If your website is meant to encourage users to search for and share videos, images, people, or data, then keep the design as simple as possible. This will increase the chances of revisits and encourage the idea that you’re an established source that doesn’t rely on gimmicks to get visitors. The focus of most of your marketing attack should be on outside sites, in the form of viral videos and other content sharing techniques that best fit your business model, which can be amplified by the services of a paid search agency. As far as your own website goes, you need someone who knows how to make something sparkle without making it blinding.
There’s a good reason why website giants like Google and her underling Youtube, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Flickr, and even immensely popular fringe sites like 4Chan.org have the means to develop and design state-of-the-art homepages teeming with the latest in interactive bells and whistles, but instead keep their designs stuck as vanilla as possible. Granted these websites mentioned are particularly powerful cases, whose services speak for themselves, but the idea that heavy design is a significant booster in a website’s success is ignoring the truth that online, it’s function that matters.
No matter what you don’t want to inhibit that function. Focus on the logo. When you think of the words “Google” and “Twitter” aren’t you picturing them in the font style depicted on their homepage logos? Coming up with a clever name and designing a creative logo are what online marketing agencies do best. Other than that all you need are a few hyperlinks and a search window and you’re good to go.
Facebook is a good example of a giant who started with simple style then decided to reverse course and engage its users with a sophisticated new layout. I can’t say it hasn’t worked for Facebook since they’re still getting millions of new members, but consider the accusations against Facebook these days: invasion of user privacy, undisclosed data mining, the list goes on. The introduction of a bombardment of outside advertisements and applications, the increasing complication of profile layout, and a sense of losing control on the part of the members, certainly contributes to the chatter about Facebook’s intentions these days.
But let’s be straightforward, you’d kill to be in the position where you could upset millions of your websites members. In the meantime, while you build that million-man base, try and keep your website simple and avoid picking flash over function. Chances are it’ll be the easiest choice you can make that has the best results.