I'm curious about people's views on website clutter. I'm thinking specifically about weblogs, the vast majority of which have multiple columns, their sidebars filled with gadgets and logos and links. Often, it seems, people design their weblogs to double as their own homepages, and so they include calendars, weather reports, syndicated newsfeeds--all irrelevant to the vast majority of visitors. Why don't people make a separate page for themselves, filled with all their favorite gadgets, and leave the main page for content?
Even those sites that show restraint still tend to litter their front pages with links to other weblogs. I don't see this as a bad thing--it's part of how we network, and how we find new material to read. Hey, my ego is fed by inbound links as much as the next guy's. But I'm curious--how many people think that peer links need to be on the front page, taking screen real estate away from the primary content?
Part of my problem, I suppose, is I'm so hostile towards advertising in general. The modus operandi of advertising is to lurk near content; when people seek out the content, they're exposed to ads. Sidebar links and logos aren't really part of a site's interface--they're advertising. They're not what visitors seek out, but they're exposed to them anyway.
The beauty of the web is that it's primarily "pull", not "push". Readers seek out what they want, when they want it. But every bit of secondary information you cram on a page is being pushed on users who pulled on something else. Is it necessary? Is it healthy?
Of course, many sites offer XML-based syndication, which means you can make your own interface out of other people's content. I think that's wonderful. But a front page still serves an important role: it's what draws and engages new readers who have no reason (yet) to syndicate your site.
I recently ran across a CSS example site that shows how to make a 3-column layout in CSS. They call this layout "The Holy Grail", which boggles my mind. Does this make sense to everybody but me?
ADDENDUM (17:12 PM): I know advertising is not always bad: when it gives you information you're happy to have, everybody wins. And of all the things to advertise, friend-blogs are possibly the least intrusive and most likely to benefit visitors. Mainly, I'm curious how many people think it's worth the screen real estate to put these on the front page. (At first glance, the answer appears to be "everybody".)