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Redesigning Craigslist With Focus On Usability

Craigslist1 is obviously one of the most popular websites in the world, and each month it serves millions of users who post and view classified ads on the website. At the time this article was written, Craigslist was ranked as the 28th most-visited English-language website in the world by Alexa. Despite the fact that Craigslist receives such a huge amount of traffic each month, it is also criticized for its design, which seems to be at least 10 years out-of-date.

This very basic design has also become a huge part of Craigslist’s branding, and it helps make the website memorable and instantly recognizable. As a result, the company has benefited in some ways from a design that many people consider to be very subpar. Over the years, as various design trends have come and gone, Craigslist has bucked the trends and stubbornly maintained it’s bare-boned approach.

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However, despite the fact that Craigslist has been able to benefit in some ways from its ultra-basic design, there are plenty of reasons to consider making some changes. A simple approach to design and layout that cuts excess and eliminates anything that is less than critical is typically assumed to improve usability.

With Craigslist, however, this is not the case, because the website could benefit from usability improvements in several areas. In the design world, minimalism that conveys a simply beauty is regarded as a very difficult thing to achieve. Minimalist websites can be both attractive and easy to use. However, Craigslist’s design is hardly considered beautiful, even by those who appreciate websites that consist primarily of text.

Craigslist Homepage5

In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at the design, layout and usability of Craigslist and point out some areas where we feel change and improvement are possible. This is only one opinion of what could be done to improve the site. Our goal is to demonstrate the process of evaluating a website in certain areas and determining specific improvements that can be made. Hopefully this will help other designers who are attempting to evaluate websites of their own or of clients.

Additionally, we hope to start a discussion among Smashing Magazine readers in the comments below about the points raised in this article. The best way to improve the usability and design of any website is to listen to those who are using the website, so we hope that you Craigslist users out there will share your opinions here.

The Goals Link

Before starting any type of evaluation, it’s important to clarify what exactly we hope to accomplish. In this case, our purpose is two-fold. First, we want to improve the usability of Craigslist by making some minor changes that will result in a more positive overall user experience. Secondly, we want to create a design and layout that is more up-to-date and pleasant to look at.

One major consideration that cannot be ignored is the brand recognition that Craigslist has developed over the years. The company obviously values its website’s consistent look, which hasn’t been updated (at least not heavily at once) throughout the years, and it keeps this approach for a reason. A website as large and popular as Craigslist could easily go in any direction it wanted with a new design. But given the company’s stance on its design and the recognition already in place, it’s clear that drastic changes are not realistic.

As a result, our goal is to suggest improvements for the usability and design of the website while maintaining a simple, basic approach. Even though this is strictly a hypothetical scenario, it would serve little purpose to suggest changes that could never be implemented in reality. Although the end result bears some significant differences to the current website, it still maintains a very simple approach that puts priority on content rather than design.

What’s Wrong With Craigslist? Link

Before we suggest any changes that need to be made, let’s look at some of the weaknesses of the current website.

1. The Design is Bland and Outdated Link

As mentioned earlier, and as any Craigslist visitor already knows, the design of the website lacks visual appeal.

2. Logging In, Signing Up, and Managing an Account is More Difficult than Necessary Link

Craigslist has achieved its success due to the huge community of users it has managed to build. According to its fact sheet6, each month over 30 million new classifieds are posted to the website, and over 12 billion pages are viewed. With this kind of activity level, it’s clear that making the process of creating an account, logging in and managing the account should be as straightforward as possible. However, the current website could be improved in these areas. Unnecessary clicks are needed to do anything with an account, and options on the account page are very limited.

Login Page7

3. Screen Space Is Not Prioritized Link

One issue with the current design of the Craigslist home page, as well as sub-pages, is the use of screen space. Valuable screen space could be used more effectively in some areas to improve the usability of the website.

4. Navigation Link

Craigslist is really a network of smaller websites held on sub-domains of Each sub-domain, representing an actual location, has its own board of classifieds. Currently, over 550 cities in 50 different countries are represented. With any website of this size and this amount of content, challenges with the navigation will always exist. Some aspects of navigation are rather effective on Craigslist, but others leave room for improvement.

For starters, there is no navigation menu that appears consistently throughout the website. Some pages use a left sidebar, some don’t. Some pages are easily accessible from most areas of the website, but not all. On many of the secondary pages, huge amounts of screen space are left completely empty with very few navigational options. This forces users to hit the “Back” button in their browser to go to another section of the website, something that could be improved by adding more navigational choices on these pages.

Listing Page8

What’s Right With Craigslist? Link

Of course, a number of things are also good about the existing website, and it’s only appropriate to look at them as well.

1. Recognizable Link

Given the amount of traffic worldwide that the website receives, and an appearance that stands out from other major websites, Craigslist is one of the most recognizable websites in the world. When people want to post classifieds online, Craigslist is usually their number one choice.

2. Clarity of Vision and Purpose Link

Part of the beauty of Craigslist is that it exists to provide local classifieds and forums, and that’s basically it. There aren’t a lot of extras and options, and there are no ads on the website. Craigslist exists to help people find what they are looking for, and to help people find other people who want what they have, and it does this better than anyone else. The people running Craigslist have not been distracted by other monetization opportunities or other things they could be doing with the website, and they deserve to be commended for sticking to their purpose.

3. Relatively Easy Posting Process Link

For a website that relies on classifieds being posted by individuals, Craigslist makes the process fairly straightforward and simple. On community pages, there is a clearly marked link for posting classifieds, and users are led through a simple and efficient process once they are logged in. The only drawback here is that you have to navigate from the website’s home page to a local community page before seeing the link to post a classified.

4. Pages Load Quickly Link

Visitor to the website will appreciate the speed with which pages load. This is especially nice as you’re browsing classified listings and visiting a number of different pages on the website.

Challenges Of Redesign Link

Before we get into the specifics of our suggestions for change, let’s take a look at some of the challenges of redesigning a website like Craigslist’s.

1. Organization Link

There’s so much content on Craigslist, with hundreds of different local communities and lots of different categories of classifieds. Any website with this amount of content will face a challenge of organization in terms of structure and navigation.


Of course, the goal is to make it easy to move through the website and find what you want, making it necessary to include plenty of navigational options while minimizing clutter.

2. Improving the Website Without Detracting from the Brand Link

There are a number of different ways to improve the design of Craigslist and reorganize the presentation of data, but improving the design without straying too far from the current basic approach that has contributed so much to the success of the website is a major challenge. Creating a more attractive design and improving usability are both very achievable, but doing so while maintaining the essence of the company and website is not so easy. Because Craigslist’s identity is so closely connected to the website in its current state, severe changes to the aesthetics of the website could have a major negative impact on the company’s success.

