This paper reports the findings of a detailed study of Web-based systems design (WBSD) practices in Ireland based on data collected over a 3-year period (2002-2005), the objectives of which were to (1) contribute towards a richer understanding of the current "real-world" context of WBSD by characterising the profile of a typical project (team size, timeframe, nature of requirements, etc.) and identifying the key challenges, constraints, and imperatives (i.e. "mediating factors") faced by Web-based system designers, and (2) understand how those contextual parameters and mediating factors influence the activity of WBSD as regards the selection and enactment of whatever design practices are therefore engaged (i.e. the use of methods, procedures, etc.). Data was gathered through a survey which yielded 165 usable responses, and later through a series of semi-structured qualitative interviews. Using grounded theory, an explanatory conceptual framework is derived, based on an extension of the "method-in-action" model, the application of which to WBSD has not been previously investigated in depth. It is proposed that this framework of WBSD issues is valuable in a number of ways to educators, researchers, practitioners, and method engineers.