Sound familiar? I did my fair share of time doing freelance and I know what it is like to work with small budget companies. Fortunately I am done with those days, but unfortunately I can't say the same for the majority of the internet...
Judging by the amount of crap out there it seems that most companies do not value their website. They see it as a burden, or at least it comes across that way.
A website is your first impression for many of your potential clients, therefor your website should be the best possible representation of yourself. Think about this, would you dress in the same manner that your website was put together? Would you throw on a ratty tee that you got from Goodwill for your sales pitch? Don't get me wrong, I love Goodwill just as much as the next person and I enjoy a relaxed dress code, but there is a difference between being relaxed and being sloppy. Companies will spend money on their suits, on making their lobby comfortable and contemporary, and on their big expensive building... but really, how many clients are going to see you or your building before they check out your website? By the time they are in the lobby (if they get that far) their first impression has already been made.
I think companies make two major mistakes:
1. They don't budget enough for their website. This usually ends up in corner cutting which results in a crappy template site that needs to be completely redone the following year. Lesson: Spend the money and do it right the first time.
2. Companies ask for more than they can afford. They try to make their site large and have all these bells and whistles that they don't need. If you are stuck with a small budget then make a small site. Get rid of the clutter, get rid of the paragraphs of vague mission statements with even more vague lists of services. I would much rather see a 1 page website that is well laid out than to have someone use a template to make ten pages of crap. Treat it as a resume. Include your logo, your purpose, your contact information, and a call to action. Thats it.
Alright, I am done ranting... for now.