How many pages -- If you don't know how many pages you're going to have to start with, then you really can't start designing your site. Sit down and consider the topic of your website, what do you need to have. For instance if you're building a website for a restaurant you might have the following pages:
- About us
- Special events
You would then write down what you would put on each page. For instance, perhaps on the home page you want pictures of your facility, and food. On the About Us page, you might call it the name of your restaurant and tell your story of how your place started. The menu would have a printable version and viewable version of the menu and so on.
By knowing what is going to be on each page, you know what kind of system you need to build it. For instance if on the reservations page you want site visitors to be able to create a reservation online you will need technology that enables this. If you simply want the site visitors to phone, then you will just need a regular page with the contact information.
Page layout -- Do you want to have an entry page on the home page, or do you want the front page to be your blog or announcement area or both? On the content pages do you want one page with side bars, or not? Do you want more graphics, do you want the graphics to move, or be static?
To blog or not to blog -- In some cases, you may not want a blog, although I recommend all websites have blogs or an easy way to update with ever changing content because content is how you will obtain organic search results from people typing words into a search engine search bar to find a specific kind of restaurant in a specific area.
Colors -- Do you already have specific colors in mind for the website? if you already have logos and letterhead then you should match what you already have because your online persona and your offline persona should match completely and seamlessly. There are programs to match colors if you upload a photo or the logo.
Fonts -- What type of fonts do you want to use on your website. Whatever you choose it should be of a size and shape that is easily readable by your target market. Also keep in mind that some of your target market might be blind or have vision problems and use special programs or readers that read the website to them. Which makes it important that you know how to tag each item and what fonts to use for the best most universal results.
This is just a starting point for any website that you want to build. Obviously, there is a lot more to mapping out your website than these five items, but if you don't start here you will waste a lot of time with a hit or miss website that does not deliver the look, feel or technology that you need to make it work for yourself or your client.