A colleague once asked me why Craigslist had become so successful with such bad design. Craigslist is a complicated company without a ton of information online. It doesn’t employee many people and has made a good deal of money. On the surface, it looks ugly. However, it has been very popular.
One thing I have been thinking for years is that aesthetics takes a disproportionate amount of credit/attention/focus by many people including designers. Craigslist is successful BECAUSE of it’s UX. This doesn’t mean it’s UI. Learn what the words mean.
I’d love for design schools to use Craigslist as a case study because it is difficult to understand. I’d love to for designers to get past the aesthetics and understand why something succeeds or fails and how to contribute towards that. Personally, I think the UX of Craigslist was brilliant and long lasting. It’s hard to tell how long it will last, but it has made its investors (Craig Newmark mostly) a boatload of money.