The most important rule of the web is to communicate information quickly and in a way that it is easy to understand, you have very little time to capture the attention of a potential client, this does not mean that you need to fill your website with animations and bright colours, but it does mean that the design of your website has to communicate clearly in a way that most people will understand. This is fundamental for your success in Internet.
A successful design firstly has to be easy to read, with body text large enough to be easily read. The graphics and photographs have to be of good quality and not take too much time to display, it needs to be instant. Backgrounds should be attractive but not distract the viewer from the important information.
The style of the website has to stick in the mind of the user so that the products or services (reference information or news) has an opportunity to do the same. Some styles of website drive users away and some attract, success is in knowing the difference. The navigation of the website has to be obvious and easy to use so that information is easy to find. The content has to be of quality and informative, well written and to drive the user towards a goal, be it sales, readable news or reference material.