I've been pondering this a lately. A lot of web designers suck at web design. Many suck at marketing. The majority of web designers suck at business. And pretty much all web designers suck at sales, where sales is a virtuous skill defined as the process of figuring out what's important to their clients and then recommending a solution that helps them solve their problems and achieve their goals.
If you run a small business or manage marketing for a mid sized or large business, especially B2B businesses, and you're talking to a website designer... the most important thing to you is usually figuring out how to improve lead generation for your sales team through your website.
Paul Roetzer has published a few questions you should ask any website designer you're planning on hiring:
Q1: What's your Website Grade, Mr Designer?
Q2: How will our Website be optimized for search engines?
Q3: What Website analytics will we have access to?
Q4: Will we have the ability to change our own content?
Q5: How will our website generate leads?
Paul has some good tips in his article. You should read it if you're doing a site redesign. I'd also recommend educating yourself about the website redesign process and developing an internet marketing strategy first. Way too many people relaunch their website and then expect to figure out how to generate business from it. It really needs to be done the other way around, unless you prefer to waste time and money redoing things.
You learned how to drive before you bought your own car, right?