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The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the make-them-stop dept.

468

nywanna writes "After seeing the example of Plenty of Fish and the reports of the site earning over $10,000/day in Adsense revenues, I quickly realized that there are a lot of ugly websites that are extremely successful. The reason for this, according to the article, is that ugly websites do a few things that beautiful websites tend to lack."

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Please stop trolling Digg for stories! (-1, Offtopic)

pegr (46683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957824)

/. ain't digg...

Please stop trolling Digg for stories! (0)

pegr (46683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957909)

Third page in the Digg review cue:

"The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites

daoustmark submitted by daoustmark 57 minutes ago (via http://www.site-reference.com/... [site-reference.com] )

I wrote this article after seeing a couple of examples of ugly websites that were unbelievably successful, including one site that makes over $10,000/day in Adsense! I realized that there are qualities to ugly websites which help make them successful."

So is nywanna daoustmark? Or just copying other posts from digg?

Re:Please stop trolling Digg for stories! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958029)

daoustmark is nywanna (check email domains). So he posted the same story to two different tech blogs. So what?

Re:Please stop trolling Digg for stories! (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958048)

It's innevitable that this will happen. The question is whether or not the editors here will be smart enough to let the story through AFTER it's been posted to Digg or not. They should add some code to their submission script to check and see if the story has already been featured on Digg to avoid these kinds of criticisms. But... if they did that, then where would they get their stories? ;P

slashdot (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957829)

Maybe that's why slashdot is so successful?

Talk about Ugly.. (4, Funny)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957835)

Just look at the website for the article:
Could not connect: User root has already more than 'max_user_connections' active connections

Re:Talk about Ugly.. (0, Redundant)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958010)

Great, now some enterprising /.-er is going to haxx0r their Apache...

You think that's ugly... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958109)

...wait 'till you see what happens when someone figures out how to exploit that little bit of account information ;)

ICQ (4, Insightful)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957837)

The old ICQ website still tops my ugly list. It had multiple columns and went on forever. Info overload.

That's what I call ugly!!! (0, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957843)

/.-ed already, now that is what I call UGLY!

Could not connect: User root has already more than 'max_user_connections' active connections

Re:That's what I call ugly!!! (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957878)

Don't worry, I don't think we're missing much. When I did get through to the site it was pretty mangled looking in FF. The author might consider spending some time reflecting on the article.

Re:That's what I call ugly!!! (3, Insightful)

Kurt Gray (935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957887)

Running the web dameon as root, now that's ugly.

Re:That's what I call ugly!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958149)

Well anyway, it gives the general picture.

I would never frequent any website... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957844)

...with poor layout, non-compliance, and shabby editorial standards.

Re:I would never frequent any website... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957901)

Me neither. Good thing I can't think of any that fit that description.

Obviously... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957847)

Obviously... I mean Slashdot seems to do OK.

FP?

How is this already slashdotted? (0, Redundant)

damacus (827187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957849)

Could not connect: User root has already more than 'max_user_connections' active connections

Re:How is this already slashdotted? (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958136)

It's probably been hacked as well as slashdotted, (and dug) by now.

Well if it didn't make 10,000 a day before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957855)

it certainly will today.

Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, putting a website onto slashdot and then noting how successful it is.

Ugly web page (0, Redundant)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957857)

This web page is truly ugly. It consists of a boring white background with a single line of boring black text, saying "Could not connect: User root has already more than 'max_user_connections' active connections" :-)

Re:Ugly web page (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957963)

But it does this in a way that Amazon.com never could

Well... (5, Insightful)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957859)

Maybe it has something to do with the actual content of the website?

I'm sure that an ugly porn site would probably bring in more money than a pretty site about overpriced potato chips that you can ship from Pakistan.

Re:Well... (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958005)

I really think you're underestimating the drawing power of Pakistani potato chips. I mean, I knew a guy who got $50 million in VC funding in 1998 for a website with nothing on it but a dancing package of Pakistani potato chips.

Slashdot is successful too... (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957860)

"I quickly realized that there are a lot of ugly websites that are extremely successful"

Example #1: Slashdot itself.

Re:Slashdot is successful too... (0, Flamebait)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957961)

Seriously. I mean, it's last "overhaul" was going to CSS. And what did we get? The SAME shit again. Come on guys. You are getting paid to do this, can't you come up with some styles that users can select other than "FUGIN UGLY"?

