Interfaces are not allows supposed to be “pretty”

I just want to rant real quickly. There are many cases where an online/web application is not supposed to have a “pretty” interface. As designers and even developers it is easy to get excited about making a particular application interface look really slick and neat, thinking that it will be one of the great selling points of the application. I am not saying that this is illogical or untrue, just that in most cases the design gets taken too far and really doesn’t help the project at all.

With successful sites like Mint and Basecamp its easy to assume that great design will help push your product. And to some extent sure, it will. After all if nothing else some listings in css galleries would at least help get the word out.

However the truth is that those sites have mildly slick design and most of the focus is instead on usability and simplicity. Want more proof that the web 2.0 look is not always the solution? Consider the success of Delicious vs Magnolia. One is pretty ugly by most peoples standpoints (and by ugly I mean simple, plain, boring, I actually love the simplicity as a designer) the other is beautiful, colorful and engaging. Yet magnolia fails to gain the popularity over delicious, because delicious is quick, easy and confusion free.

In short I will be pushing harder as of late to keep my interfaces simple and easy despite those who just want a pretty picture to drool over.

Anyone have any examples that prove me right or prove me wrong?