What should I have done to save the money I wasted?
You and your company really want a professional website. The visions of dollars signs are rolling around in your melon as the beautiful and usable new website will bring in bus loads of new customers. Then it turns into a nightmare. What happened? The web designers are designing what I want. I think the site is ugly.
Websites and Ice Cream
You select a web design firm because they came highly recommended. How is their portfolio? You love their work right? WHAT, you didn’t bother to check out their work? Believe it or not this happens more than you’d think. All web design companies aren’t the same, and that’s a good thing. I’ve said for years that Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream makes 31 flavors for a reason, not everybody likes vanilla. You need to find a company that matches your taste. You wouldn’t want a dark site if your selling certain items or services. That doesn’t mean dark sites are bad, they just lend themselves better to certain things. If you want a nice bright soft site, dark colors may not be your best option. So why would you hire a company who’s designs for the last 3 years have all been dark? Your shouldn’t.
Why did you hire a professional company? You’re not a very artistic type, not good with colors, etc. Then why do you act like an art director? Trust the web designer with color combinations. They probably have a good idea what would make pleasing colors combinations. Your web designer wants a great looking site as much as you do and they have years of experience. If this still isn’t working, maybe the previous paragraph about viewing their portfolio applies to you.
In the end both the client and designer need to work as a team to reach the best possible outcome. The client will be happy with a great site that performs well on the search engines and brings in business. The design company will be happy with a great showpiece that will attract other business.