Re:Slashdot is successful too... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958008)

going to CSS modernized the site and led to a more uniform look in various browsers, ity wasn't an appearance overhaulk. do you realize how much bitching that would create

My Candidate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958026)

Would be...

www.Microsoft.com

I still can't understand why the are so succesfull...

-AC

Google. (1, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957862)

... and when one of those websites that is usually ugly but full of features becomes beautiful, they are even more successful. Google, for example.

Re:Google. (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958024)

Google's minimalist, to-the-point search page is one of the things I like best about it. I wonder how successful they would have been if it was as busy and cluttered as most of the others?

Re:Google. (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958098)

Google isn't feature full. Yahoo is feature full. If you go to www.google.com you wouldn't even know they have email or mapping. The main site is so plain its pathitic. However being so light weight helps them server the billions of request to www.google.com that come in a day.

Zen design doesn't mean pleasant use (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957867)

Flipping through the various examples in The Zen of CSS Design [amazon.com] , for example, I am amazed by how gorgeous some of the effects are, but I know that I'd be quickly worn out if I had to use any of these on a regular basis. Sometimes simple design, even to the point of blocky quasi-socialist-realist functionality, works better even if it doesn't win awards for looks.

Re:Zen design doesn't mean pleasant use (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957962)

I absolutely agree. The point of the example, I believe, isn't that it's minimalistic. It's downright ugly.

"Ugly" can be very subjective. (5, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958036)

I looked at the "Plenty of Fish" site and it did not look ugly to me.

It looked clean and functional. It certainly wasn't "pretty", but it was far from "ugly".
Sometimes simple design, even to the point of blocky quasi-socialist-realist functionality, works better even if it doesn't win awards for looks.
Form follows function. If there isn't any requirement for cute effects, then why add them?

It's about USABILITY (4, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958139)

The simple fact is, people don't care for fancy graphics. That's nice to look at, but it won't make you come back day after day. What people want is meaningful content, that's easily accessible. People want the semantic web, and RSS feeds from sites all over the net, in a simple browser, not animations that take ages to wade through, and must be waded through differently on each site. Plenty of Fish is a good example of that, but OK Cupid is a better one, and the popularity figures will show the difference.

So? (5, Funny)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957873)

ugly websites do a few things that beautiful websites tend to (not do).

Ugly women often have the same virtue.

Re:So? (0, Redundant)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957945)

That's the funniest thing I've read in weeks.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

Scyber (539694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957973)

ugly women do a few things that beautiful websites tend to (not do)???

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957981)

...and how do you know this...mmm?

Re:So? (1)

markild (862998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958012)

LOL!

This comment should be modded Insightful..

Funniest comment in a long while though ;)

Re:So? (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958133)

Well done, sir. Take a bow.

Ugly websites get slashdotted! (4, Informative)

brian23 (962399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957874)

Re:Ugly websites get slashdotted! (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957933)

Man, that URL is really ugly. I'm going to click elsewhere to avoid it.

Re:Ugly websites get slashdotted! (1)

tehshen (794722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958107)

One word... (2)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957877)

Hampsterdance [hampsterdance.com] .

Ugly sites... (0)

Grant29 (701796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957880)

Hmm, I wish I knew this before I redesigned PriceAge [priceage.com] . I think it's still an attractive site, but also has the usability/simplicty features mentioned in the article.

I read an article about a guy making tons of money on the internet shipping a certain product. When I checked out his webpage it looked so amatuer that I would have never bought from him. I guess the people that don't mind ugly sites are the same ones that fall for the spam links all the time. One thing is for sure: "Attractive site != income potential". There are just too many ugly sites that buck that idea.

Re:Ugly sites... (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958039)

I'd use an ugly site .. but only so I could get close to its beautiful sister site.

Re:Ugly sites... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958069)

So _you_ are one of those bastards who designs those god-awful and annoying Linkwhore sites?

Design doesn't matter much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957883)

Most sites are useless unless they have some form of content or purpose that is of interest to its visitors. A good design may help on first impressions, but it's the content that makes you return. The extreme goes in both directions; too flashy or bleeding eyes contrast problems.

ugly sites load fast (2)

mytrip (940886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957884)

I generally do not visit many nice looking sites because there is too much garbage on them and they are slow to load. Dont even get me going on sites with a big 800x600 flash movie on the home page...

