I`m happy to respond to this one! I was parousing the web for a web designer recently, played around with the "doityourselfer" sites. (Yuck, never as easy as they say) Then started looking into local directories of web designers so that I knew I`d be able to meet with the person to explain what I wanted. The biggest factor in deciding who to use is hands down - my initial split second opinion/impression of their very own website. I know it sounds cheezy, but I cannot trust my image to someone who`s not concerned with their own. I also check out their clients page and see some examples, if they all look like cookiecutter replicas of each other, he`s out. A website has to be the beginning of the sales process for me. It has to invite the user and welcome them to my business, make them want to move forward with me. I don`t care for all the flash and animation -- Personally I usually cick the "skip" button on these when I get to them.
Thats my input, hope it helps.
S. - New York
This, in addition to pricing structure, is to me right on the money.