1) A huge tall heading, like at least 300 pixels up top just doing nothing
2) Top navigation
3) Giant text
4) A big photo of people doing happy things, even if it's only loosely related to your headline topic.
I guess some people like websites to look like magazines, but for some reason I'm not down with the trend. Maybe it's because I actually like to read, maybe I'm just sick of stock photos. Maybe because I'm a blogger who refuses to pepper my every entry with some huge infographic. Power to the people!
While contemplating this topic, I ran across this other website: http://www.kahlercom.com/ It's a total throwback to the late 90s. Note:
1) Side navigation with "button"-looking, well, buttons
2) Textured background
3) Beveled text! AHHHH!
4) Scroll to the bottom for sweet international animated GIF flags
Part of me wants to laugh at it, but part of me sort of dug it to, because the site made me feel like I was reading something that had been on the internet for a looooong time. Like, late 90s websites have gone past dated and back to cool again, they're definitely a style of their own that no modern newbie web designer even thinks to duplicate.
And another funny thing it makes me think about... I still have hundreds of people using the fast version of my pregnancy calendar script, as opposed to the fuller version. The fast version has no links, no background, blue links that turn purple when you've visited them, it's LEAN. And that's what people seem to be down with. Maybe we're all a little tired of weeding through image galleries to get information these days?
Anyway I also wonder if my website is going to look "dated" soon because I'm using 10 point font and a tiny nav menu? Man that'll be a tough one to change, I like it. Maybe I'll totally rebel, if I redesign I'll make a throwback version with side nav and beveled text. It'll be the hotness.