There are some general steps that I go through with any design, whether it be for the web or print. They can be summed up in 3 steps, Research, Design, Execution.
The solution often lies within the problem. Relevant research into what a client does in all of its facets is often the springboard out of which unique and wonderful design arise. It is in this phase that the most time is often spent. In my work with Dr. Craig Landry one of the first things I noticed was the prominence of the Golden Proportion in the aesthetics of Cosmetic Dentistry. So I incorporated that into the CSL monogram.
How must the parts fit together on the page? What sort of fusion of image and typography needs to happen to make this all work beautifully together? This phase is usually spent sketching layouts in the sketchbook. Most, if not all of these designs are never seen by the client but what is presented is what is called a "comprehensive" or mockup of what the finished piece will look like. For a website it will be a working prototype.
The final stage is the execution. This is done on the computer in a drawing program for the logos and corporate identity and in a web program editor for websites (but I often must code pages by hand to make them do what I want them to do.)
The work at this end involves solving code problems and making all the parts function correctly for the web.
For printed material, getting things right before it goes to the printer or outdoor company saves costly fixes done when you are already in the printing process. Understanding the limitations and potential of print makes the client look good for less.