My thoughts on Gerry McGoverns article “The Best Websites are Useful and Ugly”

It’s the year 2010, I am hoping to graduate from NYCCT with a Bachelor Degree in Advertising/ Graphic and Web design before the summer hits. Now if I look back to my early days and my limited skill on web and graphics,  I can’t help but to laugh. I have still a lot to learn in this graphic and web industry but at least now I believe I have the basic knowledge on the do’s and dont’s of web design and have some clue about good design vs bad design, what should work and what shouldn’t.

Now a days an ugly website would be a site that is so basic that it almost has no design, no style. Google’s home page for instance. Its simple and right to the business, few artist and designers would laugh at it. Craigslist is another example. However as the author of the article “The Best Websites are Useful and Ugly” Gerry McGovern states, the ugliest of the bunch such as Google, Craigslist, eBay etc are actually rolling at the top of the list in being successful.

His theory starts off by explaining how nice and elegant is not required to bring success, its functionality and usefulness which does.  He explained more with an example of  grand canyon, which  is a place of beauty, but to actually live their like a normal city would be tough, due to inaccessibility. “The things we think are the most beautiful are often the least useful in a practical and functional sense.” He backs that up by saying how gold and diamond rings are beautiful but they serve little to no purpose on practical functionality.

He believes more beautiful the design gets (particularly on websites), harder it becomes to keep it easy and functional. He uses as an example to show how an ugly and simple website,  was useful enough to have many of its 42 million passengers  book their tickets directly on, simply because it was a simple to understand and easy to use which led to a smooth transaction both for the company and the customers.

He uses a great logic on how most web designers focuses on making their design look cool, by having gray texts and smaller font size, instead of having black  and bigger font size. Reason being, smaller and grayer font looks “visually appealing” oppose to big and black font, which would “dominate the page” and “stand out” too much.

So in his conclusion he sums it up by saying “The fact is we don’t spend our time looking at websites. We spend our time reading and using them. There are three things a great web design must be: useful, useful and useful.”

So after reading and dissecting the article, I some what understand what he means. I believe, style and usefulness both should be considered to the fullest extents. I understand how a simple and easy to read website would be perfect for general audience, but sooner or later people will lose interest and in long run chances of loosing fellow visitors will be highly likely as they discover the same information on a much more cooler site which is visually more appealing.

We are humans and we get bored easily, so to keep our interest on things, it is necessary to keep us entertained, and in the web industry visual aspect is definitely something that should be prioritize. It’s all about competition now, leaving opportunities for your competitors to improve on things will lead to stealing your audiences as well.

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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