Can an ugly interface provide a good user experience?
Yes, but why settle for good? In order for someone to have a great experience they have to actually enjoy using your product or service. How can someone enjoy something they don’t like looking at?
If I went to a spa that gave the world’s best massages, but the floor was dirty would I have the best experience I possible? My back feels great, but I just spent 30 minutes staring at an unclean workspace. Products (or in this case services) that focus only on usability fail to give the user the best experience possible. From the moment I walk in the door, open the package, or land on a screen I want to be completely satisfied. That includes having a clean cut, beautiful design (or at the least, not ugly)!
I would take a product that has awesome usability and somewhat mediocre visuals over an incredibly beautiful product with mediocre usability any day. My argument stems from the fact that good user experience requires both.
“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.” –Don Norman
Anyone can succeed in completing a form, creating an account, sending an email, getting a message or whatever other service the interface or product provides, but when it comes down to it, their experience is not optimized. Creating something that is usable as well as enjoyable is the best way to create an awesome user experience.