A great way to think about your company website is to consider it as a member of staff. Bear with me on this: the analogy works. For a sole trader, the website is an important asset but obviously it’s not as important as the business owner. However, in a large company, the website is probably more important than any single employee, as evidenced by the panic caused by the website being down compared to someone being off work for a day. Presumably, therefore, there’s a crossing point where the website is about as important as any one employee, and that’s probably quite a small sized company.
So I’d argue that if you’re in a business with anything more than a small handful of employees, you should be treating the website with the sort of investment associated with a person. That would mean a website design budget, analogous to a recruitment fee; a maintenance budget, analogous to a salary; and an improvement budget, analogous to staff training. I’d bet that many companies are investing less in their website than they would do in a junior employee.
In return, your website can work really hard for you. It can make sales presentations around the clock, to people who might not want to meet you (yet) or who might be expensive to meet. It can answer questions from prospects and customers (have you got an FAQ page?). And it can quietly supply product information which in the past you’d have needed to employ someone to mail out.
But don’t expect it to do this well, for free.