What might be a surprise to some is that the ugly website you just laughed at was actually made that way intentionally. It might sound unbelievable to some that this could form any part of a company’s digital marketing strategy, but it’s true. There are companies going out of their way to make ugly websites.
So why is this the case and why does this suck for personal branding?
The School of Brutalism
These ugly websites have a name known as the school of brutalism. Brutalism is a concept where a website is intentionally made to be ugly. They are designed to look like rough drafts of HTML websites. According to some of the coders involved in these projects, they didn’t abolish infinite scroll and many of the other best practices for the sake of it. They did it to show creativity.
You may be thinking that this has echoes of some form of modern art school. And like most modern art nobody is going to actually pay money for it and it serves no practical purpose. These projects are not designed to succeed in the business world.
Are they Trending?
It’s not true to say that these website designs are actually trending. We would go as far as to say that they are firmly within the minority and we’re not going to see the entire Internet transformed by these monstrosities anytime soon. But they are making some headlines.
What we’ve noticed is that none of these websites have actually managed to make any money. No business has actually made them into commercially successful entities. In terms of actually using them practically, that hasn’t happened, yet.
What is Brutalism?
The difficulty in actually defining the success of this school of web design is pinning down the rules. You have lots of different niches, and they don’t just apply to what you see in front.
One school is completely brutal. The code is difficult to read, or overly simple, and the front end of the website looks like something a child drew on a scrap of paper. This is brutalism in its purest form, and it comes as no surprise that no self-respecting business would use it as part of a marketing push.
Then there’s the site that uses best practices in coding to create a site that looks ugly. Again, these are down on usability and eliminate many of the user-friendly features we’ve become used to.
But there are those that have assumed minimalist web design is also an example of brutalism. Some commentators have come out to say that Craig’s List is an example of brutalism that has become commercially successful. We don’t buy into this idea because the site is easy to use it just uses minimalism in the same way that Google uses minimalism. It’s something different.
Best Practices are There for a Reason
The ugly website design movement smacks of teenage rebellion. There are lots of established best practices governing web design and some people have decided to break rank to do the exact opposite. It’s like a group of teenagers doing exactly what their parents told them not to.
But we have to remember why best practices were invented. It didn’t consist of a group of people believing that they had to tame the wild world of web design. Every best practice became a best practice because of the results the community was getting from their target markets.
For example, 86% of users want to see detailed information about a company’s products and services the moment they hit the homepage.
And these best practices are changing all the time. When a new trend comes in and another one dies, those best practices change. By going against them you are going against what your target audience wants. There’s nothing big and clever about doing that.
By ignoring the whims of your target market, the chances are you are going to suffer for it. You’re going to lose out on business because people aren’t going to put up with your trashy website.
So What is the Future of an Ugly Website?
The future of an ugly website isn’t a happy one. If you decide to go against established rules, you are ignoring your customers and what they want. There’s something to be said for being innovative, but when you are listening to what people are saying and then ignoring them that’s not good business.
Be innovative but don’t be stupid. You wouldn’t leave the house dressed in a trash bag, so why would you give your website the same treatment?