When designing a website, it is a good idea to plan the process in advance. Planning first is time-saving; you will know in which direction you ought to proceed and in what manner. Let's look at some basic things you will need to consider when you design your website -
Purpose of the website
What is the website intended for? The website's purpose majorly influences its overall look. Designing a corporate website will follow a different interactive approach than designing a social networking site. An art gallery site will have a different visual interface than, say, a writer's site.
Who is the targeted audience? What information do you want to convey to them? How will they be expected to use the website? Can they participate in information sharing and content creation? A good part of the web design is accomplished with the user in mind.
Will the site regularly feature new content, or will it be updated infrequently? What kind of content is to be featured? Images, text, forms, and videos? How is the content to be placed on the web pages for easy access, viewing and navigation? In what order, sequence and sections? Have you allowed for dynamic, user-generated content in the web design and planned for future website expansion? Content should be well-organized so that it can be easily retrieved and displayed even after a site redesign. This is what is known as Information Architecture.
What are the features required on the site? Some common ones are a blog, a shopping cart, threaded comments, widgets, RSS, CMS, third party services/applications (like GoogleMaps, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) and so on. You may want to incorporate space for advertisements, product links or ad-hoc content within the website design.
Type of Design
What type of design do you want? Minimalist or detailed? Do you want to keep the same template throughout or would you prefer different layouts for different website sections?
Minimalist designs are popular for their clean, uncluttered look. These sites feature plenty of space, large fonts, glassy effects and sleek images. This type of design is also known as Web 2.0 design.
Play around with different website design ideas to find the one that suits your purpose. Preferably, the visual design should reflect the content theme.