Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design (via Column Two) is an interesting article that shows how over-simplifying a design can harm usability rather than helping it.
It’s true that the more simple a page looks, the easier users can find information on it. But reducing visual complexity to make things pleasing to the eye by hiding critical information from users will inevitably increase structural complexity, and make it difficult for users to grasp and navigate the site.
It also includes a good debunking of the idea that users don’t like to scroll—in this age of wheel mouses I’ve never understood some people’s preference for multi-page articles over one page with a scroll bar. The article concludes that the real challenge is coming up with the proper balance between visual and structural complexity.