This is my simple design strategy to create a website with great usability.
Initial planning of the design and it function is the foremost key and that will determine if it can be used.
Think about these steps and don’t rush to get the project done.
First, figure out who will see the site. Will it be just you or your family and friends, business associates or casual web surfers? That will give you parameters for the acceptable styles of colors, music, navigation, and functionality.
Second, Think about how big will your site needs to be. Do you need only a main page or do you need secondary pages, a database or forms? Will you have web ads running on your site? Think about the costs from these details.
Fourth, the feel and impression of your site influences a visitor in seconds. How you want the site to look and “feel” to a visitor? Is your site inviting the right visitors by being tailored to their mindsets? Does your design for navigation hinder a visitor or help them? Do you want to use crazy graphics, unusual type fonts and loud colors? If you are a skateboarding site, that might be fine. But if you are a business site, a more muted color pallet and standard buttons for navigation would be better since your site needs to be tailored to the conformity and styling of the industry you want to do business with.
Fifth, think about offering the visitor something for spending time on your site. It could be a free screensaver, a small Flash game, some wallpaper, or a tutorial, but make it an appropriate item for the type of the site classification.
Sixth, once you have the original home page built, save it and then build at least 2 more slightly different versions of your home page. As you switch between the styling changes, you will begin to see how little changes can affect the tone and create a change of style. This may be as simple as a small tone shift in the color pallet used, or a different font type or size but you will see the difference and see what draws the visitor’s eye focus and then work from that point.
Seventh, have a number of people review the site and be honest with you. Then consider what they say and add it in to your perceptions.