So I just read a very interesting article titled “Progressive Reduction“. The idea is that when you design a site you need to tell people exactly what the buttons mean, and then over time as people get used to the icons you can simplify the buttons down to remove their distracting pull from the design.
I love that people are continually looking for ways to make things better and from the looks of it, I believe that they came to this idea based on some failed attempts in the past to simplify too much. The idea would require more work on the programming side to enable you to track the usage and apply the appropriate design but if super clean, uncluttered design is something you really want then it is a great way to implement it. Speaking of implementing, because the article generated so much buzz they created a follow up: Implementing Progressive Reduction.