Location is everything
Above the fold is gold. In the newspaper industry important stories are placed on the top half of the page - this is known as 'above the fold'. This is prime real estate because it's where readers first look. Use this approach when designing your website. Put your eye-grabbing content at the top. Don't eat up the top of the page with ads and graphics which force your visitors to scroll down the window to find out what you have to say.
Less is more
'Less is more' are words to live by. Since you only have a few seconds to capture a user's interest don't waste any of them with bloated pages that take too long to load. Potential visitors will just hit 'cancel' and move on to the next guy. Keep in mind that not everyone has a high-speed internet connection. Try to keep the file size at the bare minimum. That may mean you have to lose that 'really cool' graphic or flash intro - but ask yourself - does it add to what you are saying or is it just eye candy? Honestly, no one cares how long you worked on the razzle-dazzle - they just want to find the answer to their problem. Is the solution really going to be found in your photoshop masterpiece? If not, ditch it.
Make it easy for your visitors to find their way around by keeping navigation menus in the same place from page to page. The most common places are a vertical strip at the top left or a horizontal bar at or near the top of the page. Familiarity make users feel at ease, don't make them guess what to do with each page they load. The same goes for link colors - use the same color and style for links throughout your website so they know what is a link and what is not.
Break it up
Divide your content into logical blocks. Use headlines, subheadlines and paragraphs to guide your users through your copy. Nobody wants to fight their way through a big, grey wall of text. Cut it into bite-size pieces readers can digest.