Assess the area where the fence is needed. You have to decide whether the fence is required around the whole property, down one side, or only a small portion. These factors may be influenced by a crowded neighborhood, a neighbor's porch in close proximity to your own, an eye-sore next door or simply for security reasons. If there is a slope in the ground this affects the design---will you have a staggered fence, or a fence that gets taller as the ground slopes, to maintain a horizontal top?
Think about function. If the privacy fence is for security, then a simple wooden plank fence may suffice. Consider whether you will plant vegetation along the fence, in which case a trellis top can be added for climbing plants, or use privacy fencing with in-built planter boxes for flowers and small plants. If you want to include a design element such as a water feature or a mosaic into the privacy fence, this also needs to be considered.
Mull over possible materials. Wooden privacy fences are by far the most popular, but vinyl and corrugated metal are used at times. Bamboo makes a very interesting-looking privacy fence, and adds an oriental touch to the area, while kopper logs give a rustic feel. Masonry fences are less common due to expense, but can give either a Mediterranean feel if terracotta style masonry is chosen or an English garden feel if natural gray stones are chosen.
Sketch the design chosen onto the paper. Include the length, style elements such as trellises or planter boxes, and the desired material. Don't forget to put the eight-foot height measurement into the design before taking it to a contractor.