Re:ugly sites load fast (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958064)

Ummm. But I think that sparse (but well done) sites are nice looking, and the sites that overuse flash are the ugly ones.

Ugly, or Simple? (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957892)


Put the snob in the backseat for a moment and consider there's a difference between Ugly and Simple. Back in the early days there was a site [webpagesthatsuck.com] where I learned the fundamental difference between Form and Function, the bottom line is, as it always has been, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

My designs tend to have a very small footprint and require minimal bandwidth. While I was building light weight search engines, the clod who over-saw our website put a massive graphic on the home page. Those, like myself, still on 2400 baud modems at the time had to sit and wait for that The Bob damn thing to load.

Years later I was working with United Airlines Air Cargo and some brain at the top elected to replace a very simple, not pretty, but very simple interface with javascripts galore, whizzy graphics and image mapping, all in a kind of Black on Black, which would have Hotblack Desiato break out in a sweat, dead or not. It didn't work and they'd spent big on it.

This isn't really an ugly site. On the other hand /. ... hmm.

Re:Ugly, or Simple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958032)

They spent big on javascript?

Re:Ugly, or Simple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958146)

all in a kind of Black on Black, which would have Hotblack Desiato break out in a sweat, dead or not.

Way to go on the "Restaurant at the End of the Universe" reference. I always wondered what a Disaster Area concert would sound like. Guess I came to the closest thing when I saw Pink Floyd in San Antonio, TX during their last tour.

Maddox (3, Interesting)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957895)

One good example not mentioned: Maddox's The Best Page in the Universe [slashdot.org] prides itself on a very simple design and he gets a gillion hits. Not to mention he only uses a subdomain of his ISP.

Re:Maddox (5, Informative)

RalphLeon (856789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958116)

Good comment, better link: Maddox [xmission.com] .

Working on site (2, Interesting)

nywanna (960908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957899)

Sorry for the site going down - working on increasing max connections...

Re:Working on site (1)

alfboggis (528706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958092)

The story submitter working on the site mentioned in the story....

Smells fishy to me...

Re:Working on site (1)

sho222 (834270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958097)

why don't you work on some connection pooling while you're at it.

Summary (2, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957902)

When many people come to an ugly page they click somewhere just to get away from it.

Personally I hit the back button, but I guess that's just me.

Excellent Slashvert. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957907)

Excellent Slashvert.

Why do they make so much in ad revenue? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957910)

It's simple, the uglier the web site, the more you will want to LEAVE. Even if it takes an ad-click, it gets the job done and you dont have to look at godawful fonts and horrible color choices any more. Part 3, as always, is *profit*. Brilliant if you ask me.

Proof... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957918)

Pretty isn't a requirement for raking in money, case in point: Bill Gates.

Adsense Crash (1)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957920)

I'm still waiting for the adsense, and thus google stock, crash. It will come. There are so many adsense scraper sites and the fact that every tom dick and harry can throw adsense on a page is not necessarily a good thing. I think google should be doing some quality screening, but I guess adwords advertisers don't really care.

Re:Adsense Crash (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958025)

There's a lot of quality checks on adsense clicks. You're right that google barely seems to care what pages display their ads. But google is big on checking the quality of click-throughs. Why should they care their ads show on bad sites? As long as the clicks are legal they're making good money on it.

10,000 Dollars a day? (1)

Dawnspire (960514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957921)

Well now that there is a direct link to that website on Slashdot, I wouldn't be surprised if it jumped to $50,000 a day!

Nice work... encourage bad site design..

craigslist.org is a prime example (4, Insightful)

RunFatBoy.net (960072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957925)

I am constantly suprised at the amount of traffic Craig gets with his horrific design. It's cluttered, the colors are lacking, and lacks any personality. It's just a big blob of links.

But then I remind myself that above all else, it's functional and has enough content to trump any bad design decisions. Content will always trump design. Even bad design.

-- Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net]

something seems 'fishy' allright... (5, Insightful)

EddieBurkett (614927) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957926)

Why do I have a feeling that this was all just an ad for plentyoffish.com? I mean, why not get a bunch of undersexed males to visit a page promising free matchmaking with plenty of pictures of cute women? The whole 'story' about ugly websites is really inconsequential. (And plentyoffish isn't all that ugly, IMHO.) I'm starting to get the feeling we've all fallen for this hook, line, and sinker.

