1. Advertising
    y u no do it?

    Advertising (learn more)

    Advertise virtually anything here, with CPM banner ads, CPM email ads and CPC contextual links. You can target relevant areas of the site and show ads based on geographical location of the user if you wish.

    Starts at just $1 per CPM or $0.10 per CPC.

The advantage of "ugly" over "pretty"

Discussion in 'AdSense' started by Troutnut, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. #1
    After reading the thread about Markus's ultra-successful free dating site, I had an idea about what makes an "ugly" (or "anti-marketing" as he calls it) design successful. I don't quite believe him that ugliness is the key, nor do I agree with those who think it's unrelated.

    (First, a disclaimer: I understand success ultimately comes down to what content/service you provide. This post tries to address the question: "Given the exact same content, what kind of visual appearance works best?")

    Here's why I think ugly sites do better than expected:

    It's too easy to set up a "pretty" site. Just download one of the thousands of free forum scripts, CMSes, etc, and pick from the thousands of themes available, and you're all set. Many of them have very pretty layouts with nice subtle touches of borders, bevels, gradients, rounded edges, yadda yadda yadda.

    The result is that there are lots of these cookie-cutter pretty sites on the web with little to no content. Somebody puts WhateverNuke on autopilot, adds a few crappy articles, throws on some ads, and forgets about it. The menu is packed with links to feature-rich, well-designed sections with "No widgets have been added yet" where the content's supposed to be. The web is cluttered with pretty, hollow skeletons of websites.

    I think maybe web users are becoming conditoned to associate stylish designs with these hollow skeletons. And if that's true, one way to a successful design may be to create a home-made feel. It isn't that they're ugly that helps; it's that they look like somebody took some time to personally build them from scratch, and that means it's likely they put a similar amount of care into the content. A custom site has something worth saying.

    Remember what Treebeard says in The Two Towers?

    Building websites from scratch takes a long time. It's boring. It's inefficient. It's the kind of tedium only undertaken by people who care about what they're doing. And that extra work is a kind of "quality assurance" for the reader, which probably increases their likelihood to explore or bookmark the site and their trust in its ads.

    I think usability, fast load times, and a reasonably pleasing design are of paramount importance. But perhaps those things are much more powerful coupled with a trustworthy home-made feel.
     
    Troutnut, Mar 26, 2006 IP
    petertdavis likes this.
  2. vprp

    vprp Peon

    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    5
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #2
    I really think it's about creating a site that serves a purpose. If you have that, then people don't care about the design. For example, Google. People come to Google to search and Google makes it easy for you to do so. Same as that dating site. People are there first and foremost to meet people. Make it easy for people to do so and they won't care if it's pretty or not.

    I think you can provide a service people want and make it look nice at the same time... but make a pretty Web site that nobody wants to visit and it will never succeed.
     
    vprp, Mar 26, 2006 IP
  3. jellyfish

    jellyfish Peon

    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    10
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #3
    I think when he refers to "ugly" he simply means un-sophisticated design. The color is still important, the font is still important, the placement is still important, but who cares about drop shadows?
     
    jellyfish, Mar 26, 2006 IP
  4. FireStorM

    FireStorM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    75
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    125
    #4
    Ugliness pays off sometimes .. Everything that shines does not mean Gold :D
     
    FireStorM, Mar 26, 2006 IP
  5. jackburton2006

    jackburton2006 Peon

    Messages:
    5,297
    Likes Received:
    282
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #5
    All nice and well, but I think it was pretty well documented in the other thread that the webmaster didn't get rich overnight, that he spent thousands on advertising, etc. So........ Ugly site, pretty site -- don't mean squat as long as you got money to promote, apparently. :)
     
    jackburton2006, Mar 26, 2006 IP
    ResaleBroker likes this.
  6. Sbabb

    Sbabb Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    1
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    #6
    Is his theory that an ugly site makes people want to click away immediately, so they click on his ads to leave?

    That might have some validity, but it might also make people click the "back" button, too.


