One of the fundamental principles of design is a deep and meaningful connection between form and content; form should both reflect and shape content. Separating them breaks this principle and creates generic content containers. In a design sense, templates are meaningless; the form adds nothing to the content.
Boris, I love this passage and I completely agree that lazy content-agnostic design has given us far too many generic-looking websites. Sometimes this is an economic necessity — businesses simply don’t have the budget to custom design each piece of content. But it becomes a larger problem when this bland “bootstrap” design starts to permeates our design language and creeps into projects that don’t share the limitations which necessitate it.
Another problem is that the digital design industry is rife with inexperienced or unqualified people who tend to imitate rather than innovate. That’s a natural and healthy part of learning the creative process, but at some point you have to break from those shackles or you won’t have the breadth of skill to solve more unique design challenges.
Lastly, part of the issue is client demand. They see someone being successful and assume if they look they same it will lead to success. So they ask to look like Apple, or Facebook, or whatever, and that stifles the creativity of their designer unless the designer has the confidence, communications skills, and data to push back and suggest more innovative alternatives.