The more we need a website, the more we’re prepared to put up with a poor design.
Amazon’s layout is famously basic but effective. Consider the following after a search for paper towels:
And the appearance of the results for the same search on eBay also won’t be winning any design awards:
Amazon and eBay both offer clear and tangible benefits to their users, and so in a sense don’t need to develop the appearance of their websites.
Amazon seem instead to devote their efforts to cross-selling and upselling, while eBay offer more great (and safe) deals than any other website.
Which is why they can get away with ugliness and a dated design.
Yet both websites offer a far prettier front end. Both sites have better-designed and more attractive home pages.
If you rely on your website to impress visitors and turn them into customers, then an ugly interface and design simply won’t do it.