I'll take on the first question - yes, we ask LOTS of questions. Some examples: we ask for a short list of the sites they consider to be their competitors, with the client's comments about what they like and dislike about each.
We ask for a similar, short list of their favorite sites in any field at all (not just their own market), also with comments about what they like, and why it's a favorite of theirs.
We talk about who their target audience is, and we do this as precisely as possible. If this is a makeover and not a brand new site, we ask for server logs, and any other kind of measures they have. We ask for marketing plans they've already drawn up, what they consider to be their market position and their unique selling points within that market.
We ask very open ended questions about what kind of effect they want the site to create. We get very specific about what kind(s) of response the site hopes to elicit.
If it's a brand new company and this kind of homework has yet to be done, then we offer that research as an additional service.
In short, we work very hard to get inside their company's culture as fast as possible, and learn what they already know about how they fit in their market -- or how they hope to fit in if they are a start-up.
We also pick up on any personal preferences they may have and use this initial period to establish practical and measurable standards for what will be considered a "successful" website.