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      How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success

      Designing a website is easier than it has ever been. Long gone are the days of manual coding and restrictive print-based layouts. Today, almost anyone can create a gorgeous, responsive, functional site in minutes — as long as you know where to start.

      Fortunately, the basics of website design are relatively easy to understand if you apply some common sense and careful planning. Your goal should always be to create a site that’s not just visually striking but is also easy to navigate and use.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of designing a website and show you how to get started with six key tips. We’ll also introduce you to the Remixer website builder and demonstrate how you can use this tool to create a site quickly and easily.

      1. Plan Your Design Thoroughly

      Before you do anything, you’ll need a concrete and thorough plan. At this stage, you should clearly define your goals and expectations for your site and outline what you hope to accomplish with it.

      Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to:

      1. Is the site personal or commercial?
      2. Do you want it to make money and if so, how?
      3. Will you be using advertisements or affiliate marketing?
      4. How much traffic are you expecting?

      Put your thoughts and ideas down on paper and start drawing up a plan. We mean that literally, by the way. A smart method of planning your site is to create sketches of how you want it to look and operate. You should also take everyone’s ideas into account if you’re working with other designers or collaborators.

      By the end of your planning phase, you should have a blueprint of the site’s top-level framework. This includes a plan for its user interface (UI), sidebars, and other page elements, as well as an idea of how navigation will work. Doing this first will make it much easier to bring your vision to life.

      2. Create Your Site’s Visual Identity

      When you’ve got an idea of what the structure of your site will be, it’s time to look at its appearance. You’ll need to choose the fonts and typography you’ll want to use. If you’re working from an established brand identity, consider how your choices match up to offline materials. It’s also worth exploring how well the fonts you choose work with multiple languages and how effectively they scale up and down on differently-sized screens.

      You’ll also need to decide on a color scheme. Again, if you’re creating a site based on a brand with an established visual identity, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Otherwise, picking a color scheme requires you to consider color theory and ensure your choices are accessible.

      Thinking about the ‘feel’ you want your site to have can make this decision easier. Colors represent different emotions and meanings, after all. For example, red is typically seen as an aggressive and impulsive color, while green is associated with health and the environment. You should take time to choose your colors carefully since they can help you create a cohesive visual identity.

      3. Consider the Layout and Navigation

      If you planned ahead as we discussed earlier, this step will be a lot easier. You’ve already considered how navigation will work on your site. It’s now time to dig deeper and think about your visitor’s journey.

      The visitor’s journey refers to the possible paths that people can take on your website. In other words, you’ll need to consider how users will access other parts of the site from any given page. After all, you won’t always have control over how users first arrive on your site, so you can’t just rely on a homepage to serve as your hub. Navigation needs to be available across your site, and it has to be accessible and easy-to-use.

      You also need to plan out the layout of each page carefully. To do this, ask yourself what each page on your site is trying to achieve. For example, if you want people to fill out a contact form, you’ll need a strong CallTo-Action (CTA) button. Your CTA should always be prominent and clear.

      Every element on a page should be designed to promote the overall goal. It’s best to start simple and add elements over time to ensure you aren’t adding unneeded information or features.

      4. Pay Attention to the Details

      When you’ve completed the overall design and layout of your site, it’s time to shrink your scope and focus on the details. These are the seemingly minor things that create the general look and feel of your site, such as buttons, menus, image placements, and so forth.

      Treat each component on your site as a stand-alone object and give it proper attention. This is the kind of precise work that can seem excessive but will greatly help to refine your site overall. Your goal should be to make the final product better than the sum of its parts, and spending appropriate time and effort on those parts is the best strategy.

      One way you can make your site ‘pop’ is by adding engaging elements like microinteractions. We’ve previously discussed that these are a popular trend — and for good reason. They help make your site feel more interactive and living since it’s able to respond to the user in small ways.

      You should also work on avoiding common mistakes, such as bad font rendering and poor color contrast. These are the kinds of issues that are easy to miss if you don’t get up-close with the individual components of your site. For that reason, make sure you give them the attention they require.

      5. Prototype and Share Your Design

      Prototyping is an important part of the design process. A prototype is simply a demo version of your site that you can share with others. It can be presented as images or you can create a static HTML representation of how each page is meant to look with little-to-no functionality.

      Creating a prototype is an important way to give others an idea of what the site will look like when it’s done. If you’re working for a client, they will naturally want an overview of your plans and the chance to suggest changes. You should, therefore, show them a prototype early on so they can provide feedback. This will save you time down the line, as they won’t be surprised or displeased with your work when it’s nearing completion.

      One thing to remember: site builders make creating a site so quick and easy that you often don’t need a separate prototype. You’ll be able to quickly put together a new idea and solicit feedback from others without creating a demo (more on this later).

