button

      Having a clear call-to-action button helps users know how to engage with you, vastly increasing the chances you’ll find success (and those boosted analytics you want!). Guide potential customers to a specific action with a clear, prominent, and well-distinguished icon or button and include it on all your pages and content.

      6. Spine-Chilling Safety Oversights

      Online users worry (a lot) about online safety. In fact, 73% of Americans who use the web are concerned about online privacy, so your website needs to be a safe space, free from creepy-crawly web demons and malicious malware.

      Person holding credit card near laptop

      First, outfit your site with an SSL certificate, giving your visitors the peace of mind that your website is secure. Even the presence of a safety badge or security can do wonders. Then, tighten security by using a quality web host, upgrading to HTTPS, utilizing secure plugins, configuring file permissions, and backing up your site regularly to keep site terrors at bay.

      7. CloakandDagger Content

      The fact of the matter is, you need to offer your website visitors value or else they have no reason to stay.

      With quality content, you provide users with a way to engage with you, helping drive traffic and build a following. But if your content is hard to find, sub-par, or (gasp!) nonexistent, you’re sabotaging your chances of success. Use the following tips to make sure you’re creating top-notch content.

      Embrace Your Niche

      Whatever field or industry you occupy, keep your content consistent for your target audience. Relevant content will build your brand and help establish your site as an authority amongst your competition, distinguishing you from the rest.

      Proofread

      Error-ridden content will brand you as an amateur. Stay professional by taking the time to edit and polish your content before hitting “Submit.” Clean content will go a long way toward establishing your brand.

      Offer Value

      Not only are attention spans shorter than ever, but often, visitors need a good reason to even engage with your site. Entice potential customers with incentives — whether that be free e-books, blog posts, printables, or insider tips — to get their eyes on your content.

      Person typing blog post on laptop

      Prioritize Consistency

      You don’t have to post content on your site every hour, but you should be posting regularly. Your visitors should know when to expect new content from you. This will build their trust — and your authority. Use a content calendar to plan, schedule posts ahead of time, and keep yourself organized.

      Fix Those Eerie Web Design Errors

      Don’t give your audiences the heebie-jeebies with poor website design. Offer them the best of online experiences with the virtual treat (we’re talking king-size candy bars here) of a well-designed website.

      Fixing those pesky web design mistakes will prime you for top-of-the-line placement in search engines, improve user experience, boost conversions, enhance site usability, lower your site’s bounce rate, and establish your online presence — plus, they won’t leave screaming.

      Sounds good, right?

      If you’re ready to makeover your website, trick-or-treat yo’ self to professional web design. We’ve partnered with RipeConcepts, one of the world’s leading web design firms, to make your dream site fast, easy, and affordable. Sign up for a free consultation today!



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