Your website on the Internet will compete with many other websites. For this reason, the websites that you will be creating should depend significantly on your audience and your competition.
As a web designer, you will need to reconcile what your clients think they need and want, what the end users need and want and what you can do as a designer to accomplish the goals of the website.
During the preliminary stage, you will need to collect and study the business requirements for the website. These requirements are more like a wish list because most likely you will not be able to get all of them met with the budget and timeline that a client will give you. Some of the requirements may also not be appropriate for the end users.
For this reason, you want to define not only business goals but also user goals. These two sets of goals combined together should become your primary measuring tool when it comes to determining what content and what functionality the website should have.
Once you understand the business goals of a website and before you can start designing a website you need to learn about the target audience. Suppose you need to design a website for an assisted living facility. If you are not familiar with the industry, you may be thinking that the audience of the website is senior citizens. In reality, it is not the senior citizens, but their children, typically adults in their forties and fifties, who are doing the research and are making the decision about where their parents will be moving to. This piece of information is critical for the creation of the website, from graphic elements to content to website structure.
For this reason, you always want to have a conversation with your clients about their industries, competition, trends that are occurring and problems that they are trying to solve.