Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

Creating a website isn’t nearly as difficult as it once was. With today’s modern technologies and tools, you don’t even need to be an expert in programming to create a great looking site.

To get the best results, however, you want to plan out each step to ensure everything works and looks just the way you want it. Web designers typically break the process into four separate stages. This helps to keep things organized and also allows you to build your site properly, so everything looks great.

In this article, find out about the four stages and get answers to the following questions:

  • Why is planning your website important?
  • How do you lay the foundation of your website?
  • When do you add content to your site?
  • When is a website ready for launch?
  • What happens after you launch a website?

Why Is It Important to Plan and Lay Out Before Building Your Site?

When creating a website, it can be tempting to just put up a basic template and start publishing your content right away. This is a common mistake that people make, largely because most sites today are made using great website-building tools.

While these tools make creating a website easier, you should always follow these four stages even when using them. This helps ensure your site functions properly, looks the way you want it, and is easy to update going forward.

Stage 1: Architecture | Layout

The architecture and overall layout of the site serves as your foundation. In this step, you need to complete the following steps:

Taking the time to make sure you have these foundational things in place helps you to avoid problems down the road. Once you have the right domain and web hosting in place, for example, you won’t have to worry about those things again for years to come.

Deciding how you build your site is also going to have a major impact for a long time. For example, if you decide you want to create your site using WordPress, you aren’t going to want to switch to another system in the future unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The layout of your design is a little different than the other steps at this stage. Planning the layout, which includes things like types of menus, placement of columns, and other similar things impact the rest of the process directly. While you may change your layout in the future, it’s not something you want to do on a regular basis.

Stage 2: Content | SEO | Navigation

Technically speaking, stage 2 never ends. You’re always working on creating new content, tweaking your SEO, and making sure your site is easy to navigate. For now, however, you just need to create your initial content. Whether your site is filled with written content, images, videos, or something else entirely, you want to make sure you have plenty there for viewers to enjoy right from the start.

SEO is also very important. This involves things like making sure your site tags are filled out properly, using proper linking strategies, and much more. Since Google and the other search engines are always modifying their algorithms, you want to make sure you’re always keeping your SEO strategy up to date.

Finally, the navigation of your site. While you have set up your initial menus in stage 1, you want to make sure your onsite linking is completed so visitors can find what they need easily. This includes setting up the various categories you are using and adding links within your content where applicable.

Stage 3: Graphics | Colors | Multimedia

Next, add all the “extras” that make a site look good. The graphics of your site, for example, include things like menu icons, supporting pictures, and more. You also want to choose the overall color scheme of your site at this stage. Choosing the right colors and graphics makes a big impact on how long visitors want to stay on your site, so be sure to take this stage seriously.

Every page on your site should be laid out in a way that’s easy to follow and gives visitors a sense of continuity. This can be supported by things like supporting videos or images in the same location, a standard text format, and much more.

Stage 4: Launching | Analyzing | Revising

Once you’re satisfied with the way your site looks from the first three stages, it’s time to launch it to the public. Of course, this is where the real work begins for your site. You should be gathering analytical data from every aspect of your site and using it to make adjustments and revise your page on a regular basis. This is all in addition to regularly adding new content to the page so visitors always have reasons to keep coming back.

In many ways, the ongoing revisions of your site are done by going through each of the first three stages repeatedly, especially stage 2. You should always be working on adding new things to your site, trying new features, and seeing what works best.

How To Set Your Web Design Goals

With the right planning, creating a website doesn’t have to be difficult. Even if you have no experience with web design, you can create a functional website that’s able to meet all your goals.

You must, however, first know what your goals are to achieve them. You might even call the process of identifying your goals “stage 0” since it should be done before you take any actual steps in the web design process.

Woman working on a laptop with a cardboard box sitting next to it.
Source: InMotion Hosting

This is important because the goals of your site have a direct impact on how it’s designed. For example, if you want your website to simply provide location, hours, and contact information for potential customers of your business, a simple page made with a site builder works nicely.

However, if your goal is to create an e-commerce marketplace to generate online sales, your layout, content, and everything else is entirely different. There are many different goals you can have for a website, and they each require a different approach.


Take the time to think through what it’s you want your site to do. Once you have everything in mind, start working on stage 1 and move through each stage. While thinking and planning are essential, you also need to take action.

By following through these four stages of web design you can ensure that you’re moving forward on your goal of having a website operational so that it’s successful.