Fast, Good, or Cheap. Pick two. That's the Web designer holy triangle. In most, if not all cases, you can't have it all. The majority of clients don't understand this and most designers don't like to accept it, but both have had to deal with the reality of it. Getting all 3 just isn't practical... or is it?
Web design is a business, and in business time is money. If you choose fast and cheap, a designer will hammer out something barely meeting your functionality requirements with less than a passing thought to the design. If you choose good and cheap, a designer will make sure you get exactly what you ask for and more, but you will probably have to wait in line behind other higher paying contracts. If you choose good and fast, its going to cost you, but they will put their everything into it and work around the clock to meet your expectations.
Money talks and you get what you pay for.
The problem is that there's not much money to go around lately. To lock down a contract these days, you almost have to offer all 3, or at least reach a midway point on them. My first rule of business = Stay in business.
As a designer I give the rest of my community this advice:
With the economy the way it is right now, and with times as tight as these, you need to prove to your clients and/or employer that you are striving to deliver on all 3. If you don't, they may just find another designer more desperate than you. If you loose that contract or job, there may not be another one around the corner for a while.
I can't stress how important staying motivated and being better than the competition is in the next coming months. Q1 is going to be lean. Make sure you survive it. Use the triangle as less of a rule and more of a suggestion.