3. Improving Usability with Only Minor Changes Link

Because so many people throughout the world have used Craigslist to post classifieds, and because so many of them are repeat users, any changes to the process of using the website should be thoroughly considered before being implemented. Even if a website lacks in some area of usability, making “improvements” can negatively impact users who have become accustomed to doing things a certain way.

Regular users know how the website works, and the process is usually easy for them, even if it isn’t so simple for new users. Because Craigslist is so firmly established and the community of users is so large that usability improvements that would confuse regular visitors and make it more difficult for them to use the website should be avoided at all costs.

A Preview of the Suggested Design Link

In the rest of the article, we’ll look at details of the suggested changes and why they’re being made, but here is a wireframe that would serve as the starting point of the proposed design. The wireframe only includes the top of the page and is in shades of gray. The proposed color scheme will be discussed later, but for now we have a layout to work with. The columns shown here have only a few items listed, but they would be extended further down the page. (Click the image for a full-sized view.)


The following image is the proposed header for secondary pages. It is essentially the same as the header on the home page (making it consistent), but it includes breadcrumb navigation.

Secondary Page Header11

Additionally, the header area includes slight changes when the visitor is logged in, and an account management area is added to the sidebar.

Secondary Page - Logged In12

Evaluation of the Design Link

Now that we’ve defined the context of the website as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the current design, let’s jump into the specifics. We’ll start with the design and then move into usability issues.

1. Color Link

The current design of Craigslist uses very little color. In fact, aside from the default colors for links and text there is virtually no color at all. The page has a very light gray background, and slightly darker gray boxes are used to make certain pieces of text stand out. The website contains many links in the browser default color of blue. That blue is really one of the distinguishing marks of the website as a result of the sheer number of links and lack of any other color. Visited links are displayed in purple; and when hovered over, links are shown in purple with an underline.

In attempting to improve the design, some modification to the color scheme is justified. However, to keep the identity of the website intact, we won’t add too much color or too great a variety of colors. Instead, we’ll go with a monochromatic color scheme consisting of a few shades of blue. This will give the website a more appealing look, without too dramatic a change. Some grays can be mixed in as well to add some diversity and keep some of the current look.

COLOURlovers has a few monochromatic blue palettes that seem appropriate, including Cold Day13:

Cold Day

The boxes that contain links on the home page and the community home pages can be done away with. They are one of the factors that contribute to the website’s out-of-date look, and they don’t really make text any easier to read.


2. Width Link

Although the width of the home page is not fixed, the table-based layout displays at about 760 pixels in the default font size. Community front pages, such as, display at about 860 pixels. While it’s possible that the home page is kept to approximately 760 pixels to accommodate a greater number of visitors without horizontal scrolling, this is unlikely a major consideration because most visitors would be on the local community pages.

If keeping the width down to accommodate visitors with smaller screens was a major concern, the local community pages would have to be kept to a similar width, too. Because that is not the case, and because the average screen resolution is bigger, it’s safe to say that the home page could be made wider. With a wider page width, more white space could be added between columns, making the page easier on the eyes. The proposed design uses a fixed width of 960 pixels.

3. Typography Link

Craigslist makes very little use of special fonts. In the style sheet, “serif” and “sans-serif” are specified for the font family. Some typographical changes could subtly improve the overall look of the website, particularly the home page and the community home pages, where so many links are listed. Bold text is used for headers and sub-headers (although h1 to h6 tags are not used), but a font change here could also help.

A serif sans-serif font, like Arial, would be appropriate for the body text, with a sans-serif serif font, like Georgia, used for headers and sub-headers. Headers on the home page such as “United States”, “Europe” and “Canada” could be placed in h2 tags. Community home pages, such as the Los Angeles page15 shown below, could have the location name in an h2 tag, with items such as “community,” “housing” and “jobs” in h3 tags. Both h2 and h3 headers could be styled to be displayed in Georgia font.

Additionally, on the current home page and the community home pages, no capital letters are used; everything is lowercase. Capitalizing appropriate letters would look more professional and might help break up the large amount of text.

Community home page16

fonts and typography

4. Branding Link

Obviously, no logo is used on Craigslist; only plain text is used for the website name. While a fancy logo is not necessary, a change in font could add some visual appeal to the website without causing a major change. Websites like TechCrunch17 and Ning18 have also passed on logos, but they instead have a nice branded look with a font that’s not so standard.

A simple change here would be to use an image of the word “Craigslist” in a slightly different font. (Using a text replacement tool such as sIFR19 is another option.) We don’t want to stray too far from the standard sans-serif font being used on the current website. Goudy Bookletter 1911 is a nice font that would allow the branding to stay very simple.

Craigslist Title

5. Icons Link

The community home pages, containing links to various categories of classifieds, with all of those links in the content area, can be difficult to look at. To add some visual appeal and make it a little easier for visitors to find what they want, small icons could be placed next to category titles, such as “community,” “housing,” “jobs,” “personals,” etc. Icons would not change the appearance of the page as drastically as pictures or other visual elements would, but they would make the page look better.

Certainly, other design options could be explored, but these are four particular areas that could be improved without taking away from the character of the website. Now, let’s move on to the structure of the layout.

Layout Link

Like design elements, the layout of the pages has an impact on both the appearance and usability of the website.

1. Tables Link

For starters, Craigslist’s layout is table-based. You wouldn’t expect any Web design blog to write about potential improvements to a website without mentioning the tables. The current layout could certainly be achieved without relying on tables: a CSS grid-based system is the logical alternative.

2. Header Link

The current website doesn’t have much of a header. In many ways, it’s good for the content to begin as high as possible on the page; but a small functional header could be used that would push the content only slightly lower down the page. The header in our redesign serves a few purposes:

  • The title/branding area is slightly bigger and features a font that adds a little more variety.
  • The header can introduce some color to the website.
  • The header appears on every page of the website and so could contain a consistent navigation menu that visitors could easily find.

The header would still be basic in design and not add anything flashy to the website, but it would improve things by adding some consistency, color and navigation.


3. Sidebar Link

There is a left sidebar on both the home page and the community home pages. Some links are present on both sidebars, but some appear on only one or the other, which can be a little confusing. As a result, the effectiveness of the sidebar suffers a little bit. Additionally, the links in the sidebar on the home page have no organization. There are 15 links, but they don’t seem to be in any kind of order. We’ll relocate all 15 links to the header in our redesign and organize them by putting them into three groups of five.

Sidebar links

In our redesign, we’ll take the sidebar off the home page and increase the amount of white space between columns in the main content area. Because there are so many columns, increasing the white space will make it easier to read the content. The sidebar on the community home pages can be improved by cleaning it up and allowing for more usability features when users are logged in (more on that in a minute).

