In this paper we discuss the practical usefulness of nonlinear dynamical analysis for the design of a planar cable-supported beam: we refer to a feasible case, assuming the value of the parameters corresponding to a realistic pedestrian footbridge. We consider a one degree of freedom model, obtained by the classical Galerkin reduction technique: the ensuing ordinary differential equation has both quadratic and cubic terms, due to geometric nonlinearities. Extensive numerical simulations are performed: they point out that this model, in spite of its apparent simplicity, is able to highlight the complex dynamics of the cable-supported beam, describing several common and uncommon nonlinear phenomena. Each of them is interpreted in terms of oscillations of the considered mechanical system; we explain the relevance of all the obtained results in the design of the examined structure under steady loads as wind and pedestrians, but also under transient phenomena as earthquake and gust; the ensuing issues, the most dangerous ranges and also the sensibility to perturbations are discussed in detail. In particular we deal with the importance, for an engineering design, of a careful interpretation of: isola bifurcation, transition to chaos both by period doubling cascade and reverse boundary crisis, multistability with coexistence of chaotic and periodic attractors, fractal basins boundaries, erosion of immediate basins, interrupted sequence of period doubling bifurcations. Also the effects of secondary attractors are analyzed, and it is shown that in general they cannot be neglected even if their range of existence is very small. We underline that all these investigations are performed choosing the excitation frequency far from resonances in order to alert the designer that the system dynamics may be complex independently of the activation mechanism due to resonance.