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.