Ugly website designs can be effective

It has recently been discovered that an ugly website can be more effective than a professional looking site.

Simple or Unprofessional

There are a few reasons to why an ugly websites could have more success than a professional site

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Unprofessional look
  • Priorities

There is a striking difference between the reasons with one focusing on usability and another focusing on character and perception.


When it comes down to it, ugly sites often lack style, stunning graphics and have an inherently basic layout. All these can be in the sites favor if done correctly. The advantages that simplicity and a lack of style has are:

A simple design tends to not use the most recent innovations and breakthroughs. This means that older browsers can still access the website.
A more complex site will use images and layout techniques that disrupt a blind user's screen reader and prevent a disabled user from enlarging the font.
Can computers and search engines understand and search the website. The less flash, images and forms a website has, the easier it is to search.
A website with less graphics is faster to load and does not leave the user waiting. There will always be more people on the web with slow connections than fast connections, so think speed when designing.
A user will be able to understand how to navigate a simple website in less time. With some complex websites, a user might not find what they are looking for and leave the website.
Distracting Graphics
Moving items attract attention and unless it is the feature, it should not move. I have stopped visiting some websites just because I can not focus on their content when their page elements are moving.

Character and perception

Are all corporations out to make money? Well that is the way many of us feel these days. It seems that we have become wary of professional and corporate looking website as they often charge fees. 

Websites that do not look professional (and are uglier because of this) tend to look more home made and less 'out to make a buck'. They can say to the user:

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.

or with skill can say:

We are the cheapest around. What we don't spend on website design saves you money.


In the end, users are visiting your site for its content not for its look. You should spend more time on the function and content of your site and less on the form and design. The uglier and simpler your site is, the more time you save for attracting users with what they are looking for.

The first things that you should focus on are:

  • Content
  • Features
  • Functions

Once you have a lot of content and features, work on:

  • Usability
  • Logo Branding

Only when your site is successful and people start making criticism of your site in their blogs should you focus on:

  • Simple but good-looking design
  • Functions thet are aimed at the minority of your users
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