What are the basics of an attractive web design? What should I be looking for and what sources should I use to educate myself on the matter?
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Well, the subject is quite vast, and it would take a book to cover it, but we may be able to give some advice. Ill try to give only a few bullet points for a short answer, but Ill also try to recommend a few readings that might explain some concepts and principles.
Thats just to get you started. But actually there are thousands of sites, books and blogs on the subject. There are quite a few questions on this very site. Ill list some links that I have found useful or educational:
Tips and sources for beginning designers - very good and popular question. Since its applciable to almost any design situation, its also applciable for web design. (Actually, your question might well be duplicating it)
What is the single most influential book every designer should read? - a lot of inspirational material and really great books. I personally recommend "Dont make me think".
http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/31/10-principles-of-effective-web-design/ - a few more thoughts that I didnt yet point out.
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/10/judging-websites.html - a great blogpost by Jeff Atwood (you should recall the name ;) that any web developer should read.
http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Principles-Design-William-Lidwell/dp/1592530079 - a great book. Ive learned a lot from it, and I think you might learn a lot too.
But all in all, good design is a vast subject, and you'll have to work and learn a lot to get good at it. Good luck!