Seeing these examples brings back memories... Clean Up Your Mess is a site that explains the most universal principle rules for design out there. Sure, what really makes great design has changed with fashion and fads. These rules are timelesss, however. They can be broken. Often it's not worth the risk and more times than not fails.
I remember working as a newspaper ad designer over four years ago. The sales and design staff were totally separate. The sales staff was put into the position to care only about making their commission. It didn't matter if the retailers who bought ads had a successful ad. One that had impact. Designers weren't given the access to make recommendations. So usually the ads requested by the sales staff and retailers were listings and heads. Way too much content. Oh, and it all had to "stand out". Put this in a burst? Put this in a box? More typefaces please? If only there was a way to get them to clean up the mess.
Clean Up Your Mess, A guide to visual design for everyone (visualmess.com), discovered via Lifehacker