Tips for home page design:
KISS: As in most fields, the ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ principle applies here. You don’t want to present people with a dizzying array of options, complex pictures, or tons of information right away. Instead, keep the amount of main links on your homepage to a minimum (10 at MOST!), and try to leave some ‘negative space’ (where there is no content) in well-placed areas so it’s not too busy.
Offload Information: Instead of putting a whole page’s worth of text on a front page, introducing yourself or your organization, put it in an ‘About’ section on another page, and put a link on the front page to that page. You’ll notice that most corporate web designs includes a minimal amount of text describing the company; focus on your product, or something else more important.
Keep it Updated: People won’t re-visit your site if there’s never anything new on it (unless it’s loaded with tons of important and library-worthy information…). Make sure you have some part of your home page that changes periodically; I usually try to have a ‘news’ section on the front page so people can see that things are happening within the website. This will keep people coming back.
Use Minimal, Complementary Colors: If you don’t know what complementary colors are, it would be a good idea to find out; it is a very rare occasion when someone should ever use green and purple as main colors on any web page. Ever. Blue and white, black and white, and other colors with white look best. White is easy on the eyes, and doesn’t interfere with text or images. I have almost never put background images on my websites; only once or twice have I changed the color from white. White is an ‘expected’ color; if you put hot pink as your background, people may not be as receptive towards the rest of your site.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment: On every home page I design, I first work from a template I create for a normal content page, and modify things a little here, a little there (always simplifying) until I find a layout that’s pleasing to the eye; I always try to remember the design principles my high school art teachers taught me. Always leave some ‘negative space’ so the eye is not bewildered by all the information, but also make sure you don’t leave the negative spaces in areas where it would be better to have content. I usually spend a few hours simply laying out the home page, moving things from one place to another and back again.