Here, I disagree with you, on two counts, and both of them related to the usability of sites.
1. Document length
You say that "[a] long list of links would not "waste screen space", if the pages were normal long documents". Documents shouldn't be long; a couple of reinforcements of that fact (taken from Jakob Nielsen's columns, since that's where we started ;) :
Instead of cramming everything about a product or topic into a single, infinite page, use hypertext to structure the content space into a starting page that provides an overview and several secondary pages that each focus on a specific topic
There's a whole section called "Scrolling now allowed" in Changes in Web Usability Since 1994; it states that documents can now overrun a single screenful, as users have become more proficient at using the Web, but that "it should be a rare exception to go beyond three screenfulls on an average monitor", "[s]crolling still reduces usability", and "I still recommend trying to design navigation pages to make all major choices visible without scrolling on the monitors used by the average visitor to a site".
Ten Good Deeds in Web Design
There's a big difference between documents that are short and documents that are flashy. Not all pages that are short are unnecessarily flashy, but all pages that are short are easier to see at a glance than a fifteen-screen scrollable document. My point was that, if you break up documents into small, easily-digestible sections (as the above blockquote describes), then you haven't got the screen space for fifty links down the left hand side.
2. Navigation layers
"As for another layer of navigation, I don't care if it is logical"
Your users care, though :-) The navigation on a site is vital. Without it, it doesn't matter how good your content is, because no-one ever gets to see it. My point here is that you seem to be classifying any navigation system that uses things other than plain links as bad navigation, and I do not believe that that's the case. Obviously, you can design atrocious and pointlessly overfeatureful navigation systems in a combination of Flash and Java, but that doesn't mean that all systems designed with those tools are bad, nor does it imply the corollary; that all "plain, simple" text-link systems are great and wonderful and easy to use. Usability is a thing almost entirely apart from the methods by which it is implemented. Whether you can fit everything on the front page is a measure of how good your usability assessment is; if you can do so and remain usable, that's great! It's certainly not a priori impossible.
"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace"
-- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]