    Scott
     
    Sbabb, Mar 26, 2006 IP
  7. mobilebay

    mobilebay Active Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    44
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    90
    #7
    i believe the key is to make a site that looks good enough to be trusted but not good enough to show you are making lots of money.
     
    mobilebay, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  8. Market-Trend

    Market-Trend Peon

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #8
    Tend to agree with you there...
     
    Market-Trend, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  9. Trisha

    Trisha Peon

    Messages:
    428
    Likes Received:
    7
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #9
    My site is home-made and not at all sophisticated. I tried using a posh design once on the home page to see what it would look like. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel like my site any more and it had lost its individuality. I think you should go with what feels best for you and what is appropriate to the content of the site. Having said that I'm not making a lot of money yet but the earnings are increasing steadily.
     
    Trisha, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  10. tryme1

    tryme1 Guest

    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    15
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #10
    There's been a lot made of this site and a lot of articles written, but it seems to me that the 'ugliness' or 'prettiness' debate is a bit of a red herring. Your design needs to appeal to your target market and, um, that's it, really. If you have a clothing site aimed at socialites/trust fund girls then the design is going to be very different from a clothing site that is selling wholesale, even if they have exactly the same products.
     
    tryme1, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  11. bambi

    bambi Peon

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #11
    I've had ugly sites and I've had pretty sites.

    What wins is this: the one with the most content delivered in the right way for the visitor, the fastest download time, the one that best solves the visitors problems and the one that conveys a sense of trust.

    It's not about the design - it's about the content.

    My most successful site ever cost me 20 cents (I got 100 ugly templates for $20 - and that was too expensive for these truly horrible designs!).

    Cheers

    bambi
     
    bambi, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  12. MaxM

    MaxM Peon

    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #12
    I'm going to have to lean in this direction myself. While a site may look like garbage, it's about their content and advertising to determine their popularity.
     
    MaxM, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  13. qwestcommunications

    qwestcommunications Peon

    Messages:
    8,870
    Likes Received:
    173
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #13
    The only reason why Markus is so successful with Plentyoffish is to do with the site's subject matter and has nothing to do with the way site is designed.
     
    qwestcommunications, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  14. livingfree

    livingfree Peon

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #14
    obviously it's the combination that worked here. What works for some won't work for others etc. As luck would have it, he just happened to have the right combination. :rolleyes:
     
    livingfree, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  15. ResaleBroker

    ResaleBroker Active Member

    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    50
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    90
    #15
    IMO, the two (2) most important factors are "Content" and "Promotion". If you have what they want and they know you have it then you're off to the races. ;)
     
    ResaleBroker, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  16. lonecrow

    lonecrow Peon

    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    5
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #16
    A thought occured to me that unsophisticated sites might help with user in sites that require user participation. If a site is too nice people might be a little inhibitated and feel shy about participating. In any case where the user might have a lack of self-confidence either because of technical inexperience, or posting a picture of themselves and saying "Im desperate date me" an unspohisticated site might help. IMEO
     
    lonecrow, Mar 27, 2006 IP
  17. chachacallis

    chachacallis Active Member

    Messages:
    1,087
    Likes Received:
    14
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    78
    #17
    He has done alot of promoting on his wesbite, so its not the fact that it is ugly that it is successful
     
    chachacallis, Mar 28, 2006 IP
  18. MaxM

    MaxM Peon

    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #18
    I can understand the idea being presented of the average web user growing tired of templates with no content. Though I think it maybe more loose than suggested.
     
    MaxM, Mar 28, 2006 IP
  19. Troutnut

    Troutnut Peon

    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    9
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    #19
    None of this quite addresses the question I was hoping to discuss. I know that content and promotion are more important than design (unless the design is absolutely terrible). But we don't have to choose between them.

    We do have to make a choice about how our websites should look. They will hold the same content and be promoted in the same way regardless of visual appearance. So, with the same content and same promotion, do you think a website would do better with a pretty, professional look, or a slightly ugly home-made look?
     
    Troutnut, Mar 28, 2006 IP
    ResaleBroker likes this.
  20. ResaleBroker

    ResaleBroker Active Member

    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    50
    Best Answers:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    90
    #20
    Excellent question. My answer would be "professional".
     
    ResaleBroker, Mar 28, 2006 IP