Why Web Design Badness Becomes Popular?

One of the most popular opinions among web designers is that the Internet is full of bad designs…well, there are bad ones for sure, but as you know one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Someone likes flat style, someone is into Flash (making all those thing glitter all around the web page), someone else may like kitch. It’s hard to please everyone.

That’s the reason we are having so many styles and so many designs. Anyways, we can point out one thing that has some note of mysticism – this is the process when bad design elements turn into standards.

This is all in our heads…our psychology is that trigger that makes weird things. That’s the reason why something bad may turn into something heart warming. The brightest possible example from the real life, not web, is the Stockholm Syndrome.


Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors or abusers, sometimes to the point of defending them, and sometimes the feeling of love for the captor shows. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.

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It’s amazing but popularity works through two very different processes. The most intuitive for most of us is the ‘Fads and Fashions’ process. People, brands, and styles become popular because the right people have adopted it – rich people, celebrities, opinion leaders, hipsters in subcultures – and we copy them in the eternal human quest to be fashionable and admired. The emergence of cultural icons – a far more durable and powerful form of popularity, and much less well understood. Icons emerge because they express a particular ideology that is needed for a society.

Another one path is the Cultural Innovations, those are the internal changes that depend (and are limited) upon the recombination of already existing elements. They can occur independently in different times and places, however not all lead to change in culture. They occur more frequently in technologically complex societies than in less developed ones.

“Bad” designs are subjective

We all have different tastes and expectations. Even though lots of people think that flat design/ (insert any other you find appropriate) is an icon of the style…they will be right. Everyone is right in their own way, even those fans of Web 2.0 style (if there are any left). Bad designs are needed, here is a simple example from everyday life. Do you know why a beauty makes friends with a ‘not beauty’? She wants to look even prettier having such a friend that is a ‘3’ or ‘4’. Same thing with web design – we need all those ugly layouts to have things for comparison.


Users aren’t designers…mostly

Users make up a specialized and a huge part of webdesign community. As being specialists of their ‘user’s craft’, they are naturally aware of latest trends in website design and development, those who are, eventually learn that, venturing into technical gaffes and structural problems. The average user isn’t going to be anywhere near as likely to notice or care about all the little things that drive developers crazy. They just care that they’re given a good story.

Conversion is the king

Tough to swallow as it may sometimes be, you can’t argue with sales. If a gazillion of people loved some web resource, they’ve shared it all around social media networks, submitted tons of reviews, then the site’s technical “badness” just doesn’t matter. It may be shoddy, site with classical layout (a header, body, footer and a side bar, nothing else), but the very fact is that it’s selling. The news isn’t all bad especially for the owner, having a crappy design get a bunch of followers and regular visitors. At the end of the day, those are the visitors who decide what’s good and what’s not, and it’s their money that does the talking.

So why does it all happen?

Remember when Metro UI was introduced, not even the lazy bad-mouthed it. And what do we see now? Metro is still out there, on the tablets/laptops/desktops/smartphones, etc. Everyone considered it to be ugly and not user-friendly. Probably you don’t know that but designers of Metro style found their inspiration in Bauhaus school, that’s the German art trend of 30-s. Those artists were fond of drawing rectangles and squares in bright and sharp colors. So why Metro UI became popular? The answer is pretty simple, people got used to it, and when working they understood that it’s the most awesome UI created lately, even those who could not find Start button.

The same principle works with any other thing considered bad – we’re all getting used to it, that’s the matter of human evolution, we’re highly adapting species. If not this trait we would not develop from a cavemen into homosapiens in such a short period of time.

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SPEAK UP!
So what do you think? Why does it happen? Any ideas? Why some bad design can ‘become somehow trendy’? Use the comments section to share your ideas.

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