Re:something seems 'fishy' allright... (2, Informative)

nywanna (960908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957965)

Plenty of Fish was an example on Threadwatch and Webmasterworld, so it was an easy example - nothing more. I could have used one of my ugly sites, but then again, that would have to be admitting that it was an ugly site. :)

Re:something seems 'fishy' allright... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957988)

The peculiar way the blurb switches from "I quickly realized" to "according to the article" would tend to support your theory. Pretty clever, if true, though.

Here's two examples: (4, Informative)

MSBob (307239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957936)

http://www.ebay.com/ [ebay.com]
http://www.amazon.com/ [amazon.com]

Butt ugly, horrible backends and still rolling in dough.

Re:Here's two examples: (3, Insightful)

sehryan (412731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958078)

Those sites weren't that bad looking when they were first set up mid- to late-90s. The problem is that they are *so* popular, that changing the interface, even slightly, could result in tremendous user backlash.

Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Article Text (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14957942)

Ugliness has never looked better. I have spent the last few days examining a surprising trend in web design that has made ugly websites look absolutely irresistible. No, its not the bolded, 18 point Times New Roman font shouting at me as I access the page that has me excited, nor is it the harsh colors that have actually managed to make my eyes hurt and distort my vision. In fact, its not even that logo which is so pixelated from being processed, resized, saved, and edited so many times that it appears to be blurred to protect the identity of the company who owns the website that has me singing the praises of ugly websites. What is it?

Ugly sells.

That's right - ugly websites are surprisingly effective in making money. As a person who puts business before technology, a profitable website is a website is an unbelievably attractive website to me.

The Case of Plenty of Fish

I was struck by an example of just how effective ugly websites can be this past week as I was browsing through some web related news. I stumbled across the story of Plenty of Fish. This is a very plain looking website that offers a free online dating service much like Match.com (but without the subscription fee). There was nothing specifically impressive about the website that stood out to me, in fact the site was actually rather ugly.

What caused me (and I am sure several other people) to take a second look at the website was its reported earnings. It is reported that this website brings in over $10,000 from Adsense - in one day. Yes, you did read that correctly. For those of you counting, that is $300,000 per month and nearly one million dollars in just three months.

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?

The Ability to Convey Trust

A while back I wrote an article on Controlling Your Visitors Eyes. The main point to this article was that you have less than a second to convey your marketing message to your visitor, and that every aspect, from your font selection, to the colors, navigation, and layout of your website play a part in conveying your marketing message.

When I wrote this article, I had beautiful, CSS designed websites in mind. The idea of an ugly website could present a positive message never crossed my mind. 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.

As Internet professionals, we often forget that a large part of our society is actually afraid of the Internet. Although online shopping is growing, most people still have concerns about online security and the impersonal nature of the web. Most people do not know how to surf efficiently and use only the default tools that are given to them when they take their computer out of the box.

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.

Function Over Form

Although the above theory holds true in many examples, I believe there is more to the success of ugly websites than just conveying trust. Many of the websites that I referenced above have one underlying trait that can be attributed to their success: they are extremely easy to use.

Google is probably the best example of how functionality over form can lead to success. When Google initially launched, every other major search engine was in the process of transforming themselves into a portal that would offer users all the information they could possibly want, and probably more than they really would want. Google, on the other hand, made their website ridiculously simple. There is one purpose to Google - to search the web. Nothing else was there to distract you from this one goal. It certainly did not hurt that Google was able to serve up relevant results, but the simplicity of the system was key to winning over users.

Sites like Drudge Report and Craigslist can also trace much of their success back to their functionality. Drudge Report is a very simple website that is essentially a collection of links to news stories. Most of the time, the Drudge Report does not even link over to content on their own website. Users who wanted an interesting collection of links to various news stories could find them all on one simple page. Craigslist also boasts simplicity. The website is simple to browse, simple to post, and simple to use. Because of its simplicity, it grew.

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.

Ugliness By Application - Not By Rule

Although ugly websites are often easier to use and can convey a unique sense of trust, ugliness is not a rule that should apply to all websites. In fact, the vast majority of websites can be improved by adding formatting and focusing on good site design principles.

There are two general rules that you must keep in mind when building your website: 1) What type of message will resonate with my visitors, and 2) Is the site easy to use?

