Ugly and Fast vs Beautiful and Slow?

You're building your next-generation web presence. You want to offer the ultimate customer experience (CX -- a superset of user experience). Do you deliver something that offers super-fast performance (in an ugly wrapper) or something that's beautiful (and slow-performing)?

I weighed that question this past weekend as I thought about potential R&D efforts while also visiting major consumer, community and e-commerce sites like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and Craigslist

Sure, the Disney and Universal sites have beautiful touches. But their respective performance on mobile devices is downright lousy. Admittedly, I could have jumped to their iOS or Android applications -- but for this exercise I was obsessed with web performance over WiFi and cell connections. And the experience was bad on small-screen devices and slower Internet connections. 

Bad load times. Database fields that populated slowly -- if at all. Calendars and booking systems that were far too clumsy for a pudgy-fingered user to navigate. It was as if rich, mouse-centric user interface designs were force-fit into the mobile world. Ouch. Heck, even the big-screen experience wasn't all that good at times.

Hooked On Speed

Then, I jumped to Craigslist to do some local garage sale shopping -- my approach to dumpster diving in the virtual world. In terms of design aesthetics, Craigslist remains as ugly today as it did during its launch way back in 1995. But... the functionality and site load times remain fantastic. And the archaic layout is... functional!

And so, as After Nines Inc. potentially plows ahead with some R&D, we'll keep those Disney, Universal and Craigslist experiences in mind. Somewhere between fast (and ugly) vs. beautiful (and slow) there resides the perfect approach for a new world of opportunities. (Hint: It ain't traditional "Responsive Design.")

Fingers crossed, we'll strike the right balance if/when the time ever becomes right. In the meantime, here's to the ugly misfits on the web -- delivering performance that the beautiful among us could only dream of...

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