Web Design has become a huge asset to business in the last 10 years. People are now saying "What is your web address?", instead of asking if you even have a website, it is pretty much expected if you own a business. And if you respond that you don't have a website, they look at you like you are from another planet!
Yet, there are people and small business owners out there that still don't realize the full benefits of a website for their business. It is much more personable than a 2 x 3.5 business card that has a cute little logo and very little text, which is usually just contact info. But the biggest benefit is that you now have given a potential customer or client the ability to explore you and your business in the comfort of their very own home. They can now bookmark you, forward your web address to their friends and family, and keep coming back for more and more. It is instant marketing!
Once you decide you need a website, where do you find a good web designer?
Choosing a web designer is kinda like shopping for a car. Sure you can find a cheap car but more than likely it will be 20 years old. It will run, and get you from A to B, but you can't expect it to really turn any heads. It's the same with a website, there are still people out there coding websites like they were in the early 90s when the web really started to take off. But the problem with that is it is now 2011 and those sites are very retro.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are programmers, and then there are designers, and they are two different animals. Programmers are left brain dominate, focusing strictly on coding, not too concerned about the visual aesthetics of it all. These are the people you go to if you want a super advanced feature on your site, or even if you want a custom software built for the site.
Sure they can build a site but it probably won't look modern or be very creative in general. This is where the designers come in, they are the artist, the right brain people. They focus primarily on the visual impact and user experience. Now if you can afford both a programmer and a designer then you can have both of the two worlds. But unfortunately most small business don't have a budget for that. So you have to choose one or the other. In some cases you can find one person that has a balance between the two, but that is a rare occasion.
To be successful you need to turn some heads! Give a good impression, look professional. And it all starts with your website.