Today web design is barely constrained by technology. Bandwidth is ever increasing, devices are more and more powerful and IE stupidities seem to be on their way out. Then why is it that websites all seem the same? You know, hero image with call to action, then the product or service and contact form in the bottom. I know we've built our fair share of those.
Time and money, baby. It's a big step to buy custom design when the price tag is hundredfold compared to a WordPress theme. And the best of those themes and frameworks are A/B tested to pulp and filled with features (which is actually a bad thing but you only find out later). Buying something like that is fast and cheap. In the good old days (hah!) there were no such options. Everything was done more or less from scratch and as a result, design was horrible but not diluted. Like this:
Designing awesome websites without compromising usability IS possible. But it's not fast. And it's not cheap. Furthermore, the client needs to have some courage to trust their instinct over speculation and fear. Truly kick ass design is only possible with the clients who believe in their product and have a clear, simple message that resonates with the target audience (we can help with the message part).
Time and communication lead to understanding. Understanding and design skills lead to brilliant visual design. Brilliant visual design with the message lead to €€€.