Knowing the answer to the first question is knowing what type of visitors you are trying to reach. Are your visitors web-savvy and thus looking for a well-designed website? Are your visitors uncomfortable with the impersonal nature of the web and are just looking for a simple website that is easy for them to use? Are your visitors scared of using online payment processing, or do they prefer the convenience of paying online where they do not have to talk to a person?

The second question is a rule that should apply to every website: functionality is more important than the design of your website. This does not mean, however, that a beautiful website cannot be easy to use. What this does mean is that you should never sacrifice the usability of your website for a fancy design effect or a more visually appealing website.

In Conclusion - Its Not Necessarily Ugliness That Sells

As website owners, it is very easy to get caught up in the design of our websites. We want to present our businesses to visitors in the best way possible, and as we get familiar with web technologies and design techniques, it is easy to focus solely on the design of a website from the standpoint of what looks good rather than the message our website conveys.

What we need to keep in mind, is that websites are meant to be used - used for reading, used for network, used for shopping, etc. Websites, like any other marketing tool, convey a message and are an invitation for visitors to trust us. Our design needs to reflect this.

Take a moment today to look over your website. Is it really easy to use? Have you been more worried about the look of your website than its functionality? Would it be more effective if it were simpler in its design?

Not about ugliness at last (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957946)

After having RTFA (which deprived me of the first post, but you gotta make sacrifices in life), I conclude that although some ugly sites are successful, unlike what you may think until you get to the half of TFA, ugliness has nothing to do with it, it's all about being simple and useful.

I'm just saying that, at first I thought when I saw that that ugliness was a good thing, but it has almost nothing to do with all that.

Form and functionality. (2, Insightful)

keilinw (663210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957949)

I've seen plenty of "pretty" websites that are absolutely worthless. This only goes to show that aesthetic appeal is NOT the most important factor in website development. Function -- comprising primarily of layout, usability, accessibility, platform, type, etc -- is the CORE of a good website design. Also, don't forget about content!

It is almost like a pyramid with content and functionality being the foundation for a good website. On top of the pyramid is the "polish" or aesthetic design. I'm sure that we'll all agree that aesthetics and human computer interactions (usability, flow, etc -- the stuff that Apple is notorious for) are also very important.... but, like anything else, it is a blend of form AND functionality. What good is a website if it ONLY works on Opera? What good is a great UI if there is not functionality? You get the point.

Now what would be quite interesting is to apply these concepts to people! As we all know, looks aren't everything! But hey, that certain polish certainly makes a difference.

Matthew K. Wong http://www.themindoffmatthew.com [themindofmatthew.com]

Hmm... (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957951)

Their website must be *very* extremely successful [imageshack.us] , then.

It's about simplicity, not ugliness (5, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957954)

Man, he doesn't come out and call Google ugly, but he implies it. He doesn't get it. It's really about the simplicity, rather than the aesthetics. Simple websites that provide people a real service *work*.

I remember working for a major shipping company and the marketers were just discovering the web. People used our website because they wanted to know where there packages were. *Now*. The marketroids were looking at ways to keep people glued to the site longer so they could sell them more services. We had to constantly battle to keep the tracking as simple as possible so that people could get on and get off quickly.

Define 'Ugly' (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957956)

Ugly as in "mauve character on fushia background, with 3 dozen generic animated GIFs you've seen 1 million times" or Ugly as in "Plain undecorated Arial with no graphics whatsoever" ?

Re:Define 'Ugly' (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958038)

ugly as in $2 schenectady whore

I guess the truth is.. (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957960)

I guess the truth is: That if you post an article on your web site to slashdot, your web site will serve up really ugly "Maximum connections exceeded" and "mysql server has gone away." messages!

I mostly agree (5, Insightful)

drhamad (868567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957966)

I mostly agree with the article, but I'd rephrase it. This is not about "ugly sells" but rather about "simple sells." Having flashy pages simply distracts from the message. But having nicely formatted text can be nice. eBay or Google may be "ugly," but more accurately they're simple (although I sort of disagree about eBay). Google doesn't load up its page with tons of junk, as does Yahoo... and that's probably why I use Google.

One thing I really disagree with is the articles talk about trust, how people feel they can trust an ugly website more than a nice one. Here, personally, I think that if somebody can't afford nice webdesign, they can't afford good web security. That being said, this is where my rephrase comes in again - simple and clean design leads me to trust a site more than does flashy sites.

