Here’s how I’d go about building websites now.
Strip the design back to the bare minimum. Use just one column if possible, two maximum. Use words–they’re more efficient than images. Minimum screen width, two colours, navigation only if necessary. You’re not worrying about appearances yet, although chances are things will look good. Everyone likes the minimalist look.
Test your minimum viable design. Can users perform all popular tasks? Find everything they need to know? Tweak, shake and add page elements until they can.
Sweat the details as you go along. Once users can do their stuff you can really concentrate on each element. Because you’ve got a small amount of code to manage this is easy. The less things you have to work on, the more time you can spend on each one. Everything works well. Your site looks great.