Jeffrey Zeldman (A List Apart) offers these tips for web designers:
Think about the audience first.
Give each site a personal voice and a real point of view. The audience will connect with that.
Do what’s actually needed. Don’t do things simply because you can.
Be entertaining. Inducing boredom is not a plan for growth.
In most cases, use Web standards and test your work at http://validator.w3.org/ .
If you think you know all the answers, you’re wrong.
If you’re doing what you did last year, you’re dead.
Test your site—not just on multiple browsers and platforms, but on people. Your interface is rarely as transparent as you think. But don’t be a slave to test results, either. Trust your instincts. Balance them against test results. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Get half the fee up front.