The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results is an interesting look at designing a website from the inside out. This is the case for most graphic design as well.
This is a bit of a tangent from the article itself but it’s related and a great chance to go into the discussion. Creating a look before you know what is going to go into it will lead to some major problems. It’s also safe to say that your communication device as a whole will be much less effective since corners will have been cut and compromises made. Knowing what you want to say before you start trying to think of the way you are going to say it is very important to great graphic design. It is important to most things.
Think about those scenes in movies or TV shows where someone is rehearsing lines in front of a mirror and giving each one a different inflection. “Will you marry me?” “Willllll you marry me?” “Will you marry me?”. Creating a design before the message would have this scenario being “Place text here.” “Plaaaaace text here.” “Place text here.” After hours of different ways to say it and looks to give, you decide that your angry and in charge version makes you look the best. You’ll come up with the words on the way to the meeting. When you get to the meeting, you’ve decided that the words have to be “Will you marry me?” and unfortunately, you’ve decided to go with the angry and in charge tone. How is that going to work out?
The way something is communicated is very important but the communication itself is more important. Sometimes scheduling conflicts and those compromises do need to be made but this should not be the standard. Graphic design is just a tool to get your message heard, accepted and acted upon.