James this is so on the money.
I’ve never been a fan of the multiple visual design options strategy. At least not for any kind of web/interface design.
It’s often an expectation of clients who believe that design is nothing more than how something looks. And it’s often the path of designers who fail to educate their clients that design choices should rarely be made on their subjective aesthetic preferences alone.
I’ve found that early in a designer’s career they may be asked to present multiple visual design options more often, partly because the clients has less trust in them that they’ll get it in the right direction with one crack. And also because the designer has less faith in him/herself!
As a designer grows their skills, experience, and reputation, that trust grows as well. And the more is grows, the more often you will get it right on that first try. (Of course good research helps a lot too!). Multiple design directions then fall by the wayside.