What are you trying to share with the Internet?
Content is king.
Seriously, think about it. What is the purpose of a site without content? There isn't one. So this is the biggest and most important part of building out a new site or redesigning an existing one.
The Chicken and the Egg.
This is the age-old question, isn't it? Do we come up with a design first? Or content?
Well, the answer is quite simple. CONTENT. How can you possibly create an effective design without knowing what kind of content is going to be displayed in it?
Take e-zines for example. With a lot of articles to show and with each article having different weight for drawing attention you wouldn't place these in a single column layout, would you? No. You want columns, lots and lots of columns.
And a photography portfolio wouldn't be shown in lots of little distracting boxes, right? You want big, beautiful images that draw you in.
Gather content first
As soon as the planning stage is over, you should be generating your content or getting it from your client. At the very least you need to have an outline of what the major blocks of content will exist, how many pages, and if they will require separate layouts so you can plug in some filler text to get a good feel for how the site will look and you can begin the design phase.
What About SEO?
Ah, yes, the hot topic that everyone wants to talk about. This is possibly the biggest part of content creation. Before you / your client begins generating content, you should start planning for search engine optimization. For tips on climbing to the top of the search engine result pages check out the development page!