Edward Tufte is regarded as “the Da Vinci of Data”. His statement that his objective is “simple design, intense content” reflects what has been prevalent in the most popular websites. Tufte is an accomplished skeptic routinely dismantling the obfuscation of data across the entire spectrum of communicators. His published works can be regarded as equivalent to William Strunk’s Elements of Style for the presentation of data.
Any website to have it’s form properly designed requires a background in Tufte’s work.
I also highly recommend browsing Tufte’s Ask ET Page