Safety and security are the two biggest benefits of outdoor lighting. Consider safety first and foremost. A well lit outdoor area lacks shadows on paths, steps, and other areas where people could trip or potentially hurt themselves. No one (guest or thief) will want to come over if they have to navigate a light/dark obstacle course to get to your front door.
Consider lighting from the ground up or from the sides out. Be careful with lighting from above. Remember: the goal is to reduce the amount of shadows and darkness. This won’t prevent clumsiness, but having less darkness equals more safety.
Once you’ve covered safety, then proceed with establishing security. Try thinking like a thief: look for possible places where you could hide and stay out of sight. These are the areas that you want well lit, and a well lit home (indoors and outdoors) is far less likely to be robbed than a poorly lit one. Also, having a well lit home will be more inviting to guests.
Consider installing an outdoor lighting system that has remote control features, allowing you to turn on the outdoor lights from anywhere in your home.
Once these two facets are covered, then proceed to establish a greater artistic ambiance with your outdoor lighting.
Photo courtesy of hotblack.