With my software developer hat on, I am often asked by writing colleagues about web sites. My answer is always: Don't re-invent the wheel (or the website!). See who is already doing it right. And while you're looking, the key is.... content, content, content.
Brian Falkner Writes is one of my favourite websites for exactly the reasons above. It's interesting to look at, lots of reader related content, high-interest trailers on the front page... Check it out and see what I mean. I guarantee you'll want to click and go deeper into the site.
While the site is visually well designed, it's most important features are excellent content and navigation. A good-looking site won't attract repeat visitors unless it has interesting information and things to see and do. And it won't work if the visitor can't find them before they lose interest and click somewhere else.
My systems analysis report gives this site 5/5.