Craigslist currently has no footer. The home page has a copyright notice, but community home pages have nothing at all. With a website of this size, navigation and usability could be improved by including a footer with links to the most important pages. The footer should exist throughout the website, whether you’re on the home page, a community home page, a listing of classifieds or a log-in page.

Usability Link

For a website like Craigslist’s, which relies so much on user interaction, usability concerns are far more important than the design or layout. For the most part, Craigslist does a pretty good job of making it easy to post classifieds, so huge changes aren’t needed, but some tweaks here and there could make a big difference.

1. Log-In Form on the Home Page Link

Currently there is a link on the home page for users to log in. This link takes them to a separate page with nothing on it except the typical log-in options. Once they log in, users are taken to a page that lists the classifieds that they have recently posted. The process could be made smoother by simply adding a log-in form to the home page, thus eliminating the need to click to a separate page. In our redesign, we’ve included a log-in form between the header and the main content, where it can be easily seen and accessed.

Login link


Next to the form, we’ve added a link for users who have forgotten their password and a link to create a new account. Currently, there is no link to create a new account on any of page except the log-in page. This requires at least an extra click by users who want to create an account; more significantly, it assumes they know to go to the log-in page to create a new account.

3. Consistent Navigation Link

Using Craigslist to post classifieds, you may notice that logging in and out leaves you on pages that don’t offer many options.

Login Page

This does help minimize unnecessary distractions, but if you want to leave the page, you may have to use the “Back” button on your browser or click to the home page. Earlier, we established that we wanted a consistent header throughout the website. Some pages would still be very basic, as they are now, but would have a feel that is more consistent with the rest of the website; and some of the basic navigation options would be present on all pages.

Did you forget your Craigslist password? As with most websites, there is an option to have your password emailed to you; but once the email is sent, you arrive on a page that has zero navigation options.

Forgot password

Your only choices are to leave the website altogether or hit the “Back” button on your browser. In fact, you would have to hit “Back” twice to reach the log-in page and three times to get to whatever page you were on before that. Most users would probably go check their email immediately, and the email does contain a link to the appropriate page, but for users who don’t want to check their email right away, this is poor usability. By putting these features on pages that have some sort of consistent navigation, the user at least has a few options.

4. Account Management Link

Managing your account and viewing a list of your posted classifieds is currently done only on a separate page. Once you’re logged in, this page is accessible from the sidebar. Since we’ll be moving some of the items from the sidebar to the navigation in the header, space will be freed up in the sidebar that can be used to improve usability for users who are logged in. The image below shows what would be available from the sidebar.

Users who are logged in would see a list of their recent classifieds, with the date of each post, its status, and a link to the actual page listing. All of this is currently accessible from the “My Account” page, but adding it to the sidebar would allow users to access this info just a bit more easily. The “View All” link would then take you to the “My Account” page, where everything would be listed.

Your Account

Below this account management section, the sidebar would include the search box and event calendar, which are also currently located in the sidebar. If visitors are not logged in, everything would slide up to take the place of the “My Account” section.

Conclusion Link

While these changes would not lead to a design that wows visitors, they would help make the website more visually appealing overall and, most importantly, more usable. The goal was to create a simple design that keeps the essence of Craigslist while addressing some of its weaknesses. This is just one user’s opinion on the matter, so please share your thoughts in the comments.


Footnotes Link

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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

  1. 1

    Weird article. Well written, YES. Improved Usability, YES. Boring as hell, ABSOLUTELY.

    Hope you get the coveted re-design too, seems to be the only logical reason for writing this.

  2. 2

    Only on one of the largest web designer blog (SM), can a designer get something like this published.

    Of course from a designers perspective we hate the default “purple” visited links of Craigslists, and the disgustingly simply, universally ugly, font choice used. But folks, this is Craigslists brand. The author said this in the first few paragraphs and should’ve stopped right there, and for the same reason that designers/developers fight another fight – having and maintaining standards, whether it be XHTML or CSS or other design practices.

    This is Craigslist’s brand. This is not about whether a designer thinks it would be more functionally user-friendly. 99% of the people looking at Craigslists know exactly where everything is. They know where “computer gigs” is and how to flag a post as spam.

    You’re not asking for Craigslist to change their standard (which is hypocritical of a designer promoting web standards in the first place, and suicide from a marketing perspective), you’re asking 100 million other people to change theirs.

    In the end, let’s not forget the user in user interface.

  3. 3

    nice article!

  4. 4

    I like the proposed redesign. You are very correct in the statement that craigslist is mostly typography. Your proposed design, which also relies heavily on type, would be a good change. Additionally, the color scheme would be nice too. While the gray tones are iconic, the blue monochromatic theme would be very nice. It carries it’s own neutrality without being too bland.

    Cool Post!

  5. 5

    Very clearly written and nice article

    The outcome however… not my taste, I still think it’s fugly, sorry, it’s only more usable…

  6. 6

    Eh …. not a big fan of the redesign from this article. Another guy took a stab at a CL redesign back in 2006, which I still like better. Here are the two pages:

  7. 7

    Arial is a sans-serif font; Georgia is a serif font.

    I’ve also wanted a redesign of the site, but the proposal here isn’t visually appealing at all. The industrial gray is far too gloomy.

    I agree that the site needs capitalization, but the lack of capitalization in the logo is important to the brand and should be maintained.

  8. 8


    March 11, 2009 10:08 am

    Very presumptuous of you guys.. not very SM of you. I’m sure the folks at CL know what they are doing.

  9. 9

    Amateur re-design… c’mon guys, you can do better. Get a proper UI designer.

  10. 10

    Good ideas, but terrible design. Someone call Zeldman!

  11. 11

    Love this. I use craigslist a lot, and as a web designer, am often frustrated by not only it’s crappy, inconsistent design, but it’s lack of usability. It’s a cool site, and serves it’s purpose, but I think the CL could really help out their site and please their users by implementing some subtle, simple changes like this. Don’t overhaul it, but do something like suggested in this article. PLEASE LISTEN CL PEOPLE :)

  12. 12

    Brad Czerniak

    March 11, 2009 10:18 am

    I agree that Craigslist is due for a redesign, and that it should more be IA for usability. However, I also agree with the other commenters that the proposed redesign in this article isn’t anywhere close to right.

    How about a Smashing Magazine Craigslist redesign contest?

  13. 13

    Jason, maybe a better idea would be to give your proposal. Offer us some light.

  14. 14

    Karmen Mlinar

    March 11, 2009 10:23 am

    “A serif font, like Arial, would be appropriate for the body text, with a sans-serif font, like Georgia, used for headers and sub-header”

    Arial is sans, Georgia is serif font.

  15. 15

    I use CL a lot. I don’t see anything wrong with it. The reason people like me use CL is because its simple, it works, and everything is in the same place it always is. SM: there was no need to redesign a site that works well.

