I just read an article I found through The Web Design Blog, which is a great web design resource. Mark Daoust recently wrote an article for SiteReference about how ugly websites are fine. In ‘The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites‘, Mark provides several examples and ideas about how ugly websites are just as good as well-designed sites. Well Mark, I think it’s safe to say that Get A New Browser disagrees with this notion.
Here’s our two cents worth.
“The example of Plenty of Fish lead me to consider how an ugly website could be so successful. As I looked around, I suddenly realized that this was not the only successful ugly website. Ebay is unbelievably ugly, Craigslist has never won an award for innovative design, and IMDB has never even bothered to format their text out of the default Times New Roman. What is it about ugly websites that makes them so successful?”
Our View: Content sells websites. Sure, CraigsList is ugly, eBay is ugly, and Google is less than appealing. Your conclusion is that because these are some of the most successful websites that design does not matter. But would re-design hurt? No. Maybe they will be more successful if they enhanced their user experience. So, why not use design to enhance your content?
“Yet the fact is, ugly websites do have the ability to present the perfect marketing message. What is that message?
You can trust us. We are a family run business and do not employ a marketing team. Our website is simple, but functional. Most importantly, our goal is to serve our customers, not necessarily learn HTML.”
“And this is one reason that ugly websites can sell. The lack of professionalism and a polished look leads one to believe that they are dealing with an individual. Websites cannot be trusted, but individuals can be trusted.”
Our View: When I see an ugly web site the second thing I think of after ‘I’m not going to waste my time here’ is ‘This can’t be legitimate’. I see an ugly site and I think that it’s generated spam or one of those ad sites you go to when you type in a wrong url.
A polished site creates an image of professionalism and integrity. As a customer you are telling me that you value my experience with my site by the work that you put into it. Would you buy a new car that the automaker decided not to paint? Would you buy a new house if the homebuilder decided to only build half the structure becuase the home would still stand?
“The general lesson here is simplicity. A beautiful website may draw a user in initially, but a simple website will keep your users coming back. If one of your users gets lost trying to navigate your website, check out of your web store, or finding simple contact information, then you unnecessarily are increasing the chances that this user will simply leave.”
Our View: Does beautiful design not directly contribute to simplicity? Good design creates good navigation. Good design organizes content. Good design eases and enhances the user’s experience. Organized content is what makes sites sticky.
“The second question is a rule that should apply to every website: functionality is more important than the design of your website.”
Our view: Good design produces the best functionality. Want proof? Ask 37Signals.
The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites – Mark Daoust