I'm in the middle of deciding where to apply to graduate school. Roughly, the three stages are
Beginning: Ask professors where to apply, generate large list based on all of their recommendations.
Middle: Stare at the websites of relevant institutions, hoping for insight.
End: Buy a dart-board.
What currently irks me is the way some departments are less than forthcoming about who is exactly on their faculty. Stanford, in particular, lists everyone you could possibly associate with the department on the website, and you have to click on individual links to find out that they are emeritus or better yet, "former faculty," having moved on to a job at another institution.
Update: Does Stanford read my blog? Either that, or I'm illiterate (this is a very real possibility). I returned to their website today, and saw that they're now listing the former faculty so that you needn't look at the personal websites. Also, philosophy placement records are depressing.