  16. 16

    Changing Craigslist would be a horrible idea. Sure there are areas that could use improvement (check out padmappper for example), and sections like Real Estate seem pointless, but just looking at your proposed changes makes my heart skip a beat. Keep it simple, keep it familiar.

  17. 17


    March 11, 2009 10:36 am

    The outcome’s pretty bad.

    Black text on medium grey. I live in the UK, but on the odd occasion I have come across Craigslist, I have actually slightly admired the simplicity such as using lowercase.

    Also, redesigned Craigslist almost exactly 3 years ago.

  18. 18

    Moises Kirsch

    March 11, 2009 10:38 am

    There was a redesign proposal at SXSW a few years ago…

  19. 19

    Yes, Craigslist is a eyesore to look at from a design standpoint and could be drastically improved on the functionality side. I understand that there is argument about keeping it the way it is because of its huge user base and it’s simplicity, but I think a redesign would benefit it in the long run.

    The Design Eye guys took a stab at what a redesign might like like here:

  20. 20

    Nouman Saleem

    March 11, 2009 10:45 am

    I love the walkthrough, BUT TheBigNoob did it a tad better:

  21. 21

    Nicole Hernandez

    March 11, 2009 10:51 am

    Article talking points: Good things to consider when redesigning.
    Design Results: Yikes!

    The problem with it is that when people read something that’s coming from an authority point of view and see a result they don’t like, they make an assumption the authority doesn’t actually know what they’re talking about. That’s not correct in this case, the article is well written, and the elements of importance in a redesign are valid, it’s just unfortunate that the end graphical result wasn’t as strong as the talking points. I’d yank the ‘result’ images, just focus on talking about what IS actually not so great about Craigslist (and there is plenty) and talk theory on redesign instead. There are a ton of ways to make Craigslist more usable, readable, and yet keep the layout familiar and the brand strong.

    All in all, it’s a good article.

  22. 22

    I’m a Craigslist user but not a regular user. I use it a few times a year. Every time I go, I have to relearn where things are and how to do things. The lack of usability mentioned in the article affects me every time.

    I really like the ideas mentioned above. I’m sure that CL would be able to work with a designer to maintain the good parts of the current CL and improve the negative and it would actually increase its usage.

  23. 23

    Already been done and with 2 pages completed where you can see the whole design. Design Eye for Craiglist although this article does a great job of pointing out the flaws of the current design.

    Craig himself saw that redesign and was offered the chance to take it and passed on it to keep the design the way it is. If it ain’t broke…

  24. 24

    The fatal flaw of this redesign, like so many others that focus just on UI, is that you polish the superficial aspects of the application while completely ignoring the true usability problems. I read Craigslist almost exclusively through an RSS reader, so approximately 0.0% of your improvements would make any difference to me whatsoever.

    Want to improve Craigslist? Come up with a good way to keep crooks off, and keep people from posting “ads” that are there just to flame other peoples’ ads. If you add a reliable feedback mechanism to the functionality that’s there now, you’ve got a site that becomes far more useful — and then, you can work on fonts and typefaces.

  25. 25

    Chris Wallace

    March 11, 2009 11:06 am

    @Robyn, It’s just a wireframe, not a proposed design. Wireframes are not meant to look “pretty.”

    @Steven I think there are definitely some things that should be changed from a usability standpoint. I would have to argue that those changes should not come by way of redesigning the whole site. Sites like craigslist build a very loyal following by keeping things consistent throughout, and a major redesign forces the users to “relearn” the established design patterns that have been unknowingly created (whether they are good or bad). I think maybe moving a button here and there, or adding a “quicklinks” section may be in order, but in my opinion, it is meant to be simple and easy to use and if your changes were made, it would make it harder to use for the majority of people who are obviously enjoying it as is.

  26. 26

    Joshua Brewer

    March 11, 2009 11:10 am

    Um, hate to break it to you but someone did this 3 years ago at SXSW… Design Eye For The List Guy - Finished product:

  27. 27

    Interesting article idea (redesign of an existing site) but horrible execution. Also, I would suggest correcting the serif vs sans-serif thing. Arial is sans-serif. Georgia is serif.

  28. 28

    20 million hits a month can’t be wrong. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and CL ain’t broke. Not everything has to be designer-pretty…and I’m used to a few extra clicks. Comes with the territory.

    I can see where you may be coming from, if this is an actual article and not a bid for a CL project. How do you update something when it’s simplicity, it’s ugliness, and it’s basicness ARE the brand? If that’s the perspective this is written from, then the article itself is what needs the overhaul.

  29. 29

    I think this is a bit pretentious post since you’re criticizing what works. This site is very popular because it is simple and fast for people to use. IMO, only change I would recommend is the color scheme and typography to make it more appealing. In your mock-up, I don’t think the header should take that much space with the “about us”, “terms”, and the other links that noone cares for. This post reminds me of

  30. 30

    CL could use a makeover bigtime. The proposed improvements here are too conservative, tho. I’d go with a more radical approach. But you gotta love a site that big, that snaps onscreen so FREAKIN FAST! :-) And it works as advertised.

  31. 31

    Great article and a nice process. The challenge however (atleast in my observation due to a very similar project) is that people however web savvy they are get used to a certain system/method.

    Whilst I completely agree that re-design is a good thing; it is extremely difficult to convince the users the same. Thats why greats like Amazon, eBay etc have not been able to deviate significantly from their original designs in the late 90s.

    There are many people who earn a living off Craigslist and would freak out completely if their daily method of earning money is changed. Whereas there are other users who browse every once in a while and pretty much click around the website like a pro.

    A heatmap would reveal significantly how and what users use the most. That will help target the real usability issues. Rest is gravy.

    I am a strong supporter of great visual design but if the underlined requirements of the daily users are not fulfilled, the whole re-design is pretty much a moo point (A cows opinion :)

  32. 32

    I think the redesign hit it just right. Not too much of a change and focus on the right things. It could be argued “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but by making themselves slightly more visually appealing and more importantly, more usable, Craigslist would hold a more secure position at the top.

  33. 33

    So… you managed to make it look worse ?!

  34. 34

    CM digital media

    March 11, 2009 11:34 am

    I agree with michelle above.. why fix what isn’t broken.. does anyone remember tripod, excite, xoom, angelfire?

    All thought they needed to be redesigned, better look, more content, more user friendly…they had most of the same features as yahoo, but they went thru upgrades… and who talks about them anymore? Do they even offer the same services? Are they even online?

    My point is this. Yes, there are ways craigslist could be a bit more userfriendly. They could integrate craigshelper for multiple city searches, and they could definately make their forums better, but… why fix it if it isn’t broken.

