Principles of Web Design
Good Web design starts with good planning.
Developing a successful web site starts with planning the content and navigation of your site. Even if you do not know the language of web design, HTML, you can still create a good web site. Most new web masters start with learning HTML. They should start with learning to plan content. Knowledge of the HTML language is simply not as important as you might think. There are a number of good design tools that allow you to design a perfect web page with minimal exposure to HTML. What you do need is good skills in providing quality content. Without content your web site may get an "AAAAH Nice page", but nobody will ever come back to it.
Even if your graphics skills are not what they should be, you can still make a nice web page. A web page with good content, but lousy graphical design will still attract visitors. You are here reading this, are you not. As long as the content is good, your visitors will appreciate your efforts. Develop your content first. Later on when your web site is finished, and you have some time to spend on improving your page layout, go ahead improve the look. But realize, that promoting your web site is also going to take a lot of your time so, later may have to be a lot later. I never seem to get around to improving my web sites, as there is always a new one on the planning board.
So how do you plan the content ?
Your content will primarily be dictated by the purpose of your site. If your site aims to sell a single item, you may have to plan your site content so it attracts visitors that might be interested in your merchandise. If your site aims to convey a message, the content should attract the audience. Don't just try to sell your item or convey your message. Try to attract the right audience first and then try to capture them. After you captured their attention, you will have all the time you want to either close the sale or to bring your message across.
Try to attract possible leads and then try to interest them enough so they come back again and again. If possible, make them interested enough that they are willing to let you know they are interested. If that is not successful, offer them something for free in return for their email address. That way you can encourage them to come back to your site, or convey your message, by email.
The easiest way to get interesting content, is when you can use your own talent and your own experience to provide material for your web site. Think what know-how you have. Something that can make your web site unique. Something that you can use to distinguish your web site from those of your competitors.
Browse around for a web site layout that you really like.
After you decided on the content, you have to decide on how to present it. That may look like it can be a difficult decision but it does not have to be. Just browse around on the Internet for a web site layout that you really like. Make sure that your taste in web design is not too different from what your audience might like. If you find a design, just use it as the basis of your design. Don't make it exactly the same without asking permission from the designer, use it as a starting point only.