Focus on Usability
You can have the most beautiful site in the world. Maybe you spent hours poring over images, backgrounds, color schemes and you have achieved what you think is a masterpiece of web work. That's all well and good, but it means almost nothing if you haven't put just as much thought, perhaps even more, into making your site usable. Users may be impressed at first, but they won't be fooled for long once they realize they have to put work into figuring out where you have hidden your products or services.
Usability is an issue that surrounds anything that a user will interact with. You want your TV remote to be simple and functional; you want your car to perform in an expected manner where the gas pedal corresponds to the same pedal in another car, so why would your web site be any different?
Before you jump straight into getting a website designed and created sit down and think about what your goals are for the site. What does it need to do for you? Now that you know that, try to figure out what your customers' goals will be. What do they need the site to do for them? How can you make your site interesting, pleasing, and easy to use? A customer does not want to be required to search for what they are there for. You want to make it obvious how your site works, how to get to the important things, and how to reach that end goal. Keep it simple, if you have to be complex figure out the simplest way to introduce a new user without confusing them. The easier it is for a customer to use your site to achieve their goal the more you will benefit from it.
Now that you have mapped out your usability requirements you can jump right into wrapping it all up in a pretty design. Your design should always be based around your usability features and goals and not the other way around.