The major complaint we had with the ads was the drop down ones covering the navigation. We moved the ads below navigation so that this will no longer happen.
We also dropped the ad count on the homepage from 5 to 3. The goal here was to be less scattered.
The ads are closer together and organized in such a way to attempt to give a more focused brand image. The hope is that people will notice them a bit more in the current spots, and we can increase the quality of the ads.
The main focus here was alignment. So saying its badly designed isn't looking at it right... remember you're looking at a tiny .jpg from an email, which doesn't even have the full first fold displayed. Please refrain on making judgement until you see the live version.
And yes, the online list and entire left sidebar are gone on certain pages. We asked you guys about this a billiion times, and everyone agreed that the left sidebar was a redundant waste of space on certain pages. So it is gone on all content pages that would benefit from the extra real-estate, but present on all community pages where you would want to know who is online. We have also created a new online list for cults, so you'll be able to see who is online in your cult, making it easier to form and foster smaller communities.
To address the loss of messages, quicklinks and friends we created a new navigation module that sits at the top left. When you click the quicklinks button, they drop down. Same with friends. We added an inbox manager for your messages to clean up that interface as well.
I know its going to take some getting used to, but I really believe that the new version of the site is sweet. Hopefully you guys like it too.