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Craigslist: An Aesthetic Abomination And Not The Daily Killer Everyone Thinks
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Craigslist’s theoretical valuation, I have a few other points to make regarding the classified behemoth.
First of all (and I am fully aware of how old, tired, and overplayed this comment will be), the site remains one of the great aesthetic abominations on the web today. I know this specific critique of Craigslist has been beaten to death, but every time I go to the site, I am re-amazed at how atrocious it is. It’s just awful, and I actually think it is getting worse. And because of the fact that the design is intentionally horrific, it should stand as a massively offensive affront to everyone who even touches, however remotely, the space(s) that Craigslist occupies. It’s just inexcusable.
The site is also a technological travesty. I’ll admit (happily) that I don’t use the site a ton, and this critique will be superficial at best, but how can a company like Craigslist not have a search box on its homepage? How can you start a new blog and not deliver an RSS feed for it? And it wasn’t until recently that the site finally appears to have at least made an attempt to segregate personals from job opportunities, but the job listings are still a mess.
And lastly, in virtually every article I’ve read in the past 5 years about the death of the daily newspaper industry, Craigslist is the almost always the only company credited for having ripped classifieds away from the dailies. It happened again recently in one of the best articles yet on the demise of the dailies (Out Of Print, March 31st, New Yorker). Author Eric Alterman, refuting a Guardian article entitled ‘Not Dead Yet,’ states, “Perhaps not, but trends in circulation and advertising – the rise of the internet, which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising – have created a palpable sense of doom.”
Nearly every article on the topic cites Craigslist in similar fashion and no doubt, the classified site has done much to fundamentally transform the classified business on the web. I’d even say they delivered some crushing body blows to the newspapers. But rather than solely grabbing market share from the dailies, Craigslist has dramatically expanded the classified market by offering free classifieds in most of its cities. The vast majority of listings on Craigslist today were not past advertisers in the dailies. Nor have the dailies ever run ‘erotic services’ ads or personals, at least as far as I know (though that could change any day now given how desperate they are for revenue).
The real damage to the dailies’ classified business has come from the thousands of punches delivered by sites like Monster, Yahoo, Google, and the 50,000 other job boards that have come online (including Craigslist and JobDig and LinkUp). Somewhat less so, but important nevertheless, has been the pain inflicted by the free weekly jobs newspapers (like JobDig, the Employment Guide, JobFinderUSA, and Job News, for example) that are published in metro markets around the country.
Make no mistake, and as I stated unequivocally yesterday, Craigslist is an awesome web site that delivers incredible value to its users. It also stands as one of the true ‘paradigm-shifting’ sites on the web today. And they are clearly one of a handful of 800-pound gorillas stomping around the classified playing field. But Craigslist is still ugly, it is still lacking technologically, and it is not the daily killer that everyone credits the site for being.
[tags]Craigslist, Online Classifieds, Daily Newspapers, Who Killed The Dailies, Free Jobs Weeklies, Free Jobs Newspapers, The Employment Guide, JobDig, LinkUp, JobFiderUSA, Job News, Monster, Yahoo, Google, New Yorker, Out Of Print[/tags]