To be fair, the article does talk about simplicity a lot... I just feel that it points to ugliness instead of simplicity as the driving factor, and that's not quite correct. Simple sites may be ugly, but they don't have to be - and if they're not, simple and clean is better than simple and ugly.

Re:I mostly agree (1)

nywanna (960908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958138)

I would agree that Simplicity is the more important factor - however, there is the point that ugliness can send a unique message of 'trust'...

contetn (0, Redundant)

Fredrik Leijon (609309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957982)

is king ?

MySpace... (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957991)

The one site in particular that sticks out in my mind has having particularly bad design is MySpace [myspace.com] . Total information overload, poor organization of content, and horrible horrible backend code (servers are slow as molasses, and my sessions are frequently expired inexplicably).

I understand that it's a 'community' site, but I honestly don't feel a part of that at all. It's difficult to build a huge online community unless users can selectively segregate themselves into groups. This is part of the reason why Facebook and Flickr are both extremely successful.

Granted, there are ugly sites with truly great content [aintitcool.com] that balances out the fact that the site's rather ugly. Likewise, there are a host of very pretty sites that are lacking in the content department.

Although I used to consider myself more of an content guy and the type of guy who uses the command line for most tasks, I find myself gravitating toward sites that although they may not offer as many features, are easier to use, and are visually appealing. Flickr is probably the best example of this. With CSS, there is no excuse to have a poorly designed site. CSS makes it ridiculously easy to propogate an attractive design across your entire site. If you already know basic HTML, you can pick up all the CSS you need to know in a few days. Likewise, CSS also means people can finally stop using Photoshop as a design tool.

With CSS, formerly ugly sites can make themselves pretty [dansdata.com] with very little effort. Slashdot went to great lengths with their stylesheet to make sure they preserved the old ugly layout.

Re:MySpace... (1)

Webz (210489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958128)

While I hate user anecdotes as much as the next guy, I gotta say, as a former web designer (I still am, but the current hat I wear limits my design in the workplace), the use of CSS does not exclusivise (?, make exclusive) one from the use of Photoshop. Photoshop is an excellent program that the vast majority of web designers use, usually as a precursor to hammering out designs by hand (the web is still primarily a visual medium in terms of what it delivers to end users). Rapid prototyping in a 2D layout is way easier in Photoshop.

If anything, CSS has enforced better mark-up and a ton of consistency in otherwise poor design. But it's no silver bullet, you can still have sucky CSS. And Photosthop will always be around, to help or hinder.

Working for Google (4, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14957997)

I think there are some very good points here. I've always valued functionality over form and beauty. (I own ten year old cars, for example.)

But it's interesting to me that he defines success as making a lot of ad revenue. My websites do not exist to get me revenue. They exist to build communities. Somebody else might have yet another definition of success for his website. I think the general principles raised are true no matter what the purpose of your site is, but I find it interesting that some people don't see a point for their site other than "make a lot of money carrying Google ads." More power to them if they can ... it means they are providing something people want, financing it through advertizing, and making a bundle along the way. It's just not my purpose in having a website.

How about open source online dating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958009)

Not yet released, but looks promising. Simple look, with css-zengarden like potential.

http://www.opendating.org/ [opendating.org]

Its not the look of a website (3, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958015)

Its the content.

Slashdot ain't that pretty, honestly. But what draws people here is the content. PlentyOfFish is a dating service, that is free, and there are lots of people looking for love out there.

The quality of the website can't be judged by how good or bad it looks. Just like a book cover or people, beauty rarely is the sole reason something is ever successful or popular.

Some of the best looking websites out there don't get an audience because the content sucks or is irrelevant.

If you have a website that is making tonnes of money, why bother wasting any of it to glam it up?

That website isn't ugly. It's simple. That's good. (5, Interesting)

javaxman (705658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958019)

I'm sorry... a simple web page does not usually mean an ugly web page.

What's so ugly about that web page ? The colors are pleasing, the eye flows down the page, the content is easy to navigate. What did you want, a stupid Flash splash screen ?

