Measure the space you will designate for the deck area. Draw the square footage of the deck from a bird's eye view on a sketchpad. Include one end of the deck to be constructed in an octagonal shape, for example. Avoid making a simple square or rectangular shape if the deck will take up significant yard area. Keep the shape interesting, so it will look visually appealing from a distance.
Use graph paper to create a decking pattern. Draw sections of the deck floor in various diagonal patterns, for example. Sketch a pattern for the central 12-foot-square section of the deck, using various patterns for installing board flooring. Create additional floor sections with boards running lengthwise or in some type of diagonal pattern. Consult a decking magazine to see how to plan various patterns of deck flooring.
Draw various railings for the deck. Use narrow balusters every 6 inches around the perimeter of deck railing, as one choice. Build a side railing of lattice work as another option. Sketch metal railings on a wooden deck for a high-tech house or a home near the ocean.
Plan special roof areas and other amenities. Draw a porch roof over a small gazebo at one end of the deck, for example. Plan sitting benches around the deck perimeter that are constructed of the same kind of boards used for the deck flooring. Design one or two benches that double as storage boxes for grilling equipment or lawn-chair cushions.
Define specific materials you will purchase for deck construction. Use pressure-treated lumber or cedar to construct roof areas, flooring and all sitting benches. Include metal or concrete planters in various places. Make a list of all items you will need to buy, including all deck hardware, so you can discuss the list with someone at a home improvement store.