Two websites I visit frequently are Reddit and Craigslist. Looking closely at the design elements, it is clear that both websites value content over design, as is expressed by their simple text only graphics.
What works for both Reddit and Craigslist is their no-bullshit approach to design. In their article, “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital Apocalypse”, Gertz (2015) discusses the issue of many online writings lacking anything of substance, and existing purely for purposes of attracting potential viewers, stating:
“traditional blogs churn out dozens of tiny superficial nuggets per day to feed invasive advertising. News sites and digital magazines continue to slice journalism budgets and increasingly find ways to sneak advertorial into their patchwork templates.”
Although Gertz does not praise a content-first approach either, highlighting the way design should augment the message of content when applied properly, I personally admire the approach Reddit and Craigslist use in intentionally leaving out attractive or aesthetic design elements on their websites. I realize that my opinion might not be a popular one, but that is beside the point. What Reddit and Craigslist both do well is include as much information as is expected. Images are used selectively, however are not the focus. Links are read in an orderly format, and can be sorted by categories of most recent, top voted, or trending.
One downfall of Reddit and Craigslist in terms of applying the same practices they use to my own website, is that I do not intent on generating content as quickly nor do I have a system of regulating content based on user review of material. My website is specific to myself, and my experiences. Therefore, designing my website to look like that of craigslist would not benefit, and perhaps only detract from my intention of imitating a “food blog” aesthetic.