The image your website design projects on the internet is one of the most important aspects you need to keep in mind at all times when choosing a website design firm or designing the website yourself. It is very important to remember that most of your visitors haven't spoken to you yet and your site will be the first impression they have of your company. If your website design lacks professionalism and/or does not reflect that of a well established company, your new prospect can easily loose confidence.
Although probably very well intentioned, most website design firms lack the experience and artistic skill to give their clients the website design that truly represents them. You'll probably quickly realize that programmers are not the best designers. That is why a website design company should have their production teams split in 2. Hire a website designer or designers who create layouts and website programmers who, when the website design is approved, codes the layout so it becomes a website. Somewhere around 60% of the work on an average website (10 pages) should be on its design (choosing the right pictures, text layouts, menus and disposition for the overall website).
Website design compatibilities:
It is fairly easy to build a basic website design these days, with all the programs that automate code; hence there are a lot of so called "professional" website design firms or website designers (the guys who do this from the computer in their apartment). But only a very small fraction of people who can actually build a website can do a good job at it. The quickest example I can give you is when building a site there is a lot to consider when programming the code.
Internet Explorer V4, V5, V6
Netscape V5, V6, V7
Internet Explorer V5, V6
Netscape V5, V6, V7
Safari, Opera, etc.
Now if the site isn't programmed in accordance with all these browsers, browser versions and operating systems, the website design will most likely display incorrectly when visited. Exp: some images might not load, some pictures might be crooked; some functions can lead to error messages, etc. And all this is but one of the multiple details that should always instinctively be kept in mind when programming and designing a site.
Website design structure:
I am sure you have been on a website before where you have felt confused and or could not find what you where looking for, and so ended up leaving and feeling frustrated. Unfortunately this happens all too often because a lot of website designers out there are very computer savvy and program the website in function of how they would like it, not keeping in mind the fact that most of the visitors will not be website designers or programmers and sometimes barely know how to open their own computer. When creating a website design, it is important to not only make sure that the visitor knows at all times what section they are visiting and can reach any section easily, but also make sure that the information in those sections is clearly displayed and not confusing.
Getting your website design project right the first time:
A lot of the business in the website design industry is generated by clients that have already paid to get a website design in the past, and after using it for a while are not satisfied with it. Eventually these clients end up calling another website design firm because they decide they need to upgrade their image so they can use their website to its full potential. But sadly for the client he ends up paying sometimes almost twice the amount because the first website design won't be used anymore and the website has to be completely redesigned from scratch. Unfortunately it is very easy to be misled and a lot a people get frustrated with their website design because there is so much they don't know about websites and the Internet in general.