Landing Page Optimization: Why an Ugly Site Can Work In Your Favor

What do the websites Craigslist and PlentyofFish have in common? They won’t win any design awards. In fact, both can safely be referred to as simple and kind of ugly. When talking about landing page optimization, a big part of the discussion centers around design. Of course, it should be crisp and professional, with cool graphics and all the other bells and whistles that’ll draw visitors in and increase conversions.

And all of this is fine, but there’s something to be said for simplicity. For a second, let’s forget talk of heat maps, eye-tracking and search engine optimization – and focus on creating trust – which “ugly sites” can be quite good at.

Landing Page Optimization: “Ugly Up” to Increase Sales

Before we go further, let’s state exactly what we mean by ugly. Ugly doesn’t mean intentionally horrible design. It means simple, straight to the point and clear of a lot of the clutter we think a good landing page should have.

Sites that are simpler in design put forth an image, just like a site that is loaded with all the bells and whistles a top-notch designer can provide. But what they say to the customer is, we cater to your needs; we’re not a big, fancy, schmancy, company; and we don’t have the time (or staff) to create fluff.

Hence, our product/service is straightforward and to the point, much like our design.

When it comes to landing page optimization, you might call this “site typecasting.” Just like in Hollywood, when you want to convey “trust” you cast one type of actor, and it’s usually not the one that’s drop dead gorgeous, which can confuse, befuddle and intimidate a prospect – much like an over-the-top landing page. Sometimes, simple and homely does the job just fine.

Posted by PPCBlog in Pay Per Click Tips on October 21,2010


I agree with the post, when working for a client I always promote effectiveness of the page not the beauty aspect of the site. More than often we see very nice sites that just don’t convert becuase they are just nice, not effective.

Many blog follow this same tactic – a very simple, straightforward & linear layout. By keeping design elements simple and the value proposition and call(s) to action at the forefront, it is easier to retain visitors attention and help get them to convert.

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