More than Website Design - The unfortunate stereotype that designers have put themselves into is that a designers job is to create art, to create something of beauty. As if everything in the world needs to be high art. This notion leads to bad blood. Obstinate designers refusing to service the functions of the project in favor of the form.
Design for the sake of design is a falsehood when it comes to internet marketing and just about everything.
Simply put, design is not art, and the only good design is one that serves it’s function just as well as it serves its form. Designers love to think that design is for the sake of beauty, but this idea gets them into trouble. Beauty is fine, but it has to mean business.
Call to Action
Aside from Graphic elements and good looks, every web site is created for a reason. Online stores, obviously, exist to sell products, but many small business sites don't actually incorporate ecommerce features. These "brochure sites" don't just exist to provide information; they are created in the hopes of eliciting a specific reaction from the visitor. It may be a phone call for more information, or generating a lead by filling out an online form. Often, new designers focus so much on things like graphics and page layout that they forget to tell the site's visitors what they want them to do.
It's important that a web designer understand the goals of the web site, and structure the site in a way that encourages visitors to take that action.
Sites built to generate sales calls should feature the company phone number prominently on every page, not just buried on a contact page. If the goal is to have visitors fill out a form, then the link to that form should be the most "clickable" element on the page.
Visitors are more likely to do what you want if you give them some direction, and web site owners are much happier when their web site generates real leads and sales - not just page views.
Beauty is more than ski deep
Again, a web site can have all of the problems above, yet still look fantastic. That's why these mistakes can go unnoticed by clients and newer professionals. They may not be apparent until the site has been live for some time, and clients begin to complain about poor search engine performance, or lack of conversions, or an important customer who can't view the site properly. -TOD