Web seer Robert Scoble claims "ugly design" or "anti-marketing design" works well for web sites, because people have become suspicious of sites that look too well put together. In a lot of ways, he's right.
Anyone who has been involved in direct marketing can tell you the most effective solicitation pieces aren't always the fanciest. They're the ones that slip past people's defences long enough to have an impact.
Graphic designer and all-round publishing guru Robert MacDonald used to tell me that the pitch letters that worked best for him were two or three pages long, with lots of words underlined. By Scoble's standards, they would rate as anti-marketing pieces, because they were made to look and read like they came directly from the keyboard of the hard-working head of a non-profit organization who didn't have time for fancy page design.
However, Scoble's use of Google as an example of ugly design is off base. It's a remarkably well-designed site, partly because they resist the temptation to load the site up with eye candy.
Pat McCarthy's advice is to focus on usability and search engine optimization first.
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