Here's a fun little anecdote;
I'm a designer. My manager asked for a certain functionality to be designed, but he kept stressing not to use regular drop-downs that we use elsewhere. He kept telling me to design it in a "web-app" type way, very new, fun and generally different from established patterns on our app.
Now, I'm sure a few bells already rang for most of you guys, but I did do as I was told, and mocked up what he needed. Since this design was basically built to navigate user-created categories and sub-categories, it had to accommodate for long words, long paragraphs and the like. This meant that it became incredibly convoluted, and looked more like a step-by-step checkout process than the simple patterns we could've used. Sitting him down, I showed him the results of some hours sketching, and talked him through the process.
Needless to say; he ended up suggesting going back to the old patterns. Mission accomplished.
My point? It's not always "us designers", but we are responsible for what we put out. So put some effort into it!
I think there is a fine line with giving your site a voice and having character while still being usable. I don't think it's about "not being clever" as it is more about being usable while having character.