My idea of an ugly web page is one with lots of dancing sausage, banner and other ads not only at the top but down the side, a web page where you just don't know what to look at, with an unpredictable mishmash of colors and unrelated content. I like a simple, fast loading web page better than some flash/javascript/rollover-magic animated slow-loading mess. Somehow I'm not shocked that a simple web page often does better than a complex one. The only people shocked to learn simple, organized groupings of information are more popular than some complex ones are graphic designers and such who are too impressed by their own tricks.

Form fitting function- that's beauty in design.

What is an 'ugly' website? (4, Insightful)

tehshen (794722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958030)

My personal website is all divs and styles, without any images. Any website that strays too far from this is, to me, ugly (and looking at some of the posts, I guess others are of the same opinion), especially if it's linking to ads.

I know people who are jumping on Bandwagon 2.0 and insisting that all websites should be AJAXified (ugh), and must have flashy graphics and rounded corners, and if you don't do that then your page is all boring and ugly.

There are also art people who spend all the time making their page look nice and don't actually put their content first. Their page might not be ugly, but it's not usable either.

Then there are the people who think HTML is ugly and go with Flash. Bastards.

The point of this long post is that a page may be 'ugly' to you but 'nice' to someone else. To all those people citing Google or Maddox as examples, 'simple' != 'ugly' - you may like it, and it may not be too flashy, but there are plenty of simple and ugly websites out there. (Green text on green background anyone?)

Not to mention, that the people who spend more time offering services and writing content than caring about the design might actually have more of a clue of what they are doing.

Alas some do not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958037)

This monster [clearlybusiness.com] for example

Advertising Design (1)

kartaron (763480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958063)

Since I cant connect to the site Ill presume to know what it might say.

Ad design firms and artists want a subtle and beautiful presentation. The customer might appreciate the subtleties of the design but they also want to find the necessary information quickly and effeciently. If your page is beautiful but the customer cant find what they were looking in around for in around 3 - 8 seconds they will move on. The same is true in television ads and physical signs. Too much subtlety fails to convey the message at all. Ugly sites with blinking text are anything but subtle. Of course your screaming headlines get attention. On the other hand, too many agressive colors or bold fonts and your design becomes unreadable, which causes the reader to be confused about your message. Rather than struggle through your presentation the reader will more likely try to find a more legible site.

Finding a nice balance between beauty and function is the struggle.

Simplicity (1)

dvdsmith (892766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958104)

For those unable to RTFA due to it being slashdotted, the gist is that Simplicity sells over flashy design.

On that subject, am I the only one who detests flash animation? In my experience, it can be difficult sometimes to convince a website owner they may want to keep it simple when their competitors have a bunch of pomp and flash all over. Such sites annoy the h*ll out of me when I just want some information.

Pretty eh? (1)

Dimentox (678813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958106)

Well, I find sites that are simplistic and not full of graphics easier to use. Plain and simple.. google.. Google being simplistic and powerfull is what made me choose it over yahoo, msn etc. I used to use webcrawler.com back in the day, why? cause it was simplistic. It was darn ugly but i got what i wanted and fast. You look at the sites you use day to day.. do you find that you tend to like the more functional ones or the pretty ones that leave you going where is x or where is y. With most stuff today ie games, applications etc, i want simplicity, power, and functionality. With eye candy you can make the website/app more complicated and in the end counter intuitive to use.

I thought disclosing AdSense revenue... (5, Funny)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958123)

...was a breach of Google's AdSense contract?

PS I have an ugly site. Can I have a front page link too? Thanks!

"about your website" actual spam received (1)

Bloody Peasant (12708) | more than 8 years ago | (#14958148)

Heh. I knew I kept this spam for a reason. It sort of reeks of "all your base..."

From: (spammer address snipped)
To: "" webmaster@ (my address snipped)
Subject: about your website
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 19:14:45 +0000


Do not show ugly website to people! Make cool website.
Let it start here - www.(snipperoo... no free spammer advertising)

Website templates are here for your website. Use most
advanced design concept from the best designers.
Become the best amoung other websites. Use the
best designers in the world.

(spammer name redacted)
Marketing DIRECTOR
www.(spammer url removed) / asian dup foundation.

So, there you have it, people. Sage advice from a spammer. :-)

Another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14958151)

Ok, so this isn't really "ugly", but the way that they designed the website forces you to use Internet Explorer only? That's just down right dirty.

http://www.mapleglobal.com/ [mapleglobal.com]

Technical reasons, my ass!
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