The standards for good graphic design for the internet are constantly changing. Just a few years ago, complex, flashy designs with animated graphics and animated menus were all the rage. Now, if you are thinking that an intro page with an animation of one of your products set to music is a good idea, then think again. You will be wasting your money and Activeminds will decline to build it for you because it won't work!
The most effective money making sites on the internet also tend to be some of the simplest. You only have to look at the Google home page, or Craigs List to understand what I mean. These sites get their message across in the simplest, most uncluttered way possible. No fancy graphics, no animation, no music or sound effects. Even news sites with a complex message and many stories to get across are best if they are designed to be simple and with minimal distractions. The BBC News site is a good example of this although the BBC do have an unfair advantage over most in that their site does not need to be supported by advertizing. Even a news site with advertizing such as CNN's shows that sponsor graphics do not need to unduly interfere with the news message.
Activeminds believe that it is important that every page in a web site should have the same basic design. This reassures your visitor that all the pages they are visiting belong together. It also makes navigation around the site easier and more intuitive if menu buttons are always in the same place. We also believe that as far as possible, every page on the site should be directly accessible from any other. This means that drop down menus of some sort should almost certainly be used.
Informational web sites that provide little more than a Yellow Pages ad are really of little use at the moment. Sure they're cheap to build and they cost virtually nothing to maintain but they're also likely to get very few visitors. Now that situation may change as localized search gets better and the search engines filter out and remove sites that try and pretend to be local everywhere. But don't hold your breath.
The three most important rules for good website design are content, content and content. If you have the information your users need and the added value that encourages them to keep coming back, your site will succeed. Now this is not to say that all you have to do is build a killer website and sit back while you rake in the money. You must advertize your presence to seed the process. You must expect it to take time and money before you're recognised. The number of sites on the internet is so large that it's highly unlikely that your target audience will simply stumble across you and start spending money. Even if they do find you, you will have no track record so why would they trust you enough to send you money?