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Can an ugly site work?

Amazon has a pretty ugly site. It’s overloaded and cluttered. There are hundreds of places to click with several competing calls to action. In design school, their site would utterly fail. Back to the drawing board.

And yet, the site works rather well for Amazon, I’d argue.

So, who’s wrong?

Well, the better question to ask is: What’s wrong?

The metric is.

For Amazon, it’s not about elegance but about conversion. All that counts for Amazon is the numbers and the numbers tell them all they need to know about UX and UI design. If that’s true for you, your time is likely wasted if you obsess over beautiful.

But for others that might not be true. For them, it’s not all about conversion. It might be about trust, sustainability, elegance, quality, influence, reach, or any other metric.

It pays to be clear about your metric before you obsess about what to optimise.

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