Don't Break Anything!
Your home page has to work when visitors load it.
You may have the coolest website ever, but don't expect visitors to download a plug-in just to view it.
Yes, you do want the page to look good, but avoid advanced technologies unless you're specifically marketing to a segment sure to have all the latest goodies installed.
That's a pretty small segment of the consumer audience. The bulk of your visitors just want to see a page that loads fast, looks attractive, and has useful information. That's not too hard - if you finish these three tasks:
- Select good colors: Good color combinations give contrast and emphasis to important points. Avoid red/green combinations; they cause problems for colorblind visitors. Standard link colors make navigation easier.
- Use images wisely: Make sure the images actually advance the purpose of your site. Most visitors want to read information, not read pretty pictures that increase download time unnecessarily. Optimize your images for free with GIFBot before you post them.
- Correct errors: Even simple HTML coding errors can break your page: forget to close a TABLE tag and Netscape may not display the table at all! Validate your HTML code with NetMechanic's HTML Toolbox. It will alert you to code problems and even correct your code for you.
Beginning webmasters spend a lot of energy trying to attract visitors. Unfortunately, some don't consider what visitors see once they get to the site. Yes, you certainly want to invite visitors to your site, but more importantly, you want them to stay - and keep coming back.
Your home page is your front door. Make it as useful and inviting as possible.