Assemble a Web site development plan that is integrated with your overall marketing processes. The content should be consistent with offline materials; graphics/images don't have to be identical with traditional media, but should be consistent with your overall branding, style guide, usage of colors, etc.
Hire a Web site design firm that understands your market position. Find one that won't get "geek crazy" – meaning they are so in love with their own design capabilities, your site gets bogged down with graphics, plug ins, GIF garbage, etc. But, conversely, check your ego at door when you work with your design firm – we've see so many good Web site designs ruined by clients who can't or won't listen to sound advice.
Pay attention to "load times," how long it takes a Web site to load on an industry-average 56 KBPS modem. If it's more than 12-18 seconds you may experience "click of death" – site doesn't load quickly and surfer is gone. Of course, if you're targeting broadband customers who are reaching your site via ISDN or DSL, then you can build a site that incorporates multimedia-ready content that may include streaming audio or video, or Shockwave or Flash capabilities. Go ahead and let those digital geeks get carried away with cutting edge content presentation.
Keep it simple – make your site easy to move around in. Build a menu structure that is consistent with industry standards: local menus (for a page or section) on left and global menus (overall site navigation) at top and/or bottom of each page. Keep as much information "above fold" (above cutoff point at bottom of a monitor); don't make people use horizontal scroll bars unless absolutely necessary.
Inculcate "digital speed" into your overall site design. Your clients/customers should be able to get to their desired area of your site within one or two mouse clicks; they will quickly get frustrated if they have to click through multiple menus to find information they are seeking.
Develop content that is Web enabled. People don't read Web site content like they do offline media. Keep your paragraphs short (no more than two to three sentences), build in white space with your content, and include links in your pages. Don't try to tell your whole marketing story on your site – get people to call you (hello telephone still works!), e-mail you, or fill out a profile form.