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As The Blu Dot Guys Say, “Good Design Is Good”
I have received a couple of comments from readers on my posts this week regarding the design of Craigslist. A few people have remarked that Craigslist deliberately and intentionally removes all design elements from their site and that their now-trademark aesthetic is 100% anti-design. While I agree with that sentiment entirely, the comments go on to say that to comment on how hideous the site is is beside the point. And with that, I vehemently disagree.
The point I was making (and it isn’t beside the point because it is specifically and precisely MY point – not Craigslist’s point, not any one of my reader’s point, nor anyone else’s, but mine. And because it’s my point, it can never be beside the point), is that Craigslist’s aesthetic is an absolute abomination. It may very well be beside Craigslist’s point. Actually, I am certain it is, and my guess is that that was what my commenters meant by it being ‘beside the point.’ But again, MY point is that it’s atrocious. Craigslist would agree. They want their design to be atrocious and they are extremely happy to continue to be a phenomenal success in that regard. But my point is that the site’s aesthetic is still atrocious.
And that sucks, because, as the geniuses behind Blu Dot say, good design is good. And I’d like to think that, everything else being equal, good design will always win out over poor design, at least eventually. Apple used to be the great exception to the rule (because their world-class, far-superior-to-anything-else-in-the-universe design wasn’t winning for a long time), but they too are now further proof of the universal law that good design wins. Craigslist is now perhaps the leading exception to the rule (though it would actually be the corollary to the rule – that bad design will always lose, eventually. Microsoft used to be the great exception, but they are now beginning to lose badly). I would say, however, that in Craigslist’s case, not everything is equal. But ignoring the fact that free creates a massively unlevel playing field and creates enormous leeway for horseshit design, I don’t like the fact that poor design has as much mind-share as Craigslist does.
That’s my point.