Having secured a commission to build a web site, the first thing you will need to do is meet with your client(s) and take the decisions and gather the information you need to get started. This page presents the primary questions your client will need to answer at that first meeting to allow you to get started.
Discuss potential domain names with your client and use a domain name registration site (such as ukreg.com) to see if your preferred name is free. If it is, register it immediately. For a business that will "trade" globally look for a .com. If business will only be carried out "locally" choose a national domain such as .co.uk
Research the web sites of other similar businesses/organisations. yell.com (UK businesses) is good for finding competition. Borrow the best ideas and make a note of things you think are bad.
Ask you client for profiles of their customers groups. Detailed advice on profiling end-users is here.
Try to get a sense of the kind of design and look the client wants by looking at magazines, web sites and other materials. Many clients have already gathered together materials to show you. It is often a good idea to suggest a client does this in preparation for your first meeting.
If your clients requires the ability to update or add info/products to the site themselves you will need to consider this in your design. Also if the site requires php forms, a database driven content management system, discussion forum or other server side application you may need to consider employing expert help and advice, and ensure you choose a suitable hosting company who will support the technologies required.
You will need ...
It is important to design the look of your project screens or pages. This will ensure consistency of design throughout a project and also gives your client the opportunity to agree a look for the project before you start building it. You can read more about storyboards here.
You may wish to define and use a grid for your project.
Create a navigation map showing all the planned pages and the links between them.
When you have done all of the above, you will be able to arrange a second meeting with your client when you can agree the budget, plan and design. You will then be able to proceed with the construction of the site.
You will need to create a budget, to give your client an accurate quotation and to ensure you don't undercharge.