Why Bad Design Is Good

Many platforms out there that are really popular have the worst UX and UI imaginable. Mediawiki, Drupal, WordPress… you know the culprits. They are very badly organised, they look awful, and using them does not give one much pleasure.

Still, they are some of the most common platforms on the web. I’ve often pondered this and occasionally Googled around to see if anyone has much of a perspective on this, but I can’t find anything that addresses this phenomenon. Why is really badly-designed software so popular?

I think many of these platforms are popular because they have terrible UI / UX. Bad UX / UI can also express to the user that this software has been banged together in the back room by a couple of people who just needed it to do something. That ‘just get it working’ raw mechanics of the software has an appeal. I hate to bring up the spectre of punk… but there is something of a DIY in the aesthetic to these platforms. Something that is approachable and accessible (even if awkward). Something that is not present in say, Confluence. Confluence speaks to dull office boredom and functional lines and features. Using it makes me feel like I am working in a cubicle.

I don’t like Confluence even though it is functional – it makes me feel claustrophobic and I feel like I have sacrificed some of my autonomy to dwell within it. Whereas I kind of like Mediawiki in an odd way. It’s screwed up and ugly, which is kind of reassuring. I can mess with it…I almost want to put stickers on it.. I can own it… There is some basic non= pretentious ‘just ok’ kind of appeal that speaks to users. It’s not exactly a three-badly played-chords-and-the-truth kind of thing but its sort of close…

I’m not recommending you make badly designed software, by the way… just say’n

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