Why Ugly Designs Win

ksd. blog | Why Ugly Designs Win
A funny thing happens in User Experience: ugly designs win.

Odd looking CTA buttons. Disproportionate headings. Tightly packed sales forms. They win.

Sites like Craigslist and the old Reddit, with their ’90s throwback vibes… still winning.

Actually, let’s not say ugly. For the rest of this read, let’s use the word imperfect.

So, why is imperfect, perfect?

The Media Equation

Honestly, it’s complicated. And the fact that it’s not true 100% of the time makes it even more so. For now, I’ll just give my general take.

But before I do that, I need to point out an interesting fact about technology:

People respond to technology in the same way they respond to places, situations, and other people.

The emotional connections we have with the everyday are not unlike the emotional connections we experience while using our apps. All said and done, it’s personal.

This phenomenon is known as The Media Equation, by the way.

Varying expectations

Add to that the fact that we humans are a complicated bunch when it comes to our experiences (not to be confused with usability) — with expectations that vary from one situation to the next — and you can begin to see why imperfect is perfect.

For example, let’s say you want some bagels. You just ran out, and need to run to the store for more. Do you expect to be swept off your feet as you enter the parking lot, or do you just need a bag of bagels?

Now let’s say you’re shopping for a new car. And that salesperson at the dealership looks a little too slick. Would you engage in a sales conversation with this person, or would you hang back bit and continue browsing on your own?

Same goes in the digital space.

Again, this is my general take, and by no means an endorsement to go ugly your stuff up. I simply wanted to address this in order to give you a better sense for why it happens. And so that the next time your A/B results favor a less than desirable design, you know it’s not a fluke.

Don’t worry, I have every intention of diving deeper into this topic in the future.

Until next time,
K