Whereas before, having a website is already a cool thing in and of itself, it would be hard luck to find a single competitor without visibility online nowadays. With audiences constantly bombarded with possibilities, options and opportunities in every inch of web real estate, the one with the most focused message to the most targeted audience lends itself to competitive advantage. With the current trend of events in the web design space, the website planning process becomes critical even more so than before.
More and more elements are coming into play in the design of a website. There are usability considerations to think of, accessibility guidelines to mind, information management and architecture challenges to deal with... the list goes on. Furthermore, if the goal of your website ultimately has something to do with monetization or leverage for a brick-and-mortar business, then not only do you have to challenge yourself with a business strategy, but also, an online marketing strategy. Some might argue that those strategies are beyond the scope of the role and responsibilities of the designer. The designer needs to plan and map out which is unnecessary and which adds value to the website, which serves to be distracting and which lends itself ultimately to better user experience. The more robust a plan you have for your website, the easier it is to later on assemble and maintain it later on. There is no doubt a plethora of web design resources out there that you can refer to, but not so many goes comprehensively into the website planning process.