What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
If you're looking to hire a freelancer or another company to make your website you probably have a very limited IT budget, so find someone who uses open source technologies whenever possible to build your site. It's expensive enough hiring someone to make your website and paying for the servers to run it, there's no point in also paying yearly or monthly licensing fees for operating systems and software that don't run any better (or sometimes worse) than free alternatives, not to mention the fact that with proprietary software it's generally harder to find other people with the knowledge to maintain and enhance such systems. In Rochester I see a lot of web development agencies who build websites using .NET and Windows for mom and pop businesses who don't know any better, and I think it's unethical.
Also, many people don't realize the difference between a web developer and a web designer. Basically, designers decide what the website is going to look like and developers write the code that makes it all work. There's plenty of overlap between the two, but usually people either specialize in one or the other. I think it's worth your money to hire both a designer and a developer to do their respective parts of the project than to hire one person who is mediocre at one aspect.