    They obviously make money or they wouldn’t still be in business. Where else can you list items for free, sell them, and not have to pay ever increasing fees, like ebay? And while you are there you can look for a job, find a mate, advertise your business, and on and on..

    Anyone who has been online for any length of time has heard of craigslist. Me and my friends actually go on the dating sections just to see what kind of people actually post there…it may not be nice, but it can be hilarious.

    Leave it alone. Don’t try to fix a site that is in the top 30 of english language visited sites in the WORLD. That would put them above a lot of news sites, magazine sites, gaming sites, government sites, and even porn sites… and that isn’t bad.

  35. 35

    Swell idea, though you aren’t the first. ;)

  36. 36

    Reminded me of this redesign of craigslist done a couple of years back:

  37. 37

    Solid article. Sounds like you would find these updates at iList ( The usability is much improved, the design is more current, and the features are simply cool.

    Craigslist doesn’t really need to change much because most of the users are loyal and have come to terms with their disregard for an aesthetically pleasing site. It gets the job done; not-so-quick and dirty.

  38. 38

    I don’t think the visual graphics / UI elements proposed here are very strong at all.
    I feel like SM could have proposed a much stronger concept than that….

    I think if you’re going to take a shot at a redesign of CL you better come with an idea that is completely different than what it is now. All you’ve really proposed is moving elements around and slapped some really weak graphics in it.

    Why not do something totally different with a focus on it being “different”.? I dunno, I’d just like to see something totally different? No? Yes? :)

  39. 39

    Great to hear of a redesign, I’ve been waiting forever to hear about this. I totally agree with not detracting from CL’s unique unstyled feel and look forward to seeing a result that still encompasses the ultra minimal look and feel but remakes it into something elegant and aesthetically pleasing.

    Good Luck!

  40. 40

    You folks are missing the point of the article. It is not to re-design craiglist, it’s how to approach the re-design of a site such as craiglist. That being said; Good article on how to approach a re-design of such an established site.

    BTW: Clicking on images in the article for a full size look only results in a 404.

  41. 41

    Yes Craigslist is ugly. It has never changed. That’s the point. You think they don’t have a few grand to throw down on a design? There’s a reason behind why they haven’t.
    1. The design is usable and familiar.
    2. People with very low computer skills go to it and need that familiarity.
    3. It’s part of the brand.
    4. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    On another note they have added a lot of functionality in the back-end and user experience that i think should be acknowledged.

  42. 42

    Images lead to 404s, Georgia is serif, Arial is sans and at the end of “Evaluation of design” you say “four areas” but you have mentioned five which adds confusion.

  43. 43

    How do you know if the areas you highlighted are indeed a problem for the target audience? Did you conduct usability tests? Heatmaps at least? What about personas and scenarios? I also want to point out that the way you have laid out the cities do not work. They are a lot more difficult to scan.

    I have no figures to back me up with this, but I bet CL caters to a large segment of the population in any given city, many of which have little experience with computers. So they need something familiar. You will see that the CL design is largely based on newspaper listings. By implementing design elements/layouts from websites that cater to a more experienced core audience, you are in fact alienating a large percentage of your intended audience.

  44. 44

    I agree with Justin (above me). The main thing I see with Craigslist is that they wouldn’t change it too much for branding reasons. And I think the color scheme for the redesign could at least use the “famous” Craigslist color scheme. This article makes all good points, but it’s is missing the biggest point: Craigslist is. I happen to like the design of Craigslist.

  45. 45

    Brandon Christopher

    March 11, 2009 12:15 pm

    Good article.. But, as everyone has said the new design also leaves something to be desired. This actually looks more like he just laid out a wireframe than the actual redesign.

  46. 46

    I think the points brought forth are fairly standard affair when approaching a redesign, but the suggested design seems hastily put together.

    There are usability issues that impede production which are much more prevalent than the user account mechanism though. While I appreciate the simplicity of CL, the simplicity unfortunately carries over into data storage and representation. The result is having to sift through useless posts to find what you’re after.

    Craigslist is a database and its data should be able to be presented and manipulated as usefully as possible. A true redesign of CL should not be an exercise in typography and slight structural adjustments. Rather it should be an exercise in the most efficient way of categorizing, presenting and manipulating a considerable amount of data.

    Note: A red color scheme would be much more appropriate for this “redux” considering CL contains data we want to easily be able to recall. While as a creative professional it is easy to steer toward blue for, well, everything — It’s not really fitting for this particular job. I’d recommend anyone wanting to be in design, advertising or marketing brush on their color studies.

  47. 47

    Great article! The question is whether Craigslist is going to be able to ever welcome the change for their “stubbornly maintained” design.

  48. 48

    All I need is a more advanced search & the ability to view several areas at once.

  49. 49

    Thommy Browne

    March 11, 2009 12:40 pm

    About 3 years ago Ryan Sims (Virb Inc.) wrote about sitting on a panel at SXSW where the topic of discussion was “Redesigning Craigslist”. The mock ups he created (with the help of other strategists) still holds up 3 years later, and looks a hell of a lot better then the ones mention in this post.

  50. 50

    Zacqary Adam Green

    March 11, 2009 12:57 pm

    Facebook has always improved itself in its redesigns and still causes half its community to create 1000 identical “I hate this” groups. The best thing that Craigslist can do for its usability is to release an API, making it easier for developers to create their very own usable redesigns.

    Granted, the current plain text design makes this fairly easy already.

  51. 51

    I actually like the design of CL after surfing it for a few minutes :) it simply (!) works – very fast.

    but CL definately need to get the accessibility done.

  52. 52

    I love this redux of Craiglists:

    Keith Robinson – research & strategy
    Paul Nixon – branding & identity
    Cameron Moll – mobile technology
    Ryan Sims – interface & layout
    Andrei Herasimchuck – information architecture

  53. 53

    There is another great craigslist redo on the big noob that I think is way better done.

  54. 54

    This would of been a better article had you simply applied the detailed usability principles to the existing Craigslist design. Then, the point of the article would have been much stronger and not quite so pretentious.

  55. 55


    March 11, 2009 1:58 pm

    You need to put in much bigger letters that this is a wireframe redesign. I assumed so, but completely overlooked that fact in the body copy.

  56. 56

    How about a Smashing Magazine Craigslist redesign contest?

    ^ I agree. we should dual it out :) at any rate, the redesign in this article didn’t seem very professionally done. I think CL could use a redesign, for sure, just different from the proposed redesign in this article.

  57. 57

    Crap! I wanted to do this too!! I guess that’s what I get for letting it sit on the back burner, and that’s why I LOVE this site, for the truly original content!!! ;)

    Way to go!

  58. 58
  59. 59

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

    If Craigslist was that bad, people wouldn’t use it. Why is everyone obsessed with refining and improving things? Craigslist is a pioneer in its field by staying true and refusing to budge on its design, no matter how ‘outdated’ it is.

