Jay Eff, i don’t think your design is a bad starting point, but i think you can improve it considerably.
Some of the comments so far are bullsh*t an i wouldn’t take them to seriously. i don’t know your background but i have seen a lot worse designs, in fact what you have done conforms to web design principles fairly well.
The first thing that i would suggest is definatlely tone down the red colour, it is used way to much, their need to be some variations in colour. Is the business logo red? or have you just decided to use red in the design?
If red isn’t a prerequiste, then i would suggest you use a less garish colour, more pastel colours, bergundy maybe. Think about colours that would work well with red.
If you do need to use red then i would limit it maybe to the logo and or the button bar, but either way i would try and use some texture to break the colour up.
Your design is fairly generic - that is to say that you have gone with the “obvious” options. Try not to think in a “rigid” sense, you have used too many sharp edges, try to make the design flow, add contours to the button and menu bar.
I would definately say get rid of the title banner as it is boring and a waste of space, it isn’t offering any new info and is bland, replace it with a flash movie if you can, or some pics or patterns?
I would also say don’t use so much bevelling, i would maybe keep some but dont use it on the whole design, it makes look amaturish.
The more i look at your design the more that i think it is ok, it is simple and to the point, the colour isn’t the best but the layout is ok.
All so, is the site going to be a staic layout or will it be liquid, will it be the same dimensions at different resolutions or will it stretch to fit the browser window in different resolutions.
By the looks of it, it looks like you are going for a static design. If this is the case, the largets dimensions can be 776x450. This will fit the browser window perfectly at 800x600 with no scrollbars. You need to remember that different users will have different resolutions, this is an important point to remeber.
Some of torqs points are valid, but the his examples are not. The spacefx site is nice but is design in flash so effects like that are not going to be achivable with standard HTML. Also the spacefx site is obviously for a furniture designers or something, which lends itself perfectly to that snappy trendy flash design. Would this suit your dads equipment company??? No
i work as a web designer, designing sites for estate agents. While i try to be as dynamic and creative as possible when designing mocks for clients, they are very set in their ways and they never want to try anything new or different. So no matter how hard i try to break the traditional design they all ways want something plain and simple, sometimes you just have to go with what the client wants no matter how sh*t you think it looks, so i appreciate what you have done with your dads site.
anyway, experiment, try something different, change the layout around, try to think differently but make sure the site is easy to navigate, but i would definately change the colour.
Hope this has helped - keep at it you will be surprised at what you can achieve.