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Wonderful points — but I’d take slight issue with your use of the term “design”.
In the article it seems like you’re using “design” to mean “look and feel”. But I’d argue that, properly understood, “designing a web site” means structuring the content so as to meet the site’s business goals.
In other words, what you’re advocating is not preparatory to design — it is design.
In that understanding, look-and-feel is just one part of design, a part whose importance will vary depending on the subject matter and target audience of the site.
Thus one can argue, as for example Andy Rutledge does, that Craigslist is extremely well-designed. It’s also ugly. (Amazon’s a different beast; that really is a poorly-designed site, and I think it succeeds simply by being the biggest, baddest, and cheapest there is, not to mention a pioneer in its field).