I've been building sites for more years. I've used Wordpress (love), Joomla (hate), Drupal (love) and others like Magento, osCommerce, Prestashop, expressionengine and even Django (hmm...) and Rails for a project. There's a right tool for every job!
But no matter the tools we use as developers, one thing always stays the same: The client!
So having gathered all my experience working for others I wanted to do something for myself and make it really good. I chose WordPress for it's ease of use and to be frank because MarketPress did most of the things I wanted to do out-of-the-box!!
But wordpress's administration can be a bit overwhelming for someone lacking the knowledge. Having a lot of options and configurations can be a disaster! My thoughts were these:
1. Most users are not power-users. They don't want to deal with all the "small things" of a project. They simply want to get the job done!
2. Too many options can be a scary thing for the average user.
3. Having too much on your screen becomes tiresome and is not user-friendly.
For my project I want users to have the absolute necessary for their sites. Nothing more, nothing less!!
So I started exploring what I can do to "simplify" their experience.
1. Since I am building on wordpress multisite, some options are network-wide and can be hidden from individual sites
2. Using the amazing blog templates plugin (https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/new-blog-template/) more options can be standardized, and hidden from individual sites
3. WordPress 3.4 introduced the theme customizer, making theme customizations even easier.
4. I don't want my users to be able to post pages, so I hid that menu too
In order to avoid making this a huge post, I will instead post each solution and/or trick-hack in the comments below, hoping that it will help someone else.