There are many people on the internet today presenting themselves as Web Designers capable of creating a Web Presence for you for astronomically cheap prices. While I agree, price points for web design need to take smaller companies and budgets into account, a "Cheap" web design can be very costly.
Website design is far more than creating an impressive visual impact and top loading the website with bandwidth draining flash, banners, rollovers and poorly optimized graphics.
True Web Design only begins at the visual impact.
Every word on your website needs to serve a purpose. A professional copywriter knows that first and foremost, your content needs to inform your potential customers as to why you are the company they want to work with. This is how you convert potential customers to active customers. In addition, this text needs to be professionally crafted in such a way that search engines such as Google, Bing, MSN, Yahoo, etc. finds your website and lists it in the proper context.
Original, creative templates that set your website apart from the rest is another critical aspect of Web Design. A professional web designer can create not only a template and site design with high visual impact, but one that serves the primary goal of informing the customer of why your company is the best at what you do. A pretty website that has poor and inelegant navigation, dead links and substandard copywriting is worse than no website at all. A Web Design firm that does not take the effort to fully understand not only your business goals but your business model and purpose can not and will not create the Web Presence you deserve.
Search Engine Optimization is both an art and a science. Understanding how the big search engines rank web sites and keeping up with the constant changes in their analytics is critical to keeping you web site ranking higher than your competition. A web site that can not be found by your potential clients is just like not having a website at all.
While a top notch professional web design firm may cost you more initially, the end result of having a visually stunning, Search Engine Optimized, user friendly and content rich website will pay for itself many times over. Do not fall victim to attractive price points from non professional firms. Do your research, understand what you are and are not paying for and insure that the design firm you choose understands what your goals are having having a professional Web Presence.
Web Design is an art, and top quality Web Designers, Graphic Designers and Copywriters are prized possessions who's value is set by the marketplace as higher than the average amateur designer. Only you can decide if your business describes the very best Web Presence. In the end, it is usually a simple decision.