1. Write down a very clear description of the purpose of the website before you begin any work on it.
Most people skip this step because they think it's obvious, but trust me, it's important and your main purpose will make a HUGE difference in how it should be coded.
2. Stay objective.
I know it's tempting to fall madly in love with your new virtual 'baby', especially if you built pieces of it yourself. But beware … On that path there be dragons.
I once had a client who built her own website by herself. She was very proud of her baby, although she was not converting very well and she was getting very few clients from it.
I showed her what needed to be done to fix her conversion problem, but in the end she lost at least $ 22,000 worth of new business because she was too close to the project.
3. Decide early if it's important to get free search engine traffic.
If it is important to get free traffic, then your designer / developer needs to know that as early as possible, as it will affect how they code the website.
4. Be prepared to work a bit.
I know, everyone says that building a website is a must and it will really help your business, but the real truth is that you get out of a website exponentially how much you put into it.
If you spend 1 hour getting it up, do not expect that anyone who calls your number will trust you yet.
5. Do some homework.
In my opinion, most of the unfortunate websites out there are due to the website owner not being educated enough to know what to ask or how to chose the right people to work on the site.
You do not need to learn HTML or PHP, but spending some time learning to differentiate between different kinds of websites and what is required to make them work will be time well spent.
6. Do not spend 80% of your time tweaking the design.
Design is important as long as it looks clean, professional and easy to follow, then let it go. Trust your designer's eye to make everything else work the way it should and go work on the content.
7. Pick a good designer / developer.
Learn what the difference is between a graphics designer, a developer and a programmer (hint: there are multiple answers depending on who you ask).