Good points by all, and as always we'll consider them seriously. Just to know where we're coming from, here's a few things to keep in mind.
Although about half of the traffic to EH-Net is in the forums, a very high percentage of viewers/readers of EH-Net are NOT members in the forums. We get a huge amount of traffic each day from people looking at the calendar, all of the articles and browsing a few forum posts here and there. So from the perspective of trying to convert the visitors into members (and hopefully participating ones), we have to make the most of each page view. Since a number of you are here every day in the forums (and trust me that is greatly appreciated), that means that the content in the sidebar becomes redundant pretty quickly for you. I get that. But for most, it makes accessing the rest of the content throughout EH-Net very easy.
Another crucial thing to consider... keeping the site alive and free takes advertising. By doing it this way, the ads appear on every page and not just the 'magazine' side of the house. That makes our clients very happy. If we want to play with the big boys, this is very important on the backend of things. Here's the response from one of our clients (edited to protect the innocent):
"I really like the new look of EH-Net. It is clear, rigorous and solid, a style that will be highly appreciated by managers and decision makers.
The new design is also very modern and at the same time not too heavy and complex, like (competitor)'s one for example where user gets lost among unstructured content, AJAX and flash. Very well done. Congratulations!"
From a paying client, that is huge!
From a design perspective, the templates used for the new EH-Net are all responsive, which means that the site automatically adjusts based on the screen size. I've looked at it on desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, and in all honesty, I can read it fine on all. I actually like they way it looks on my 10" tablet both in landscape and portrait modes. Also, it not only makes us look just as good as major publications (even though we are a tiny organization), but it also is something that many site owners wish they had... seamless integration between a site and a forum. Trust me when I say that the reason most site owners have what you would call a 'normal forum' is because it is way too cumbersome for most to make it happen. They wish they had what we have.
Last but certainly not least is all of you regulars. Although the regulars make up a small fraction of total traffic on EH-Net, you are our bread and butter. So I hear you clearly, and maybe there's some middle ground. Let me play with the design and see what I can come up with that may give you some more room without breaking everything else.
Thanks again for patience during this transition and for everything you all do for EH-Net. Keep the feedback coming. We've always tried to make this community not only friendly to newcomers (to the site and to the industry), but we've also shown are great respect for the advice we've gotten along the years.
Hope this makes a modicum of sense,