One of the best pieces of advice that I can give anyone looking to acquire or build a website for their business is to take the time to learn a little about where the web is trending in terms of look, feel, and usability. I’m constantly amazed at the large number of websites out there that look and feel like they came straight out of the way-back machine (circa 1995-1998). What’s even more disturbing is that many of them were built in the last couple of years by web design companies who haven’t seemed to noticed that “what works” (and more importantly for business, “what sells”) has changed since 1998.
I guess what I’m saying in a nutshell is, give sites that just feel “better” a longer look and take notice of what makes them different. I think what you’ll find is that “modern” sites have a design aesthetic that feels clean, uncluttered and polished (as opposed to cramped, crammed and multi-colored). They have navigation that is user friendly and they get their message across quickly and succinctly.
If you can understand exactly what it is that you like about those sites you think are “better”, you can then find a designer who specializes in current design styles or at the very least have a better idea of what works and sells on today’s web.