Many companies start their web project with contacting a web or graphic designer. This is far from the best way to go about it!
You should start your project well before you go into the phase of actually getting it developed. There are THOUSANDS of websites out there in your field, if not MILLIONS, an unplanned website is not going to be successful. Ultimately a website is a sales tool
Your website on some level or another is trying to convince people to do, buy, or think something.
Convince them of an ideal, or thought
Sell a service
Convince them your site is worth visiting (Ads & Links)
And with this strategy...
"If you fail to plan... you plan to fail"
So how do you do make sure your website is a successful sales tool?
First and for-most you have to figure out what your website is selling
After you figure out what your website is selling, you can begin thinking of how to market it. As I mentioned earlier, a web page that simply spews information about your company is going to be ho-hum unless you are in the most exciting of industries, in which case you probably don't need a website.
Usually my first step is to decide if the site needs to be found by people searching on search engines. This seems odd, because almost all people want traffic from search engines... However not all sites have content people would search for. For example, the famous tuckermax.com, very few people are going to stumble upon the site searching for "Funny drunk stories" (or whatever would pull the site up). It is more word of mouth. If you are going to focus on search engine traffic, start planning the following
The #1 Key phrase that you want search engines to refer to your site
Secondary keywords that are also important
Start to write and massage your copy
Start including the key phrase and words into the copy, with out it sounding wordy
After Search Engines... Decide what your webpage is going to offer
Think about all the webpages YOU go to. What do they offer? Again I doubt you would visit joesplumbing.com on a regular biases if it just described his hours and phone number.
How-ever, if joesplumbing.com offered weekly tips on how to solve small plumbing problems... you might go there quite often.
Some may think that this would actually hurt his business, but I disagree greatly. Those who are actively searching for free plumbing solutions will find it on someone's website, if not Joe's. Through posting these tips, he is already establishing himself as an expert. Further, if the plumbing tips don't solve the users problem, who will they most likely call? Who would they recommend to others?
In most cases, that's right... Joe.
So use your knowledge and skills, the more you help people and give them reason to visit your site, the more customers and traffic you will get.