According to Insider, Craigslist is one of the top 20 websites in the US and generates over $1 billion in Revenue - It ranks head to head with Netflix in terms of visitors to their site. The website in question has been around since 1995 and... hasn’t exactly changed much since. Some say that the reason behind the lack of change is because they adopted the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it model of the Internet. They believe in keeping the design as simple and functional as possible.

Upon hearing talk of it being outdated, we delve into the platform as UX, UI, and web enthusiasts, and were shocked by our findings. Links, links, and more links. Who could have thought that this style had not completely retired from the internet, let alone be seen on a billion-dollar company’s homepage?

What was the reason, and could it really justify the lack of aesthetic? We took it upon us to explore further.

The longer we stayed on the page the longer we understood the peculiar and intentional design decisions (or lack of it) that were made by Craigslist. Yet at the same time, there were problems that became glaringly obvious as well.

First and foremost, in Craigslist’s defense, we believe that no matter how ugly it may look at first glance, its scarce brand identity actually works in its favor. The Craigslist charm lies in the “get-in and get-out” experience that follows its “nothing-extra” design. There are no ads, banners - they don’t even use their logos or colors on the majority of their pages. The tone is casual, and it matches the audience of their site well.

Here are some of the design solutions and changes that we made:

  • There are many links on this site that are redundant. For example, there were 39 links under the “for sale” category that we were able to reduce to 22
  • We simplified a lot of the naming conventions to further reduce visual clutter
  • We felt some features (and links) were unnecessary. For example, the translation function. Modern browsers are capable of doing that on their own. Furthermore, theirs were unable to translate any of the content, and only their labels anyways.
  • Upon investigating the Resume Category, we found that users were abusing the intended purpose of this section. For one, we did not see a single resume. Lots of users posted unrelated rants (Figure 2) etc that could belong in the discussion forum and even the ones that were serious postings did not stand out since they all had the same titles (“Looking for Job”) etc. We figured we could change the design of this page to prompt/inhibit/garner/ attract better results and to dissuade users that are not searching for work to use the forum or other channels.
  • We added some more tags that we felt would be useful in the job searching/hiring section such as people’s access to transportation/trucks etc. It would be useful if we could further do some research and tests to determine whether these would be positive changes or to simply gather data about whether users value something like educational background when hiring or recruiting help through this site.
  • We changed some text links to icons for familiarity and ease-of-use
  • While we did not get to prototyping this, we felt that the lack of error handling (no back button, and useless continue button) on the create post sequence violates a usability heuristic.
  • A large focal point in our design was to reduce the number of clicks a user would have to make to navigate from one page to another. We also ensured that the content was balanced and had enough white space for better accessibility and user experience

Built With

  • figma
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