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12 Responses to “7 on the Ugly Scale”
Nathaniel Bibler wrote:

While I can understand the Ugly Websites article that’s been floating around, it is arguably very short-sighted.

Do you trust an “ugly website” which is performing for you a free service (i.e. Plenty of Fish)? Sure, there’s really no reason to not. But, in PoF’s case, their business model is entirely different than most. PoF is not making money directly from their users, but instead, making money from their advertisements. This, incidentally, means they’re actually getting a profit off of convincing people to leave.

Now, take the same “ugly websites” and start asking people for credit card information, personal address information, or even survey information with personal identification tied to it. Once we start asking for “valuable” information, we’re now talking about something else, entirely.

Ugly websites might gain a user’s trust when the service they perform is minimal, but as soon as the ugly website wants $50 out of your pocket, I would contend that for as much trust as there might have been before, there will quickly become an equal amount of skepticism.

Zzedar wrote:

I don’t know that I’d agree that Myspace is ugly. It’s plain, yes, but reasonably attractive.

H. M. wrote:

I don’t think myspace is ugly by default… it’s just people customize it so it looks terrible!

Andrew Kurtz wrote:

There is overwhelming evidence that shows improving the aesthetics of an interface will improve the perceived usability and pre-use attitudes about an application. HCI research has also shown that the beauty of an interface can reduce the influence of usability problems and can cause users to perceive an application as better than it really is. Good aesthetic design will certainly have a positive influence on user perceptions. But, good aesthetic design does not always mean complicated and graphical. Simple text-based interfaces can be well designed and aesthetically pleasing.

Also, it’s too simplistic a view to state that the success of a website is based on it’s appearance. The functionality and utility of the application are very important. As is how emotionally/socially/financially compelling it is.

It is true that the aesthetic design of an interface should not interfere with the functionality, but it’s no longer valid to design with the mindset that function must always rule over form. Today’s user expects both form and function.

Paul Brown wrote:

I would tend to agree with Nathaniel; do you trust Alertbox’s advice because the layout is plain (I would disagree with ugly - it’s more minimist than ugly)? No, you trust the advice because:
a) Jakob Nielsen is a well known expert in his field
b) The advice and information in the column has been proven correct before
c) The findings are logically inferred from actual evidence
d) The alertbox column is free (instant brownie points), but the actual reports themselves cost fairly big money.

The last one is probably one of the most important, since no-one in business trusts anything that is completely free, but at the same time no-one wants to pay out for advice without knowing that it will be of sufficient quality. NNG’s business lends itself that kind of credibility through Alertbox, and

The plain layout does imply a “no nonsense” attitude, but given the quality of the information on offer I would be willing to wade through several of the “worst interface” winners to get to it. Newcomers might doubt, however, that Dr Nielsen knew what he was talking about.

rob metzgar wrote:

beauty is in the eye of the beholder…..

Wetting myself with laughter wrote:

You boys are in /so/ much trouble! (Regarding final panel of comic.)

Have you no decency? No respect? Good!

Chris McEvoy wrote:

What synchronicity!

I have just published my latest usability related experiment “What if Jakob Nielsen had a blog?”.

You can read about it at

and you can see the result at

Kevin Cheng wrote:

Have you no decency? No respect?

Do we really need to answer that? =)

Jakob Nielsen wrote:

No, they are not in trouble. I can take a joke.

Dustin Diaz wrote:

Jakob, as if a joke on your design skills hasn’t been made before. I’m sure we’re all aware now that you have pretty thick skin.

Allison wrote:

“Today’s user expects both form and function.”

That sounds like too simplistic a view of usability. At least on the principles can be applied to a variety of user interfaces, not just websites.

Take cellphones for instance. It seems as if form is overwhelmingly controlling function; while function (e.g., “Please work!”) is a secondary issue to manufacturers.

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?