To be unique calls for being unique in such a way that your uniqueness doesn't make others appear inferior, and a uniqueness that doesn't crave for anything apart from your own thing.
– Michael Bassey Johnson

 Appearance & UI

Today we put aside all of the other elements that go into making a website, and just concentrate on what your customers see and how they see it. The second part of that statement is very important, because a website that really pops at first glance doesn't do you much good if the customers don't know how to browse around without getting lost.

There are a few critical rules that everyone should stick to, no matter how crazy the idea of the website turns out.

  • Main pages should meet the eye readily.
The customer should not have to scour the front page of your website to find out where the main pages are. Put your links in a readily accessible place and make sure they are not vague behind the other schwag that presents your site.
  • Navigation should be sensible
All this means is that your site should follow typical guidelines when it comes to getting around. Keep intimate with the standards. Provide intuitive sidebar navigation when necessary, Use the footer for resource links (ie... Terms, Shipping Policies, Legal, Support, etc...). Keep the text of internal page links to their meaning. In other words, you don't want to have a "Read More" link say something like. "Jump to".
  • Color choices can hurt as much as help.
When choosing a color theme, it rarely acceptable to blow out large portions of your site in pure bright colors. This will turn your potential customers away more quickly than anything else. When theming your site, any color is fine as long as it is muted. Small text, alerts and messages... and banner elements do the best with pure colors.
Contrast is also vital. Few sites these days use 100% contrast for large areas of the site (like black/white). If a white background, use shades of gray. If a black background, shades of off-white or lighter gray. Too many high contrasting areas can literally cause headaches, and you DON'T want that... especially when people spend so much time looking at a computer monitor these days.
  • Make the site flow
Think of the element of water. Water flows through all of it's obstacles unconcerned. Your customers should also be unconcerned as they browse. Nothing should raise their blood pressure (except the excitement prior to purchasing something they really want). Moving around your site should not be intimidating, like they are going to buy something accidentally, or click a link that makes them fear a virus.
Customers are more cautious, more sensitive these days. Leaving too much open to question is not recommended.
  • Get to the point
If your site attracts visitors which like to poke around for a while before getting back to business, so much the better. However, you don't want to design your site with this in mind. A website should draw customers to the goal, whether it's purchasing products, a service, or information to be distributed.
To set the site up properly, the goal is the primary target, with alternative resources easily at their disposal. A visual example of this would be a customer viewing a product, with a list of related products within easy clickable reach.

Time is a comodity in a stressful life. Busy schedules and tight deadlines rule the population. In the World of Web, you can't make them wait, but you can always give them options.