User Interface Goals
A List Apart: Articles: Home Page Goals Google can get away with a user-hostile front page because everybody already knows how to use it. But that’s the exception to the rule.
Was in agreement with the notions in the above referenced article up to the quoted section. The perfect user interface is simple. When you want to do something, the perfect user interface puts up a "doit" button that will do exactly what you want.
Of course, since we have not quite yet figured out how to read the user's mind, a perfect user interface is beyond our reach. So instead we have to make our best guess as what the user may want to do next, and structure our presentation so the most likely choices are most prominent, and less likely choices may even be a couple hops away.
With Google most of the time visitors want to search. The Google interface is pretty near optimal. The user interface says "Google", offers a search box (first), and then smaller links to less likely choices. Nothing more is needed, and anything more would be clutter (distracting - not a good thing).
Some folks like clutter - don't know why, but they do - but it is not good design.