Less Clutter, More Focus On Content
Here's the thing with web design trends; they will come and go. Do you remember the proliferation of websites built with Flash? The difficulty of getting those sites to rank on search engine result pages made website owners switch to better technologies. What does not change though is the focus on highlighting the important content on any website.
When designing a website, a concrete plan should be in place. Why do you need a website? Are you going to use it to sell products or services? Are you trying to raise awareness to important issues? Are you making a website to showcase a portfolio? Your goals would have plenty of effect on the direction you need to take in terms of web design.
No matter your goal is, you have to focus on keeping clutter to a minimum. What do I mean by this? It simply means that if you think that a feature would be cool to have, like a chat box on the sidebar, yet it does not need to serve an important purpose for your website, do not even try to cram it in.
You may be involved in a niche which target web-savvy individuals and you might think that it would be great if you can impress them with the multitude of features on your site. Unfortunately, novelty features get old fast. And you are not even sure if it would click with your target audience.
If you really want to impress your visitors or make your website even more appealing to them, ask them. Once your website is built and launched and you see people coming back to it, regularly ask them if they want a certain feature to be added to your site. No, it would not make you look lazy that you can not come up with features that would be useful to them. Instead, it would only mean that you care for your visitors that you are actually giving them a voice on what they want to see on your website.
Let us go back to reducing clutter. Do not be afraid that your site would look too minimalistic or too bare. You can easily find important things to infuse to your website's style. If you are selling a product or services, highlight its features. If you are campaigning about something, point out the reasons why people should listen to you or why they should help you in your campaign.
Remember that in building a website, you are designing it for other people. Users of your website should be at the forefront of your mind when designing your site. But at the same time, you have to be sure that what you are sharing is not lost on them so always reduce clutter and focus on what you want them to see.