      6. Challenge Yourself and Be Willing to Experiment

      Finally, remember that web design is a creative endeavor, and you should always be willing to challenge yourself. This applies when you’re creating your first website or your 50th. For example, you can consider new ways of approaching a particular design goal. Maybe you’ll experiment with different color schemes, images, or a more accessible navigation layout.

      This step is more important than it might seem. Not only will it help you to grow as a creator, but it will also give you an extra incentive to find new solutions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Giving yourself a challenge in each new project is an excellent way to keep yourself focused and invested in your work.

      One smart way to get started is by finding inspiration in recent design trends. You can consider how you can implement those trends yourself or even improve on them.

      How to Design a Website With Remixer

      When it comes time to put the tips we’ve discussed into practice, you’ll need the right tool for the job. With that in mind, allow us to introduce Remixer. This is a website builder that requires no coding and enables you to create your site using an intuitive visual editor.

      The best thing about Remixer is that it enables anyone, regardless of experience, to create a website using the basics we’ve outlined throughout this article. With Remixer, you don’t need to know your way around HTML, CSS, PHP, or any other coding language to create functional and visually-striking websites.

      To start using Remixer, you just need to sign up for a free account. When you have signed in, you can start creating your site in two ways. The first is to choose a theme.

      When you hover over a theme, you can either preview it or select it as your starting point. This will open the Remixer editor, which we’ll look at soon. However, you can also choose the Create option in the upper right-hand corner. This will instead give you the choice of three different types of website.

      After you select one, you’ll be able to choose your site’s color palette. Remember to consider color psychology when making your decisions. You can select an option to see a preview of how it will look.

      Next, you can click on the Choose Images link in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. This will enable you to select a series of stock images to use on your site. You will be able to replace these later, so consider them more as a guide for yourself as you design your site’s appearance.

      Finally, you’ll select Choose Fonts to proceed to the next step. As you might imagine, this is where you’ll pick the fonts to use on your site. Find and select a font pair that matches the visual identity you’ve settled on.

      When you’re happy with your choices, click Preview Site. You’ll now be shown a snapshot of how your site will look. To preserve your preferences, select Save and edit this site. This will open your site in the Remixer editor, where you can edit its layout and content freely.

      Remixer is a click-to-edit builder. So to make any changes, you just need to click on an element on the page. For example, to update text, you just need to select it and make changes right in the editor.

      Other elements, such as images, can be changed with the menu on the left. Select the element you want to manage, and relevant settings will appear in this menu.

      To add new elements to the page, click the New buttons, which appear between existing sections. This will expand a selector, where you can pick the element you want to add to the page.

      At this point, you can freely make changes to your site. Every edit will be shown in real-time so it’s easy to experiment and see how your changes will affect the final result. As long as you remember the tips we’ve discussed throughout this article, you should be only a short time away from creating an excellent website with all the functionality you require!

      Need a Beautiful Website?

      Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.

      Ready to Design Your Site?

      Even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life, you can still create a great-looking, functional website. All it takes is understanding the basics of what makes a successful site and using an intuitive tool like the Remixer website builder to put it all into practice.

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      Your 2019 Website Redesign Checklist

      Who doesn’t love a good home improvement show? Whether the hosts are starting with a dilapidated shack or a perfectly posh estate, they seem to know exactly what to do to create a visually stunning home that uses space well and promotes a steady, efficient flow of foot traffic.

      The same basic principles of home renovations are also at play when recrafting your website to capitalize on modern design trends, improve user experience, and enhance business opportunities. Most site redesigns require more than just cosmetic changes to be truly effective, though, meaning the daunting process intimidates many from even starting.

      The fiercely independent can learn how to design a website from scratch using only HTML/CSS. But even seasoned developers often prefer starting with a template to get a head start on design. Whichever route you want to take, we’ve compiled a checklist that will help you achieve the most effective redesign without getting sidetracked in pet projects or overwhelmed by color swatches.

      via GIPHY

      Before you start taking down the wallpaper or swinging a sledgehammer, though, take a good look around. You can’t have the impressive “after” pictures if you never take stock of what was wrong with the “before.”

      Your hosting plan acts as the foundation for your online house. If it’s not as solid as a rock, your redesign just won’t be as successful as it should be. Don’t be afraid to migrate to a reputable host with high-powered solid-state drives and a proven track record of knowledgeable support — all features commonly touted in DreamHost reviews for performance, security, and WordPress.

      Whether your current site needs to be stripped down to the studs or just requires a fresh coat of paint, we’re here to help you through the process. Let’s get started!

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      1. Put Your Current Site Under the Microscope: What Works and What Doesn’t?

