Good Web Design, usually starts on paper. I prefer to gather all of my content before I begin any website. If all the content is not available, I will usually draw on a piece of paper a basic site map. Using the site map will help me set up what type of menu system I will use.
Once I know all of the menu items for a web site the next phase is the actual design of the website. I usually will ask the client for a few examples of some sites that they like. This is not so I can copy a website however, to see what elements the sites have in common. What type of menu (horizonal or verticle) system that the client seems to favor. This also helps me to see how the customer prefers for text to be handled... Justified, not justified, large, small fonts. It's truly amazing the things that you can pick up by viewing these websites! I will then go thru the client's competitors websites and see how they are handling things!
Once I have a good grasp on what the customer likes, I open up photoshop and I work up usually 3 looks. This is a process. I will usually spend about 4 - 6 hours on the layout of a website. Let's face it this is one of the most crutial phase for a successful website.
Once I have 3 looks that I like I send them to the client to get their feedback. Generally speaking, most clients will pick one of these three and we will tinker with the basica look until we are all satisfied with the Layout!
Once the client has signed off, I will then cut the "layout" up into html elements. (images to be used in the actual HTML Coding of the project) Once all the peices have been "cut", I will then open up notepad (yes, I said notepad) and I will then begin typing out code!
The end result is a highly graphic web page design that both myself and my client can be proud of!!!!
To view some examples of my website design check out my website at