Great advice on crafting a home page from A List Apart. In short: build it last, and work first on the details (the smallest, ubiquitous elements of your site). A great homepage with poor search results or product page will only lead to disappointment. So if your site is shallow and ugly on the inside, make sure your homepage is too. Also:
If a first time visitor to your site's home page does not understand what it is within three seconds, you've failed goal number one, so feel free to skip the rest. The only people who will use the site are the people who already know what it does. Or, ya know, masochists.
- Give Your Content Some Attention
- Validate Your Website's Relevance
- Think About Your Customers
- Review Your Site Navigation
- Identify Accessibility Problems