“Before you contact any Web Designers, you first need to put together your own thoughts on what you want your site to do and how you want it to look. This doesn’t need to be a formal process; that’s why I call it Dreaming. Instead, I recommend making a list of features (e.g. catalog, shopping cart, updateable content, portfolio of work, articles, contact us form, tell-a-friend form, etc.) and a list of content (e.g. news, Blogs, product/service descriptions, about us, legal disclaimers, etc.). Then brainstorm a few words that characterize the site you want built (e.g. professional, catchy, trendy, fun, colorful, elegant, etc.).

You should also make a list of domain names in this step, if you don’t already have one. If your Web site is for an existing business, the domain name should be as close to your business name as possible. If you’re creating a new Web-based business, the domain name should be easy to remember and easy to type. Do a domain name search to find a name. There’s only one limitation on choosing your name: someone else can’t own it. This is a big limitation and can result in a lot of effort and frustration.

Don’t forget that high-quality web hosting is critical to the success of your business. I strongly recommend against using commodity shared hosting from HostGator, Godaddy, Bluehost, etc. This article explains why.

1. Why do you want a new website?
2. Who is your website trying to reach?
3. What do you want these people to do when they get to your website?
4. How are you going to promote the new site?
5. How will you know if the new site has been successful?
6. When do you want to launch the new site?
7. Do you have a domain name (and hosting) in place yet?
8. Who is going to populate the new site with content? Do you have a content plan?

Once you have your lists of features, content and adjectives, you’re ready to consult a professional. It’s important to do your dreaming first before speaking with a Web Designer. By having your own thoughts written down, you will have a handy reference that you can use to jog your memory during the design.”