Yes, there are some super cool website tools (ReadyMag,, Framer), including some with A.I., that can assist you in building a new site. But it remains true that if you want control of the process; if you want something that begins with your vision, then start offline, with paper. In that way, you won’t be distracted by the templates and elements presented by the site generator. Rather than be led by the engine to find a pleasing way to organize your site content (which might not even be done yet), you will have identified the ideal design and content, that speaks to you. Thus, you can then go to one of the engines and make it work for you.

I call this Pre-Design Intervention : owning your full vision before a designer and/or design engine gets involved. It is a fun process. One possible reason, aside from being offline, is that it involves human-to-human communication. You can speak out about what you value, and how you want things to go. Get inspired when your consultant brings up some ways your site could go. With digital design, most anything is possible. Worry about implementation later. Talk about your project as a whole, and then home in on a starting screen. Think through the content to display your users, and which content is conditional on their choices and other criteria. Start drawing. Draw a page for each potential screen.

Our next step will be digital, but also offline. We just need to open a document or text file, and write about the screens we designed on paper. What is on each screen? We can write in the style of a film script: “Two buttons appear on screen. When we mouseover (or tap) one of them, it moves up and down. When we click and release a button, the other disappears. We see a paragraph of text … ”

Just as there are numerous sophisticated site maker engines, there are plenty of storyboarding / wireframing / design tools such as Figma and Sketch. But even those we can forgo at this point. Let us use English to spell out what is seen and what happens. Although not visual, there is a certainty to declarations.

Next up: the text copy. Staying in Word or equivalent, we can write out, edit, and revise all the copy that would appear as content and as prompting / interactive text (think buttons). We also list the images and videos we need to create and gather.

You now have a very valuable set of assets to begin the digital phase of your design project. A blueprint, a roadmap. Your ideas, fleshed out. Now when you go into the site maker engines you can ask, ok, how is this going to allow for this?