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April 15th

Looking at dating site plentyoffish, it makes Craigslist look like the Sistine Chapel. Of course, to a webdev like me, it’s a triumph in web development. The code is as Spartan as it comes.

But what do regular folks think of this site? Well, they think it’s the greatest thing ever. plentyoffish destroys their online competitors. So what makes plentyoffish so successful as opposed to a good looking site like OKCupid (also free)?

My theory is the more imperfect the design, the less intimidating it becomes. In a site that lets people look for other people, that’s important.

For example, let’s say people are looking at a Paul Cezanne painting. A few people can afford one. A few more can have any meaningful input (art critics, art history majors, etc.). Most people will just look in awe and move on, maybe take a picture. Now, picture the graffiti laced wall of a bathroom stall. Most people won’t do anything to it, but chances are more people will engage to a bathroom stall than people contribute to a Cezanne work.

Same thing with web design. OKcupid is a good looking site. It’s has about the same functions as plentyoffish. But it’s so good looking that users inadvertently set themselves as a Cezanne, which only attracts a smaller group of people but intimidates many more. plentyoffish is so full of ugly that intimidation is not an issue. And when people not intimidated meet, it means wonders for users and bags of money from Google for the site.

Online dating is intimidating enough. Almost everyone doing it have some sort of insecurity about themselves. Perhaps people identify with a site that is like them, imperfect but well-intentioned.

Go home
  • Dave M

    Hey,

    I like your line of thought here and putting visual reality (pof into the abstract, but honestly I think youre overthinking it a bit too much.

    Having scoured/dated peops on both for quite a while now (yes Im admitting im a ‘tard) I can assure you that people who care about having a bit of style and panache are found at the site with a bit of css style and panache– that’d be ‘okcupid’.

    Simple people tend toward the simple UI of PoF.

    That’s my somewhat jaded take on it at least. Certainly YMMV id your a Pof kinda person.

    Btw, thanks for the great blog, love the design topics.

  • Dave M

    Hey,

    I like your line of thought here and putting visual reality (pof into the abstract, but honestly I think youre overthinking it a bit too much.

    Having scoured/dated peops on both for quite a while now (yes Im admitting im a ‘tard) I can assure you that people who care about having a bit of style and panache are found at the site with a bit of css style and panache– that’d be ‘okcupid’.

    Simple people tend toward the simple UI of PoF.

    That’s my somewhat jaded take on it at least. Certainly YMMV id your a Pof kinda person.

    Btw, thanks for the great blog, love the design topics.

  • http://areyoudesign.com/ Sai-Kit Hui

    Actually, I use both OKCupid and PlentyofFish because I prefer to cast my net wide open.

    In my opinion, even when comparing their UI’s OKCupid is also better.

    My question is whether a “Broken Windows” type theory applies to user interaction of a dating service.

  • http://areyoudesign.com Sai-Kit Hui

    Actually, I use both OKCupid and PlentyofFish because I prefer to cast my net wide open.

    In my opinion, even when comparing their UI’s OKCupid is also better.

    My question is whether a “Broken Windows” type theory applies to user interaction of a dating service.

  • http://www.jasonashdown.co.uk/ Jason

    Nailed it in one.

    It’s not necessarily bad UI design, its just old fashioned. Which means older generations of people don’t have to learn anything new and can use it straight away.

    Like you say, Web 2.0 scares a lot of people even though its meant to be intuitive, simple and efficient (everything a web designer could want, but not necessarily the user).

    This is probably why a lot of businesses with older ecommerce websites are able to survive. People just get on with it, even if it is an archaic system.

    POF probably unintentional use of old’ hat UI design seems to have been the right choice… who’d have though aye?

    ^^ BTW, I enjoy reading your articles. Keep it up ^_^

  • http://www.jasonashdown.co.uk Jason

    Nailed it in one.

    It’s not necessarily bad UI design, its just old fashioned. Which means older generations of people don’t have to learn anything new and can use it straight away.

    Like you say, Web 2.0 scares a lot of people even though its meant to be intuitive, simple and efficient (everything a web designer could want, but not necessarily the user).

    This is probably why a lot of businesses with older ecommerce websites are able to survive. People just get on with it, even if it is an archaic system.

    POF probably unintentional use of old’ hat UI design seems to have been the right choice… who’d have though aye?

    ^^ BTW, I enjoy reading your articles. Keep it up ^_^

  • Pingback: Redesigning Craigslist: Why? | Are you Insane?

  • alina7899

    I agree

  • alina7899

    I actually hate plenty of fish i prefer using livedatelove.com i like their features better

  • http://areyoudesign.com/blog Sai-Kit Hui

    did you find the site clicking on the ads on plentyoffish? I believe most of their revenue stream is from posting google ads of rival dating services.

  • http://areyoudesign.com/blog Sai-Kit Hui

    did you find the site clicking on the ads on plentyoffish? I believe most of their revenue stream is from posting google ads of rival dating services.