Why Website Usability Trumps Design
Making your website look all cool and fancy is important but may we suggest that you pay even close attention to usability. After all, if it looks good, but no one can use it, what good is it?
Case in point: Lufthansa
Lufthansa's current website (as of 1/31/2013) features a nice layout with good use of hero images. Unfortunately, it's the same use of those hero images, that's making the Search feature on their site un-usable.
How so? You might ask. Well, the person in charge of website content obviously did not pay any attention to the fact that the "search" feature (in black text) was layered on top of the hero images. So, while those hero images of ski lodges in Switzerland, business class cabin or the temples of India work on a standalone basis, they practically blend in with the backgground image to make the overlaid Search feature on the Home Page practically unusable.
A great example of why design & usability go hand in hand.
So, if you are using a green background on your site, that green "Go" button might look great in Photoshop, but it will do a David Copperfield and disappear from the page if you aren't careful!
Here are 2 screenshots from the Lufthansa site. You be the judge. Do you think it's easy to spot the options for Search?