Don’t hire designers.
Big companies hire big-shot web design agencies and depend on them for right guidance and respect.
I have been listening closely to some agencies recently and while they may have strategies of Discovery to find out what a company needs, the implementation of good design is missing.
Design in its broad sense is about organizing thinking. A great piece of fine art is evidence of deep organizational thought, even if it might not seem so to the casual observer. Same with furniture, same with architecture, dance or the culinary arts.
So it should be with websites, but not so. People in the web development world often work without formal design training. Without deep design training one cannot build a simple coherent and beautiful website for a big company. Or any company. These websites are hard to do. Executives at good companies depend on professional web designers, but if the result is not immediately comprehensible, the designers are to blame.
A good clue is to look at the websites of the designers. Are they exciting, clear, navigable? Are they populated with industry buzzwords?
Look at their logo, always the acid test for anyone calling themselves a designer. Good logos are hard to do. If their logo sucks, they are missing key design chops, and will not magically manifest them on your six or seven figure job.
The flip side of this is in the writing. As you point out, meaningless phrases, vacant promises, or fuzzy thinking is right there, on Page One.
If Design and Writing are not winning your attention and comprehension, don’t take another Discovery meeting and don’t write any checks.
They will bounce back at you. Don’t hire designers who don’t understand good writing and don’t hire writers who don’t understand good design.
The image you get, when looking at your website is critical. It should do its job on an emotional level, and hold one’s attention, that most precious, commodity in the online world.
It’s time for clients to start trusting their gut a little more before paying top dollar for web design. Remember: Websites should be common sense.