Does Ugly Design = Successful Website? Or do designers just see everything as a question of design?


Jon Lebkowsky is right, this is an eye-popping thought: Ugly design = successful website. It’s a controversial claim; and but that’s about all it is.

You needn’t know a thing about design, or websites to see why this claim is complete humbug. Observe the logic:

Premise 1: Myspace, google, and craigslist are successful websites

Premise 2: Myspace, google, and craigslist are badly designed

Conclusion: Therefore badly designed websites will be successful

The above argument is a textbook case of the questionable cause fallacy.

Examples of successful ugly websites were cherry picked to support the conclusion. What about Flickr? What about Basecamp? They aren't ugly, and yet they are... successful? O! Lord, what a contradiction of the original claim!

Maybe design is only one part of a whole list of factors that affect the chances of a website succeeding. And maybe, just maybe, the greater public has historically been clueless as to what constitues "quality" in the visual and musical realms. Some would argue that mediocrity makes people feel comfortable, and that which is great threatens them.[1] Thus, design != success when audience is huge, and, function over form dominates.

My name is Captain Obvious: faithfully reminding you that water is wet.


1. A Mr. Show episode