A Beautiful Web

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to a website and thought, “Wow! What a beautiful website!” How about you? The truth is most websites are ugly; the internet is ugly. When a website does happen to be particularly appealing it is usually done in Flash or something equally hateful of the search engine crawlers.

While there are many factors affecting the ugly aging of the internet, I like picking fights one at a time so that I have an easy scapegoat. That being said, I have a personal resentment of display ads. Occasionally I see one that is beautiful and useful, but most of what I see are what we’ve all come to affectionately call "punch the monkey" ads. You know, the ones that say "punch the monkey and win one hundred dollars." I say affectionately because once you’ve had feces thrown at you by a chuckling primate (long story... it involved a visit to the zoo), well, you'll start to love "punch the monkey" ads. Even when they don't pay you the hundred dollars (and trust me, they won't.) However, that’s about the only trace of affection anyone could have for most of the junk display ads distributed these days.

The problem with display ads isn’t that they can’t be good. The problem with display is that they just aren’t ever going to be good. It would take too much work to change the agencies, the companies, and the networks pumping out display ads, and there are too many other good places to invest money like: search ads, search engine optimization, social media, web design, and video ads. Display ads probably mark the bottom of the ladder in terms of effectiveness. Sure, studies have shown they boost search, but ummm first you have to be using search, right?

If you’ve already reached the plateau where investing more money doesn’t get you any more ROI in other online platforms, then maybe you should start looking at display, but then again, maybe you should start looking offline first.

Here’s to making the internet more beautiful:

Step 1: Kill display advertisements.

What do you think step two is? I'd love to get some feedback on how we can make the internet more beautiful. I've got some ideas to help get you thinking: develop and implement image and video indexing based off of content rather than tags for a popular search engine, develop higher resolution mobile screens, increase the bandwidth and resolution available to the average user, decrease the cost of professional web design and development by increasing agency efficiency etc. etc. The list goes on. There are so many ways we can make the internet more beautiful. I'm sure with time this progress will be made. For now it's one step at a time. I'd love to hear your thoughts on some of these possibilities in the comments below and as I post about some of them in the future.

Written by Chris Allison on April 14, 2009


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Chris Allison