Your websites should adhere to the following standards:
1. Clean easy to update design/structure.
Just a few short years ago the web was full of dancing mice, spinning globes and animated construction workers; things have now changed where design principles are now actually put to good use ... amazing! :)
The problem that we find now with many websites, is that the design is not flexible. Websites constantly change, so if you find that putting in a new navigation button is going to take a lot of work, you have to reconsider your design. You should be able to freely and add and remove elements from your pages with little to no trouble - that only makes sense.
2. Good usability in the design - and all that implies.
Usability is one of the new buzzwords that people like to use, but what does it mean? In a nutshell, usability is referring to (in web design) how easy someone can get around your website ... how usable is it. If someone has to 'hunt' for your 'home' link or your contact information, then you have a usability problem with your web design.
3. Fast loading 'light' web pages.
This is one of the oldest rules in the web design book! People will leave your website in a flash if your website takes over 10 seconds to load on a 56k modem. That means your web pages have to be less than 60k - images and all.
Being that this is such an old rule of web design, you would think everyone would keep their pages light, right? Wrong, just take a look around and it's not hard to find 250k Flash websites! This checklist is just a reminder of what we all know; sometimes in the excitement of building our masterpieces, we can forget ... so check the checklist! :)
4. Intelligent use of technology - using Flash when it makes sense not because you want a 'cool' intro!
I think this is obvious to most people. All the technology used to build websites are just tools; we use a screwdriver when we need to, not because we want to. (Of course, I've been known to hammer nails with a screwdriver and saw wood with a steak knife). The point is that you need to let the goal of the website dictate what technology you are going to use, and not what the flavor of the month happens to be at the time.
5. The websites' ability to convey the meaning/message of the website quickly if not instantly.
The one thing that gets on my nerves when I'm surfing the web, is when I come to a web page where I can't figure out what the website is about. (Ok, maybe pop-up windows are worse, but this still ticks me off!) Typically, these turn out to be what I would call 'artsy' websites, where the web design is pleasing to the eye, but I have to 'dig' to get the point of the website.
Make sure that your visitors can easily know what's going on (and why) when they get to you, otherwise you won't be conveying your message too well because people will just be leaving your website.