I really enjoyed this blog post from Get Humanized:
Preferences: Hiding Interface Complexity
One additional thought to add as I am struggling with just this very issue with a client right now. The writer comments:
…it’s as if an interface designer had a whole bunch of ideas, didn’t know what to do with them, and stuffed them into a closet…
In my experience it’s more accurate to say:
…it’s as if an business stakeholder had a whole bunch of ideas, didn’t know what to do with them, and stuffed the designer into a closet until he did as he (or she) was told…
In most cases, it seems to be a lack of understanding of what the user wants or needs. A business stakeholder / client unwilling to spend time or money to truly understand user needs and determining what these might be based on “internal focus groups” (i.e. asking one’s colleagues who work for the company) is a business stakeholder who will want all possibilities, no matter how remote, addressed in the interface.
The interaction designer is blamed, but the reality may be that the person / company writing the checks has the final say on what’s “good.”