MikeGale - 10:35 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)
There are interesting relationships between design and content.
An instructive excursion is to look at the way Paul Graham's sites do design. The attitude, if I'm not mistaken, is to be absolutely minimal, with a clear objective. That objective, deliberately discourage those for whom eyecandy is very important. The hope is that this will leave deeper thinkers who contribute rather than detract from the debate.
It seems to work moderately well in that context.
For me easy to find, flow, short content, with all the facts in one small place are important. My time is precious. The web has become a great cess pool of half baked content. Not surprising, when it's too easy to create content. No reliable way to pre-judge it = disaster. (By flow I mean that easy running mental state where you can absorb a lot of information, are relaxed and can go for hours.)
In this context I suggest:
Design could be better. If the "chrome/eyecandy" is subtle and not distracting. If colouring emphasizes content and the rest is definitely background. If there's a way to smoothly get the central message, well expressed in no more words than are needed, then you're golden.
If you look at a few pages and tune into where your eye and mind get carried by the design you'll feel what I mean.