Noisy Interfaces are Bad Interfaces
Google is often lauded for its simple interface, and rightly so. Fewer options cluttering up the screen with a powerful under-the-hood engine makes for a pretty damn good customer experience.
It's rare, however, to see how much clutter on an interface negatively affects the customer's experience. I was searching for flights to Toronto over Thanksgiving on the useful Kayak.com, when the "more search options" link caught my eye. Wondering if they offered multi-destination trips, I clicked.
My brain did its best Keanu impression: "whoa," I thought. I was momentarily overwhelmed by the additional clutter the "more options" options brought to the interface. See for yourself:
All of a sudden, there's grey shading, dropdowns, checkboxes, and radio buttons. Everything is in such a compact space that the eye doesn't know where to look. Kayak was smart to figure out what the large majority of the customers want--a simple city-to-city search--and hiding the rest. The decision to show less in an interface is often difficult to make ("but people will want to specify the times that they fly!") That decision pays off, though, with a much more usable and much less confusing interface.