So, it's your mum's birthday and you want to show her you love her so you decide to buy her a present.
Your first step isn't to buy the gift bag for it to go in; that's counterproductive. If you did that first, you'd limit yourself and would probably spend longer than you planned looking for a present that fits into the bag, or buy one that doesn't fit, looks awful and makes your poor mum think you don't love her enough to get her something nice.
Your first step is, of course, to buy the gift. You think of a few things that you know she will like and you narrow it down to one item, that you can afford and will be available in time for her birthday.
Now your next step is to choose how to wrap it. Now you know what you're wrapping, you can find the right box/bag/paper to cover it sufficiently.
Here's what I'm saying:
Showing your mum you love her (the big picture)
The gift (content)
Wrapping it (design and development)
Bethany Joy (http://bethanyjoy.org) spoke at UX Oxford last night about how content is equally as valid as the design and development of a website and how getting these three right gives you the trifecta of happy websites.
Regardless of a client's specific goals, always consider the big picture. All websites follow the basic principle that the website is one of several communication tools used to get closer to set goals. To get closer to your goals, you need others to make moves and take action. Content guides the user to take the right actions, which helps the client get to their end goal.
Bethany's process is:
Functional planning/scoping/naming things
Designing (pages or components)
"Final" designs (something for a client to see)
Testing and tweaking
"What is surprising is the number of times that time and money gets wasted because companies don't approach the creation of their new website in the best way, meaning that their websites aren't as successful as they could be. Far too many businesses prioritise design and development over content - in other words, they care more about what their site looks like and how it works than they do about what it says."
Thank you to Bethany for an eye-opening talk!