Logo: Get the logo from client at start of project. Remember to ask for a vector or high resolution format of the logo.
Images: Is your client providing the images, or do you need to find images yourself? If the answer is "B," try out iStockphoto, stock.xchng, Veer, and Getty Images.
Text: You just need general text or at least a word count for home page; not all text is needed to start the design. If the homepage is not very flexible in layout, you may want to encourage your client to stick to a specific word count for main text areas.
Start off by asking your client about the types of colors they like. Also keep in mind that the colors chosen should fit the overall branding and complement the site's logo. Try out Adobe Kuler and COLOURlovers to create complementing color schemes.
Ask your client for a list of 3-5 websites they like and 3-5 sites that they do not like. If they do not have any in mind, make a varied list of sites you think they may like, and ask them about their likes or dislikes on them. This will help to give you a baseline of design and may give you an insight to what type of styling the client may prefer.
Please note that referencing a web design means to gain inspiration from a website, not to steal its content. Looking for reference sites? Time Magazine gave a list of the "50 Best Websites of 2010," all of which are bookmark-worthy.
Finally! You are equipped with just about everything you need, so design away!
As you know, a website is much more than a pretty design, and I have not listed half of the things that go into the creation of a successful website, but this is a start for you.
So, new web designers, next time someone tells you to slap something on the page and “Make it Pretty,” you are now ready to tell them NO ... and in a polite way tell them why.
Have an article on website design or just great reference websites that you would like to share? Please post it in the comment box below. Thanks for reading!
Lynton is a HubSpot Elite Partner that provides certified knowledge and tools to grow your business through integrated inbound marketing, including lead generation strategies, website designs and development, and CRM integrations.