Welcome to Ocean, a design I've been working on for about a month. I started out by going to Layout Gala for the structure. I chose a design with two columns on the right and a content column on the left.
Now that I had a prototype to experiment with, I sent the link to a few friends for a usability test and discovered that this structure just didn't work for a blog. It pays to test and doesn't cost much, just get five friends to perform several tests and give you feedback. With a failed usability test, I went back to the drawing board and redesigned with a content column on the left and a navigation column on the right. Around this time I increased the size of the banner image.
With a successful usabilty test, I now looked at the design. I had struggled with the green theme from the beginning because my site has been blue since 2003. I felt that blue was part of my branding. I used ColorSchemer to select a primary color from the picture I took near Malibu and back to Technicolor to get the theme colors. I just started to use ColorSchemer and I'm not quite used to it yet.
Here's the mockup I came up with from the color palette.
Overall I've been very happy with Layout Gala, I have used it for structure at Eric Mack Online as well as a few more sites for Eric that are coming soon. Combine a stable structure with Technicolor and Eric Meyer's Color Blender for a color theme, Adobe CS (Photoshop) for a few images, Domino Blog for content management and I'm very happy with the result.
What tools do you use to create web sites?