Ugly Websites Win

Ian Lurie

Anonymous businessman with a box on his head offering a handshake.
Ugly websites work best. Think back on the most successful sites on the internet: Google? Ugly. Craigslist? Ugly. Ebay? Ugly. Yahoo? Most successful when they were ugly. Astonishingly ugly. And right behind them come,, etc.. None of these sites will win any design awards. They have faces only an investor could love.

These sites succeed because they put message and function first, form second. Land on Google and you see a search box. That’s it. On Craigslist you see lots of, well, lists. On Amazon you see products. There’s nothing between you and the reason you’re there.

Ugly sites work because they’re easy to use. And because the people who built them were more worried about satisfying visitors than their own egos.

When you’re redesigning your own site, and you’re about to tell your designer something like “I want people to get excited when they see our page”, remember this article. What you really want visitors to do is get excited when they see your product, or service. Right?

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action
Close search overlay