    I only wish the likes of Yahoo and google had also stayed with their old formats, which to my mind were a better, more authentic experience.

  60. 60

    I prefer the redesign from the 2006 SxSW conference, “Design Eye for the List Guy”:

    Here’s a link to more info:

    While some of the author’s comments made sense, I have to side with most of the other comments – I’m not sure what this is doing on SM. Craigslist is an easy target for a redesign exercise (and has been since its inception), and many designers have thought about how they’d want to change it. If SM is going to run an article on an fake redesign of Craigslist, you’d expect it to be awesome. Instead, this is amateurish.

    BTW, what’s up with the random choice for the logotype? This is like a student exercise.

  61. 61

    Minor detail, but “craigslist” has a lowercase “c” in its logotype, and I don’t know that “Craigslist” with a capital “C” would have the same ring to it.

  62. 62

    While Craigslist is outdated and ugly, it works well the way it is, so there’s no need to redesign.

    Even us, who are doing a ‘modern’ classifieds site,, must admit that.

    It’s nice to have a post about the redesign process, but Craigslist is probably not the best example!

  63. 63

    These comments make me ashamed to be a human.

  64. 64

    Under #4 Branding, you still have an error mixing up serif and sans serif. “Craigslist” is displayed in a serif typeface.

    It’s kind of disappointing to read an article on SM where the writer confuses the terms serif and sans serif. It makes me second-guess the writer’s expertise.

  65. 65

    Peter Murray

    March 11, 2009 3:05 pm

    The interface and usability have put me off using Craigslist before. I would consider using it if there was a new design.

  66. 66

    Why bother to offer a redesign for craigslist that will never be picked up? Why not just make this article address classifieds in general? Or discuss principles of information architecture?

    Focusing on cl feels like a waste of time AND space here at SM.

  67. 67


    March 11, 2009 3:39 pm

    Some good points. Seem mostly subjective to me. In my subjectiveness your proposals are not improvements. They exist in that gray area between slight visual enhancements and a full redesign of the underlying data architecture. Plus the proposed design mock-ups are executed poorly. The site could benefit from attention to the typography, but anything between that and a complete re-imagining of the way the user finds and presents the vastness of data is not worth the effort.

    Smashing had to know that this was a controversial topic and would generate page views and discussion, no matter what the proposed design changes were.

  68. 68

    It’s fun to use Craigslist as a hypothetical project, as it’s like starting with a clean slate with just data. One thing that I think would be nice from a functionality perspective is to take advantage of live updating…how about having feeds on the home page of ads as soon as they are posted? Could be broken out into maybe 5 major sections. Something to catch your eye and entice you in … you might see something you didn’t expect to see and wouldn’t have looked for otherwise. And these feeds could be set in your preferences, so if you never wanted to see personals, for example, they’d never show up.

  69. 69


    craigslist is familiar and using it as the example saves time; otherwise, the author would have to find /make a generic ads site and probably spend more effort/time showing said site pre-redesign. To his credit, he acknowledges that the situation is hypothetical.

    Also, to the people saying “if it ain’t broke…”; sometimes that mentality can lead to complaceny.

  70. 70

    Klaye Morrison

    March 11, 2009 5:55 pm

    I agree that Craigslist needs a redesign, but your redesign is just terrible. Sorry.

  71. 71

    craigslist occupies a unique position in the web’s culture. Agitating for a redesign makes as much sense as would campaigning for America to adopt the metric system.

    But for those who think it’s too ugly to use in its present form, the Stylish extension for Firefox currently provides more than a dozen alternatives at — and there’s always Greasemonkey…

  72. 72

    I’ve thought about a possible craigslist redesign, the ideas are clear here, but the actual redesign is pretty poor. I think there are a lot of possibilities, but this one is not going to cut it…

  73. 73

    they serve MILLIONS of users. looks don’t matter. content and speed of delivery matters. that’s why they make the bigs bucks.

  74. 74


    March 11, 2009 6:31 pm

    Like the layout of Craigslist, this idea is simple yet awesome. I wish I had thought of doing this for my senior project back when I was in graphic design.

  75. 75

    Kevin Cannon

    March 11, 2009 6:43 pm

    1994 called, it wants its awful design aesthetic (or lack thereof) back. This is WEAK.

  76. 76

    there’s a new site kind of like Craig’s List but for students called Stingy Campus, has a really nice design!

  77. 77

    Baron Von Helshmit

    March 11, 2009 7:00 pm

    Craigslist is ranked 28th for one reason only and that’s because of their sex for hire or sex for sex listings. If we’re going to discuss their UI then it should be brought up that their interface is a brown paper sleeve. Yeah, yeah, I know there’s job listings and free stuff.. Just don’t tell me you haven’t looked.

  78. 78

    Baron Von Helshmit

    March 11, 2009 7:01 pm

    Craigslist is ranked 28th for one reason only and that’s because of their sexy listings. If we’re going to discuss their UI then it should be brought up that their interface is a brown paper sleeve. Yeah, yeah, I know there’s job listings and free stuff.. Just don’t tell me you haven’t looked.

  79. 79

    only designers can knock a website that gets huge amounts of traffic. so many of you designers out there constantly reinvent / redesign things that have been working on the desktop forever. it just gets dizzying how many web/usability experts there are. what is the qualification—a computer and a hacked photoshop?

  80. 80

    Brian Temecula

    March 11, 2009 7:23 pm

    I like craigslist the way it is, with one exception. I hate the bright white background. White backgrounds make my eyes blur, to the point where I can’t stay at the computer long. I can’t even change the background in Firefox prefs, which is annoying. Help save my eyes!

  81. 81

    I highly disagree with this idea. Only because as you state:
    1. Craig’s list is Recognizable
    2. Clarity of Vision and Purpose
    3. Relatively Easy Posting Process
    4. Pages Load Quickly

    I don’t think that because “the design looks bland” is a justifiable reason to redesign it. And yes, sorry but your redesign is very terrible. It’d be like asking Google to redesign their google page.

    One thing I DO feel should be re-adjusted, or re-managed might be the managing of posts. But even that isn’t a huge deal to assess a whole redesign.

  82. 82

    @Dave Totally agree with you on that. I’m not a fan of the redesign at all, but the ones you linked to are *very* nice!

  83. 83

    Absolutely brilliant.

    These redesign “so-and-so” are a dime a dozen. But this was well thought out, amazing done and made for not only a great read, but very educational.

  84. 84

    Spank McMonkey

    March 11, 2009 8:17 pm

    craigslist’s user interface can be improved, for sure.

  85. 85

    David Singer

    March 11, 2009 8:35 pm

    I think you made it worse, and given CL current design thats tough to do.

