If you're an author debating about whether you need a website or not, paranormal author Cheynne McCray has a blog post over at Fangs, Fur and Fey that might help. She's collected a sampling of agent comments about how a potential client's website affects his or her chances of getting an agent.
So should you or shouldn't you? The overall consensus seems to be yes - just don't make it look slapdash or unprofessional, or you may do more harm than good - and keep all negative comments (about anything) to yourself. Agents apparently don't like Doug and Wendy Whiner any more than anyone else does - unless they're on Saturday Night Live and we can laugh our butts off at them.
Missouri Writers might want to consider the class at the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference 2008 that helps you design your own website on the spot. Regardless, you might want to buy your domain name even before you're ready to get your website up and running.
You never know who shares your name and might want it for his or her very own. There's also lots of great advice on the web for how to get started designing a website.
Also, check out authors who write in your genre or writing area. Many link to their web design companies. At the very least, you can see what looks professional and what looks like Austin Powers designed it - and create your own accordingly.