suggy - 8:08 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)
Danny, at the risk of sounding rude and even though I am a sceptic of such claims, I would say that the demise of your otherwise high quality site is pretty strong evidence that user feedback is in the loop.
To be blunt, that parred down design, whilst admirable, is going to tend toward the "Yukk, I'm out of here" reaction IMHO, before searchers discover the real quality. Superficial I know... please don't take it personally.
Do you have any stats on your bounce rate for (Google) search traffic?