In my technology consulting engagements the first step is to verify that there is some sort of web strategy in place that will help prioritize requirements and define budgetary constraints. If it is not clear how the website(s) fits in with the client's overall business objectives, how are they to determine what capabilities they should be looking for and how much investment they can justify? Stating that the website needs to be more attractive is not enough. You need to know what business activities the websites should support and how. Usually my clients have done most of this work before hiring me, but, when they don't, I need to scramble a bit to help establish enough of a strategy to move forward
The next time I am in a situation where remedial web strategy work is needed, I will insist that the client purchase, read, and apply J. Boye's new report Best Practices for Creating a Web Strategy. In writing the report, Dorthe Jesperson and Peter Nissen interviewed 19 organizations across several industry verticals including manufacturing, healthcare, and government. They also draw on experience from years of working with J. Boye community of practices. The result is a critical resource for developing a successful web strategy — one that attracts budget for critical activities and gives grounds to reject requests that do not align with the company goals.
If you find yourself grappling with these issues, I strongly recommend that you purchase Best Practices for Creating a Web Strategy.