Ugly sites make more money?

Posted on 4th April, 2006

I think Sabahan.com needs a face lift with a modern and pretty Web 2.0 theme but I have been putting this off because what’s more important at this stage is for me to create quality content and attract traffic. Besides, the current theme is good enough for my current needs. Clean and simple, the way I like it.

Anyway, in a somewhat related story, there’s a thread over at DigitalPoint which discuss about the advantage of ugly sites over pretty sites. The thread seems to be focused directly on the CTR of AdSense on ugly sites vs pretty websites.

The thread starts:

Here’s why I think ugly sites do better than expected:

It’s too easy to set up a “pretty” site. Just download one of the thousands of free forum scripts, CMSes, etc, and pick from the thousands of themes available, and you’re all set. Many of them have very pretty layouts with nice subtle touches of borders, bevels, gradients, rounded edges, yadda yadda yadda.

The result is that there are lots of these cookie-cutter pretty sites on the web with little to no content. Somebody puts WhateverNuke on autopilot, adds a few crappy articles, throws on some ads, and forgets about it. The menu is packed with links to feature-rich, well-designed sections with “No widgets have been added yet” where the content’s supposed to be. The web is cluttered with pretty, hollow skeletons of websites.

I think maybe web users are becoming conditoned to associate stylish designs with these hollow skeletons. And if that’s true, one way to a successful design may be to create a home-made feel. It isn’t that they’re ugly that helps; it’s that they look like somebody took some time to personally build them from scratch, and that means it’s likely they put a similar amount of care into the content. A custom site has something worth saying.

What do you think?

[via Search Engine Roundtable]
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  • Stu says:

    This is an interesting concept. Eric Giguere wrote an interesting article on the ugly single page site a few days ago, the idea is to SEO it up to the eyeballs on one keyword, submit it to the search engines, get a couple of backlinks and forget about it.

    I’ve tried this, and the results are quite interesting. The CTR is roughly double that of any of my other sites. (Now if only I could get some decent traffic to it! :-))

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