Look for reputable designers. There are hundreds of different builders out there and every single one has a different history and reputation within the community. If you take the time to check out all of the available designers, you should have no trouble finding the best in the industry.
The basic idea behind the ranch style is that the major room areas in the house flow one into the other, rather than being small divided-up spaces as in other architectural styles. The access from the attached garage flows into the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living area, and to the bedrooms. The feeling of a ranch style house is one of openness and sweeping - sweeping vistas of the out-of-doors through picture windows and sliding glass panels, which open onto patios or porches where much summer living takes place.
Plan your budget accordingly so that you don't get your hopes too high or settle for less than you deserve. That is, plan your budget based on what you can afford. If a half-million dollar home is in your dreams, make sure you can finance it - visit your accountant and bank manager beforehand so you know what budget you can realistically work with.
Choosing a home design is all about determining how much space you need. You can find modern home plans in a variety of shapes and sizes. This means that you can get the space that you need while also getting the design that you enjoy, no matter what that might be. The goal of building your home, after all, is to get the dream home that you always wanted. Hiring an architect will depend on a few things.