Reason why ugly works for UGC

I have a theory why the websites which have successfully utilized user generated content in form of photos or video generally don’t look anything at all, or are butt-ugly. Here it is:

If your website is so ugly or blank that a user customizing a page on your site can only improve the page, 100% of your users have a chance of feeling gratification for having authored content, no matter what their level of skill is.

Conversely, if your site has strong visual identity, Joe Average will feel pressure to match the level of design he sees on your page. If the only thing Joe has is a badly lit photo of himself with a massive pimple in the middle of the forehead, it’s harder to upload that to a site that looks like it could be presenting Gucci models than to a site that looks it’s done by the geek down the road.

It’s so simple it has to be true. :)

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