> The key to any successful website is how well it solves a need.
Going against big players is tough and competitive. One approach is finding (or creating) a niche need and from there growing the site until it's better able to move into the more competitive markets - that is if it's even worthwhile to do so.
> The amount of text on your site (and more importantly keywords), may help your site get off the ground.
This tip deals with search engine optimization, and how making your site seo friendly can help with search engine rankings. In my experience, having pages with specific keywords and/or lots of relevant text can improve traffic to your site. This is an especially useful practice if your site is new or has little marketing as it's a way to help your site list well in search engine rankings without having to accumulate numerous inbound links which normally takes a while to do.
> Try developing your site in Firefox with the Firebug extension, and the YSlow and Hammerhead Firebug extensions.
> Minimize DOM styling on page load.
> onmousedown is ~100ms faster than onclick.
Something to keep in mind. Use only where appropriate (not for links!).
> Need a repeating background image and another one just for the top of the page? Set the background on both the HTML and BODY tags.
You can set a background on both the HTML and BODY tags in CSS. One techniqu e is to set a repeating (fixed) background image on the HTML tag and a second, top of the page only background (transparent) image on the BODY tag. I would recommend setting the background-attachment attribute on the HTML tag to fixed so that you don't get the jitter effect in some browsers when scrolling (if the background-repeat property is set to repeat).
> Good feeds to follow:
A List Apart, Ajaxian, DZone, DZone: JS, TechCrunch, WebGuild. While there are numerous web development blogs out there, I find these to be consistently interesting and useful. A great way to stay up to date in this fast paced world.
> Technologies worth checking out:
Django and Flex. Flex I'm still taking a look at however Django I've been working with for a few months now and think it's great. It's a Python based MVC framework that has been gaining traction as of late (Google apps and the Russian search engine Yandex use it). It's rather easy to pick up, even if you don't know any Python (as was my case). Coming from a Rails background, I found it was quite easy to port some of my sites (such as this one) over.
> Other useful things:
For editing/development in Windows: E Text Editor (Textmate for Windows.) For tracking/analytics: Woopra. For sitemap generation: XML-Sitemaps.com.
Just as a final note, something I haven't looked into much but will be shortly, is internationalization. There are tools out there that translate web content quickly and easily (and these days more accurately). Might be worth looking into yourself if you get a lot of foreign visitors.