4 Famous Ugly Websites And What We Can Learn From Them

By AnnMarie Minichiello
July 2, 2013

Some of the most visited websites that rake in the cash can be described as one word: ugly. When developing websites, eCommerce stores, and mobile responsive sites we of course get lost in the aesthetics. And why not? People will be staring at them and wondering if they should make purchases, employ the services, or believe the information that is put forth. When it comes to the internet and having highly visible websites, appearance is nearly everything, right? Well, when we review the biggest sites that make millions, some of them are down-right hideous looking. If a client were to bring some of these sites to us to redo, we’d explain that they were crap and ask if their little cousin did it for them for free. Ok, we wouldn’t be that harsh about it but you get the idea. We would make it more pleasing to the eye and give it some better organization, utilizing all techniques in our arsenal to give you a site you’d be proud of. But no one is bringing these 4 revolting sites to us…mainly because the owners are filthy rich. Also they have gained such a loyal audience, they wouldn’t think about jostling them with an updated design. Let’s discuss said websites and what we can learn from their ugliness….

1. eBay:

By our standards, they did everything wrong. They have a cluttered logo and the site is plastered with banners and browser buttons. When the site was launched back in 1997, they used this horribly offensive high school primary color scheme. Although it’s been toned down, we still think of the eBay logo with those bright colors. It’s still ugly even with all the updates but it is also one of the most recognizable sites in the world.
What we can learn from eBay:
People come to eBay to buy stuff and the site brings people to those things to buy quickly and easily. Its’ model is so understandable that anyone can use it…even my mother who can’t send a text message. The site is made so that people can buy and sell as quickly and easily as possible. If you are making an eCommerce store, take it from eBay and get people to where they want without a whole lot of hoopla.

2. Plenty of Fish:

This popular dating site has an estimated 11 million users with 20,000 new sign ups every day. Back in 2008 the site earned over $10 million with only a handful of employees…and the dating service is FREE. The site is cluttered and bland, without any flashy technology or depth.
What we can learn from Plenty of Fish:
Aside from the dating jargon, POF in its simplicity an enormous online community. Because it is free, it encourages anyone and everyone to sign up. If you are looking to start an online community, understand what people want more than anything else: having a ton of people to interact with for free. Instead of spending money on the flashy website, focus on giving the people what they want. You’ll make your money from selling ads like POF.

3.  Google:

Gasp!! Are we calling Google ugly? Well, yes, yes we are. We can be generous and say that it’s economical and simple if that makes you more comfortable. What it is, is minimalist to the max. And like eBay, it uses those high-school art class prime colors. Since its growing popularity (and capacity to make money) competitors have tried to launch more stylish and feature-rich layouts for a search engine. Despite their greatest efforts, Google reigns supreme as the king of the search engines! Suck it, Bing!
What we can learn from Google:
Remove all that clutter, you don’t need it and we don’t need to see it. When Google was launched its simplicity was a breath of fresh air compared to the packed home pages that everyone was used to. The key element we can take from Google is to find out exactly what your audience is looking for and make that the focus of your website. You don’t want to confuse new visitors so it is important to make the focus of the site clear.

4.  Craigslist:

Holy text-only Batman! There’s nothing to this site…no logo…no banners…nothing. There barely is any color. Since its inception in 1995, the site only changed to add more cities and countries. It’s a real get-in and get-the-heck-out type of site.
What we can learn from Craigslist:
If you have a site with a lot of text information, we first need to look at how to build the site so it makes sense to the visitor. Craigslist has become and has remained popular due to the easy to use category system that helps you find exactly what you want in mere seconds. The site may be ugly, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in functionality. It is designed to simply work…and it does. When you use Craigslist, you don’t have to subscribe, fill out a form or questionnaire, or dig around at all to find the precise thing you are looking for.

Sharing is caring.

Hey! Where Are You Going?

If you did not find what you are looking for in this article, get in touch with us!
We love talking web design, AdWords, SEO, and more!

No thanks, I'm heading out
I'd like to talk more!