You only need four things (besides content) to get started: the name of the site, an e-mail address (for contact purposes), agreement on who owns the site (for the copyright statement), and the path where you'll place the site in your local computer.
The first and best advice I ever got was that the website on the server should be replicated identically on your computer. I'd never trust the server to store my only copy, and you'll want to do lots of testing and demonstrating with your local machine. That means internal links will be relative (../../).
If you want to find out if a name is available as a domain name, go to get-a-name.com and see if it's taken or not.