Why I love ugly, messy interfaces — and you probably do too
Jonas Downey

OK… so we can go ahead and build overly-complex websites because a few websites have succeeded despite their shitty designs? I think this is a straw man argument. Facebook is actually a very simple UI with 1 primary feature: the news feed. Craigs List is ugly, but again, not complex - the home page is really just a huge mega-nav. Photoshop is software with a long history for power users, and therefore an apples to oranges comparison.

True, those UIs have a somewhat outdated look (hugely outdated for Craig’s list), because a major redesign is a huge risk for an established player. But the usability for key tasks is quite good. This argument confounds aesthetics and usability, which in most cases have very little to do with each other.

So while I agree that a lot of websites designed by design-centric shops value aesthetics over usability, usability is a separate issue that has nothing to do with the look and feel of a site. And usually complexity and clutter on the front end reduce usability.

New designs or major redesigns especially have to focus on making their functionality readily learnable and usable, which usually means the appearance of simplicity. This does not mean that the functionality is simple. In fact, the simpler and more invisible the design appears on the front end, the more complicated the architecture and UX design that led to the solution.