      Re-examine everything — website redesigns don’t happen often, so here’s your chance to get everything just right. Figure out which pages are the most frequently visited and look at your site analytics to see where your visitors come from and where they go. Weak content will reveal where you need to concentrate your redesign efforts, while the pages that generate traffic and convert well should be optimized even further.

      Beyond exploring the depths of your current content and design components, a website redesign is also a chance to measure the effectiveness of the behind-the-scenes usability and performance features. Are you happy with your content management system, or would you like to change to something new? Is your hosting provider delivering the speed, security, and support of your dreams?

      Just as you are updating the images, words, and interactivity of your website, it might be time to upgrade elsewhere, as well. For example, you might want to consider learning how to use WordPress, the world’s most popular online publishing platform. DreamHost excels at hosting WordPress with knowledgeable support, fine-tuned performance optimizations, and nuanced security measures.

      2. Find Inspiration and Time Savings: Which Tools Can Help You Succeed More Quickly?

      Naturally, most designers and developers tend to spend the most time in the design phase of rebuilding their dream home — er, website. Who wouldn’t want to spend hours toying with color palettes, typography, and the hot new interactive design feature? The options are limitless — and that’s the problem.

      Set your programming pride aside, if only for a few minutes, and take a look at a few site builder options. Originally created to help beginners get online, click-to-edit website builders now offer enough powerful tools that enable experienced site owners to spin up one-of-a-kind websites in a fraction of the time it would take to create the same look from scratch.

      DreamHost gives users a free trial of their Remixer website builder, providing a no-risk path to several responsive, professional templates that can be easily customized to meet your redesign goals. WordPress, unsurprisingly, remains at the front of the pack for diverse user-friendly designs. However, you’ll want to follow these seven guidelines to avoid being overwhelmed by the millions of options.

      Whichever platform you’re considering for your new website, scores of professional designers are already hard at work crafting modern themes with many of your same goals in mind. Why spend weeks and months slaving over your own in-house creation when someone has already done most of the heavy lifting for you?

      3. Look Beyond Colors and Fonts: How Can Your Content Carry More Weight?

      With countless options for your new design, it can be extremely easy to get bogged down in imagery and other visual elements. For a website redesign to be truly successful, however, all aspects of your online presence should be improved. Don’t agonize over which rug to place in the family room when there’s a gaping hole in the roof, for instance.

      Your content serves as the framing of your online house, around which all accouterments hang. The layouts, colors, images, and typography should all serve to showcase the strengths of your brand’s words and messages — not the other way around. Use analytics to discover what articles and pages resonate the most with your site visitors, and look for posts that maybe weren’t the home run you anticipated.

      Instead of using your website’s text to brag about your company’s history and products, share how your brand can help users accomplish something or solve a problem. Concentrate on writing for your audience, not yourself — otherwise, you risk coming off as overly salesy and robotic.

      Also, look for content opportunities beyond your homepage or about section. Blog posts, for example, are a fantastic tool for informing potential users about new ideas and practices, along with outlining how your brand contributes added benefits. Having tailored our own blog around several customer-serving and brand-building initiatives, we’ve learned plenty and witnessed several mistakes to avoid. Apply these rules across your site for even greater success.

      4. Concentrate on User Experience: How Can You Optimize for Conversions?

      Just as your content should be written for your visitors, your redesigned website should make it abundantly clear to visitors where they should click to find the information and services they seek. Don’t choose themes and layouts solely based on what looks good to you or your colleagues — your site doesn’t exist for you. If your website doesn’t quickly usher visitors to where they want to go, it becomes a business liability instead of an engine for growth.

      Use analytics and your site audit from Step 1 to determine why people come to your website. How do they find you? Where do they go? Do they make a purchase or interact with your company in another way? Should they?

      UsabilityGeek puts this simply: Instead of looking at the “fun” aspects of a redesign (imagery, colors, fonts, and animations), start with guaranteeing basic functionality. Positive experiences make visitors more likely to convert to customers and brand supporters who will recommend your services to even more potential users.

      The founding father of information architecture, or the art and science of organizing information in an effective way, created a useful diagram to illustrate the components of user-centered design. A conversion-optimized layout means your website should be useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, and valuable.

      5. Devise a Plan and Get to Work: What Needs to Happen to Meet Your Goals?

      Once you have an idea of both the general purpose of your website and how a potential design scheme will help users achieve certain goals, commit your thoughts to paper (or whichever electronic document you prefer). Document your current content strengths and weaknesses, along with details on how the redesign will address any concerns. Which pieces of your old site will stay? What components still need to be created? Where can content be optimized?