  86. 86

    Ricky Irvine

    March 11, 2009 8:42 pm

    Plenty of times throughout this article it is mentioned how recognizable the current design is, and that “drastic changes are not realistic.” And yet, somehow, when it comes to presenting us with the proposed alternative design, those ideas were completely lost.

    The proposed designs in this article are absurd. They are so drastically and habitually different, in shape and color and placement, I can’t at all believe they resulted from any contemplation about what actually makes Craigslist recognizable.

    Using “the design is bland and outdated” is not a very good argument to build on, especially when you’re talking about making one of the most-used websites in the world “more usable.” Obviously the subjective “bland and outdated” part of the design does not matter to people who use the website, because they keep using it. I, for one, don’t think it’s bland. It’s minimal (not in a mid-century modern way), but not bland.

    Is “outdated” really that important? I saw a new women’s clothing catalog recently that looked like it was pulling design elements in from the 1980’s. I thought it looked great. Outdated?

    I’m afraid for anyone who reads this article without thinking twice of it.

  87. 87

    Excellent analysis. Too bad those jerks at CL couldn’t care less.

  88. 88

    Let’s hold a contest – who can best redesign the site! :P

  89. 89

    The biggest problem with CL is the lack of sorting and filtering of results. If you are only looking at a few results, the current site is fine and seems simple. If you are doing something like looking for a condo rental for example, it is easy to become overwhelmed with information. The site does a poor job of supporting both user (searchers and listers) in these types of regards. I would think this is one area for example where CL could be making more revenue from their customers. As one of the posters above (#50) commented, this is a backend and a front end issue. If you are looking for a condo in San Diego for the week of July 1-8 for example, there is no way to search for that. When you do a search and get 500+ results, it becomes too cumbersome to sort through them. their interface needs to allow those inputting the data (the property owners) to input availability dates. and those searching to do the same. There is no way to filter down result sets. They don’t need to get too carried away and go overboard. they can preserve the CL simplicity, but some key functionality like this would make the experience MUCH easier. tasks like this become overwhelming and then we go to a different site.

    the first point in the redesign comment strikes me as how designers think because they have a different visual aesthetic than the rest of us. people like the simplicity of the design and the lack of graphics and fast loading pages is part of that craigslist brand. It’s not clear that that is really a problem to be solved.

    findability of information like the inventory example above are major issues however. I’ve also had experiences where the site search did not work properly. For example, i was looking for an iphone and typed it from the homepage and got a certain number of results. and then went into the electronics section and got a different number (larger). i’ve seen these types of examples on many occasions which leads me to wonder if there is an internal search indexing problem. and again that could mean that users are leaving the site because they cannot find things that may be listed but CL is showing a lack of inventory.

  90. 90

    Craiglist gives me the creeps, it makes me feel like i’m back in 1994, but your redesign isn’t better :-|

  91. 91

    Rene Kriest ProBloggerWorld

    March 12, 2009 12:17 am


    I already feel 100% more energized after skimming through this article and I am very excited to read it. Thanks for sharing your thought. This is a great way to learn for I think that I am having a conference with the author.

    Well I think that quite a few folks mention the (g)UI thing.

    Sites that heavily rely on database querys just like CL are nowadays destined to make extensive use of AJAX. This way customers can sort and work the results.

  92. 92

    Andrei Gonzales

    March 12, 2009 12:32 am

    LOL @ the reaction.

    Attempting to redesign Craigslist is career suicide. Once you attempt, and fail (and you will, as everyone else has in the past), everyone will say “hey, you’re the guy who thought he could tackle Craigslist”.

    The simple truth is: Craigslist is already a very well designed site. It is, IMHO, one of the best directory websites in existence. As the owner himself said: “why fix what isn’t broke?”

  93. 93

    Jon Gunnar Wold

    March 12, 2009 12:57 am

    What a silly post. Consider the mission instead, to enable buyers to meet sellers – it’s a marketplace. If you take away the sellers, the buyers and the goods and services they trade, what is left of a marketplace? Nothing. And that’s why craigslist works so well. The site itself is nothing, instead it’s 100% focused on the core task of bringing buyer and seller together.

    Starting from a look & layout point of view is a 1998 arse-first approach to a redesign. See Jesse James Garretts elements of user experience for a better way to start. Oh it’s already 9 years old. Bummer. I guess it’s really web 1.0 stuff that surely can’t work at all these days huh.

  94. 94

    The only bad SM post I’ve ever seen, terrible redesign…

  95. 95

    Seems you put a very good effort on Craiglist and also evident that you use craiglist very frequently. And btw as you have suggested, you could have done better as well. I don’t think your design is spectacular enough to motivate CL owner to decide to give it a shot.

  96. 96

    Ugly redesign. I also like better.

  97. 97

    :D You managed to make it look even worse!

  98. 98

    Thanks for the article! I enjoyed the process presented. Obviously the folks who think the design is bad don’t understand what you’re trying to do. I feel the article could have went past the wireframe concept and incorporated the color palette and icons that were mentioned. Maybe you’re saving that for later!

  99. 99

    one of the weakest SM articles I’ve ever scanned.

    I don’t think the redesign is any real improvement.

    Back to icon packs and calendar wallpapers i think.

  100. 100

    it’s = it is

  101. 101

    I have a successful web company that does not employ “designers” – people that think “better looking” is “more professional”.

    Craigslist works because it satisfies the customers. It does not need to be prettier. And it saves a lot of money by not fixing what is not broken.

    The new redesign is in fact ugly and unprofessional. I suggest you work on websites that have a readership of at least a million or make that amount of money before you try to tackle craigslist.

  102. 102

    Amazing how many people think the work displayed here IS the redesign. You guys in the industry, or what…? These are wireframes folks, cut and dry.

  103. 103

    Beautiful concept. I definitely like it. But when it comes to Craigslist – I don’t know, but I feel like exactly it’s terrible design might be the reason why it’s so popular/successful. It represents independence – it’s not like all the other, nice-designed, commercial sell/buy sites… hard to describe it. But I don’t think I’d like a re-design (for fonts and colors).. maybe I’m just being “nostalgic”.

  104. 104

    I disagree with this article.

    The main reason, being is you’re losing the branding created. The simple blue links and the layout are instantly recognizable as Craigslist. Creating instant recognition is the hardest part about creating a brand and you’re losing that right-off-the-bat.

