The most important thing is that, keep your visitor busy for a while when they arrived your page first time.
The first minute is very important when visitors come to your website. If they do not like the website they will leave and move on to another website. So make your visitor busy always. And this first minute will decide whether they will be staying on the website or not. So your website need to be proved something better than other website.
When visitor first come to your website and in the first few seconds after typing if they wait for loading then they will hit stop and move on to another website. So you need to load your website content very fast.
Some graphics overview or a splash page on your website for first few seconds could take your visitor a little longer staying than normally getting the content.
So after the graphics or splash page finished loading the visitor will give it once over to see if something is interesting on their choice. And a very large number of users are interest about graphics on front page or any interesting topics if you show them on splash screen. So make sure that your front page makes it more interesting rather than their surfing contents.
But only front page design can not make your website popular. You need to update your website content regularly (weekly, daily, monthly).
If website visitor determines that the content is very useful and entertaining to them then they will surely navigate to other links on your webpage.