"Do you want the people visiting this site to notice it?"
It's a subtle but essential question.
For artists, musicians and web 2.0 companies, the answer is probably yes. Yes we want people to see the interface or remark on our skills or cleverness.
For everyone else, it's no. The purpose of the site is to tell a story or to generate some sort of action. And if the user notices the site, not the story, you've lost.
This is interesting. As someone who's relatively new to the business of communicating a message through the web, it's not a question that I've formally asked myself.
But now that I have, I'm not entirely sure that I agree with Seth's answer. I get his point; the message is the important thing - not the delivery mechanism. But I also think that a really well-designed web site is going to reflect the values, mission and message of the entity it represents. And while our site (http://crumpleitup.com) doesn't represent a web 2.0 company, I want it to reflect the fact that we design with excellence. With insight. With clarity and with cleverness.
And that, to me, says that the web site is going to be - must be - noticeable for its design. What do you think?