Everybody thinks they can design. If they really put their minds to it, maybe they could. Here is what sets a truly good designer apart from the crowd.
Although there are a handful of people that are naturally gifted at design, the rest of us have to really work at it. One would assume that good design means a lot of education, experience, and knowledge. But really those only add to a good design and are not required by it. What good design really comes down to is editing and refinement.
Some people I've worked for want everything on their site, Big Bold Colorful Titles, Bright Images, Text in ALL CAPS, and the list goes on. I try to convince them otherwise, but remember they know what is best, because of course that's why they hired a professional designer. I do what they ask, and every time they ask me why it looks bad, why it looks cluttered, and why the things that aren't supposed to stand out, stand out!
The reason behind that is, good design is simple. Even a well designed website that appears complex, is truly simple in nature.
When you have everything important in Bright Red Text, it becomes less important. When you have all your Images or Text Flashing "Click Here", people do the opposite. The way to have people navigate the way you want them to, is not to keep adding more and more, its to strip it all down and design easy to navigate options.
My first design is never my final design. Is it because I'm not a good designer, maybe. I like to think that I'm improving on my first initial ideas. The best ideas are ones that have been refined and processed. Don't get discouraged if your first idea doesn't turn out that great, go back and change something, keep tweaking it into something amazing.
Don't always depend on yourself for constructive input. Ask around to friends, family, and co-workers. Take what they say into consideration, because your ideas aren't always right or the best for your client.
Remember edit, edit, edit.