      Draw out your conversion funnel and your ideal sitemap to ensure the two are working in tandem. Define your audience and create rich descriptions of the types of people your new site aims to serve. What are they looking for? What stands in their way? How can you help them?

      Now that all the big-picture philosophies are accounted for, start getting into the nuts and bolts of enacting your new design. What is your ideal timeline? What needs to happen before other phases of the rebuilding can occur?

      Formalizing your goals and deadlines puts them front and center as you embark on the redesigned website journey. Refer to your plan frequently to make sure you’re staying on track and not getting distracted from your main objectives.

      6. Preview Your Site on Different Devices and Browsers: Are All Your Users Covered?

      Once the bulk of your site is rebuilt, we need to check on our user experience yet again. Not everyone has the same computer configuration as you or your team, so you need to account for the various browsers, screen sizes, and devices that visitors may use to access your new website.

      As with many of these steps, start with your analytics — they’ll reveal what browsers your audience typically uses. Opening and testing your website in both modern and outdated versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer is a good start, but feel free to check out Opera, Edge, and even the Facebook browser to make sure all your bases are covered.

      You’ll also want to view your site on mobile devices. Starting in late 2016, more users accessed the internet from smartphones and tablets than from desktop computers. Even though mobile-optimized websites are critical to online survival, there are multiple ways to make them happen. Responsive themes rearrange site content to adapt to the device’s screen size, while mobile websites are designed specifically for smaller screens. Regardless of the path you choose, be sure to look at your site on several iOS and Android devices and browsers.

      If you’re not completely sold on a particular design scheme or layout, don’t be afraid to do some A/B testing, which entails pitting two or more design elements against one another to see which performs better. Most commonly, A/B testing is used to measure the effectiveness of calls to action (think buttons), content quality and quantity, forms, layouts, product prices, and images. Traffic is routed to the various versions, and analytics should reveal which choice leads to better conversions.

      7. Make Your Work More Visible: How Can You Reach People With Better Keywords?

      Don’t let all your new-fangled pieces of content and snazzy layouts go to waste. More than half of your traffic likely comes from visitors who clicked on a link to your website that appeared in search results. Search engines are the gateways to your audience, so your content and site structure should do all they can to appease the almighty gods.

      Search engine optimization, or SEO, can feel like quicksand to the uninitiated, but the payoff from implementing the most basic keyword research principles can inspire even the most skeptical users to learn more. Start by making a list of the topics you want to be known for — it could be products, your expertise, or the subjects you commonly write about. Develop keyword phrases for each of those topics. What would your users type into Google to find you?

      Don’t be afraid to be specific and use what are called long-tail keywords. Fewer people might search the phrase in a given day or week, but they’ll be more grateful to have discovered your resources and more likely to convert. Generic keywords have much higher competition, often from more established brands that have been playing the SEO game for much longer.

      8. Improve Your Technical SEO: Why Does Server Speed and Security Matter?

      Search engine optimizations extend beyond your content, headings, page titles, and alt tags. Technical SEO refers to behind-the-scenes elements that help search engine crawlers find and scan your site to learn how relevant and trustworthy you are.

      One of the main technical SEO components is the speed of your site. It’s no secret that longer page loads can dramatically affect traffic and sales, but it can also greatly affect your position in search results. Off the bat, you can improve your website’s performance by signing up with a host that powers its solutions with high-performance solid-state drives (cough cough . . . DreamHost). Otherwise, keep your templates and code base as lean as possible — don’t get bogged down in extra plugins, widgets, or tracking codes.

      Many other factors might have already been addressed in your redesign process: Mobile-friendliness is a major factor in search performance, especially for location-based searches (think looking for a nearby restaurant). A user-friendly site architecture or sitemap is important, as is the security of the HTTPS protocol. Many hosts, including DreamHost, enable users to access this technology by providing free SSL certificates.

      9. Test and Tweak Your Design: What Can You Do Better Next Time?

      No one wants to work in a vacuum. You will have spent countless hours slaving away over your new website, and completing your objectives on time is a major accomplishment — shout it from the rooftops! Launch your new website with announcements through a press release, email, social media, and any other method available.

      Just as analytics played an important role before and during the redesign, the numbers should play an important role going forward to both measure your success and expose even more areas for improvement. According to the Matrix Marketing Group, losing your critical eye and abandoning your metrics analysis is often the reason for needing a redesign in the first place.

      Remember the new houses in those home improvement shows?

      The episode might have ended, but those homeowners still need to dust, do the dishes, and sweep the floors to keep the property looking as fresh, modern, and appealing as it did the day the renovations ended. Keep your long-term goals in mind, along with a wish list of features and optimizations you’d like to implement in the future — you’ll be better equipped to tackle them in your next redesign!

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