As you can see, I’ve changed theme here to this amazing design by Evan Eckard, published by Smashing Magazine. This is a good opportunity to ponder on the importance of a good design. More specifically, the relationship between effectiveness and aesthetics in web design.
Craigslist.com is ugly but wildly successful. Why? Because of its superior SEO qualities and the network effect that had a very long time to work its magic. And what about the way it looks? Apparently, no one cares. It’s functional, it works, and that’s what matters.
Can a website created today enjoy this luxury? probably not; the market is very different nowadays. It is almost impossible to build a site from scratch and get traffic based on SEO alone, because the keyword space (in nearly all niches) is densely populated. This leaves you with the option to either buy traffic or rely on PR (or social media PR), both require some level of site design. The chances of another Craigslist popping up are slim to none.
The bottom line – although good design can’t build a company, it’s a crucial ingredient. Unless, of course, it had the luxury of starting several years ago in a relatively vacant niche and slowly working its way up.