Ugly Hurts.

28 April 2006  •  Filed under ,

You know, I’m getting pretty tired of bad designers or non-designers telling me how to do my job. I do this for a living, you know. Every day. I am fully aware of what my job entails and what demands I need to balance. But rather than get up to my elbows in manure, let me just put some ideas out there from people I think actually know what they’re talking about:

Positive affect makes people more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible and creative in finding solutions. Products designed for more relaxed, pleasant occasions can enhance their usability through pleasant, aesthetic design. Aesthetics matter: attractive things work better. – from Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better by Don Norman

…dismissing visual design as just a matter of “making things pretty” cuts off your ability to communicate with your customers at the knees. Design is a solution to communication not mere styling. – from Make it Ugly by Luke W.

Bad design harms business, it does not help it. Websites like Boingboing, Google and eBay are successful in spite of their poorly designed sites, not because of them. What kills me is that I continue to see designers, some of them professionals, buying into this drivel and helping to perpetuate it. This whole business of contemplating the elusive wisdom of bad design and ugly layout is amateur hour on parade. – from Hungry? Want another bullshit sandwich? by Andy Rutledge (at

Have a great weekend. Keep the internet classy.


Rob Mientjes » 29 April 2006 #

I agree, lots. Good to see you’re not diving into the discussion. Sometimes things aren’t worth the discussion, especially when one side is an attack; responding to attacks is, well, pretty much the same as how one acts towards bullies during high school ;)

Yeah. Not worth the trouble. My clients don’t think good design doesn’t matter, nor do their clients. The relevance of such discussions evaporates easily then, I tell you.

Wade Winningham » 29 April 2006 #

A long time ago a friend of mine, who happened to be an art director, and I had a conversation regarding a similar topic. He told me “Not everyone’s a programmer, but everyone is an art director.”

Jared Christensen » 29 April 2006 #

Wade – Meaning, I suppose, that everyone has an opinion about what looks good to them. I agree. But design is not art direction. Art direction may be a component of design, but it’s not the end-all. Design is a multifaceted thing of which visual aesthetics is only a portion.

I know—I don’t have to preach to you. ;)

Garrett » 1 May 2006 #

I would argue that Google is very well designed. While it’s not the most aesthetically beautiful piece of art, I find gmail and calendar excessively easy to use and understand.

luxuryluke » 1 May 2006 #

About time someone said it like it is, again. Thanks.
I’ve had enough of people saying that they will design their site like Craig’sList, simply because Craig didn’t really ‘design’ the site and “I don’t need to rely on a designer, either”, etc., etc.
If you simply wanna be cheap and mediocre, fine by me. As SpongeBob says: “Good luck with that!”

Jared Christensen » 1 May 2006 #

Garrett – I don’t know about “excessively easy to use,” but yes—Gmail is pretty well designed. And it benefits from a fair amount of visual design as well: fading indicators, color coding, clear system messages, etc. Without that visual design layer, I’m pretty sure Gmail would suck.

Jen » 3 May 2006 #

Nice site! I’ve found the people who are on the “ugly” side of the debate are those who can’t do “pretty.”

It does amaze me though how much business those that design “ugly” get.

jon » 12 May 2006 #

Good to see another guy that is not afraid to use pink on his site. Keep it real, and I totally agree that ugly does hurt.

Alex » 12 May 2006 #

Great points, the reality is, if it looks like crap its hard to buy into. I mean thik of tv, movies, videos games, cloths, etc. The way they look, makes a difference (in dollars!).

Matt » 7 June 2006 #

Google’s design is pretty mediocre. The apps that they’ve given love to, like GMail, are all right, but the ones that suck suck hard. Have you tried to use their RSS reader? I spent half an hour with the thing and still don’t know how it works.

More than that, Google has dozens of applications that almost no one knows about, because their design prohibits them from linking to them.,, (A++ would click again)... you’ve really got to trawl around their site to figure out even half of what they have available.

(derail over)

© Jared Christensen

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