Designing the Flow and Layout of the Website
The next step in creating your website is to determine how you would like your website to flow and figure out the web pages you will need to create for the site. One helpful tool for doing this is a mind map. You can use a sheet of paper, a program like Microsoft Word, or even a free mind mapping utility like FreeMind. Use one node for each page. You can demonstrate logically how your page will flow by creating new levels for each node and each page embedded further in the website.
Once you have a basic schema for how you will create the different levels of your website, you can then do a thumbnail sketch of how you'd like your website to appear. Look at other websites. How can you make your site stand out amid the many sites that are out there?
In the website pictured in this section, my personal website, I used a template provided by my web hosting service. You might want to consider using such a service if you don't have a lot of web building experience and if you don't have the budget to hire a professional designer. I then replaced elements with my own images and built the site as I learned more about web design.
In fact, I will be updating the website again to reflect new services and products. It's important to update your website often to gain new visitors and so that repeat visitors will come back. For many, you might want to consider a blog—especially if your website will be service based. Post on a regular basis so you can develop a following. Make a plan now about how often you will be updating the website. This is especially important if you might be outsourcing for graphic design, web design, coding, or content writing. If you know how often you would like updates to occur, you can let the contractor know when you get your quote.
Once you have an idea of what you want, you'll be ready for the design and layout stage. You might want a graphic designer to create a logo for your business if you don't already have one. If you do, great! Depending on how artistically inclined you are, you might design your website on your own, or you might outsource. Make sure that the website looks clean and has clean lines. It shouldn't be too cluttered or readers might mistake you for a spam peddler.