    I think this mock-up created by the people from Virb/The Big Noob/Neubix Studios does a better job of keeping Craigslist’s brand and making it much nicer on the eye:

  105. 105

    Andrew Brown

    March 12, 2009 6:02 am

    I have to disagree with this article, craigslist is a a solid design. Its intent it exactly what it is, its about putting up as much textual information information in front of the user. If it wanted to make it easier to filter than they’d rename it “Kijijiji”

  106. 106

    Michael McDaniel

    March 12, 2009 6:32 am

    The one thing that craigslist does very well is displaying an incredible amount of information. I don’t have a problem with your design of the page itself, but your header wastes valuable space that is well utilized with the current craigslist design. (and it is a design – dated or not)

    I do believe that the current craigslist look should not change. (although having selectable themes might be nice) Like what others have said, google looks almost the same as it did when it started. Yahoo kept changing their design and I think they lost a lot of loyalty. People like simplicity.

  107. 107

    Great article, agree with you 100%. I often have trouble with Craigslist navigation, and often go search elsewhere for classifieds, even though Craigslist probably has to most options for me. The proposed redesign is great, but even if they didn’t want to redesign, I’d say they need to step it up about 10 notches with usability in the least.

  108. 108

    There is this site where the guy already did a redesign of Craigslist oh wait 4353 persons already told that :)

    It’s funny that people say to not change something that works. Must be true for sometime but everything must evolve at some points.

    There are websites that were doing very well and get beaten by others/newcomers. It’s the web, people are just a click away to switch to your competitor.

  109. 109

    Good proposal! I think you need to submit it to Craigslist!

  110. 110

    I agree that Craigslist seriously needs attention to usability, but this attempt falls short on many accounts and seems more like an attempt to put a pretty face/re-brand the site rather than a serious UI redesign..

  111. 111

    This article is poo, but I still love u smashing mag.

  112. 112

    Chris Robinson

    March 12, 2009 11:29 am

    not really feeling the actual redesign mock, but the in depth article is well written

  113. 113

    I agree with a few of points about signing up process and such.
    But couldn’t disagree more on it being badly organized and bad branding.

    There is a reason it is popular. The same reason people like the layout of Drudge report.

    It lets people explore without all the clutter in a simple gridded manner.

    The proposed redesign is not that great.

    But keep up the good work Smashing, I just feel you are for once a bit off on this.

  114. 114

    I don’t believe that you can get to be as popular as craigslist without knowing what you are doing. I think that a site redesign would be highly sucessful in moving them from 28th on the alexa ranking to a strong 52nd.

  115. 115

    its about time!

  116. 116

    You’re redesign ruins the site – the way it is is what makes it good. Your redesign makes it look like any ever other mediocre site out there.

  117. 117

    David Dyer-Bennet

    March 12, 2009 12:26 pm

    Why do you think your version is better? What sort of usability analysis did you actually do?

    One obvious question is how much have you reduced the space for actual content on the screen, in comparison to the actual sizes of Craigslist pages? Finding things in those lists is tolerable partly because so much is on the screen at once; as you reduce that, you reduce the most core usability of the site, I think.

    You should have started with an analysis of time spent on common tasks, and which pages it’s spent on. That would start you out with an understanding of what could be improved, I think.

  118. 118

    popurls approach could work well for CL. as it is, the proposed approach is weaker than I expected from SM.

  119. 119

    John Leschinski

    March 12, 2009 12:31 pm

    I didn’t think it could have been made to look worse. But I was wrong.

  120. 120

    Craigslist is intentionally simple and fast loading. It is what it is. That simple, unstyled look is the craigslist brand. At this point, changing craigslist would essentially be a rebranding, and why on earth would you rebrand the 28th most popular website.

  121. 121

    I am a strong believer in “if it aint broke…” but I would like to see CL to an alt version of the site that is super-GUI – load it it up with slickness! but leave the the old comfortable sweater alone!

  122. 122

    let’s leave CL the way it is. The existing site is better than the comp.

  123. 123

    Chris Robinson

    March 12, 2009 12:52 pm

    I guess the old adage of don’t fix it, if it ain’t broke fits well with Craigslist

    Its by no means a beautiful site, but it is functional and serves its purpose. I do agree there are some areas of the site that could benefit from a little realign.

  124. 124

    Wow, talk about a redesign with little substance and a lot of standard designer nonsense. Why should all that stuff be in the upper right in a premium above the fold location? It may seem logical that About Us is the first link on the page, but it reflects poorly on actual usability. Tons of wasted space, breadcrumbs for a one layer deep interface, search not right up and front… well, let us just say I don’t know who is going to hire you, but it won’t be anyone who actually cares about usability. Much like the other designer wannabes, it may be time to actually think about things other than prettifying.

  125. 125

    Congrats. You took a perfectly unique and usable website and turned into another boring cookie-cutter POS

  126. 126

    they could leave the design but enable image views in the listings….

  127. 127

    wow, that design is really bad… informative article, but i mean that is uglier than the current CL. (i’m sorry of my comment seems offensive, that just really took me off guard)

  128. 128

    Jason Godsey

    March 12, 2009 1:10 pm

    I’m sorry, but your proposed design is not better. Please ask why CraigsList is so popular? Because infact, it’s very easy to navigate and use. I think the current layout is perfect.
    In addition, your heading is awful. Why waste all that screen space on trash people don’t care about. They know it’s craigslist by the url and they’re after the ads.

  129. 129


    In a million years from this article you still wouldn’t be able to create an interface as intuitive and simple as craigslist which is why they’ve stood the test of time with this”10 year old design”

    I wish I could bury this.

  130. 130

    If you’re going to suggest redesigning a credible website like Craigslist at least make your redesign credible. The suggested new design is even worse.

  131. 131

    seems you guys hit a nerve. hehe

    I like where you’re going with this, I don’t particularly like the design (even if coloured) – I think it could be simpler, tbh, but the ideas, arguments and rest of the article are very good – even if it’s just to use CL as a usability/UX case.

    I think a usability upgrade, when done well, can always benefit the user, and if done incrementally over time, the negative impact to the user can be greatly reduced.

    I feel people intrinsically respond to good design – so if you put a bad design infront of someone with no other options, they’ll use it, accept it, and possibly grow to love it, but if you place a better one in front of them as well, they’ll (usually) pic the better one straight off – so I think, even though it works now, to say that it doesn’t need a makeover, is a little shortsighted, imo.

    Just look at facebook – huge amount of users, but they seemed to pull off their redesign without too much recoil – and even for those who didn’t like it, I’d think it took only a few times of using before they were used to it. So, keeping a user in a bad environment just because they might moan a little for the first few times they use a better environment is also shortsighted, imo.

    One thing I do wonder about, though, is what impact a more graphically heavy site will have on their traffic, bandwidth & speed, although, it could be argued that reducing the table layout to standards-based, if done well, could balance that out (more or less)

    All-in-all, I think this was a great article, and if anything, it spurred a great discussion! Anyone feel like writing a Stylish script, maybe? :)

  132. 132

    That link from thebignoob looks like the cutline theme in wordpress.

    Haters, chill. It is just an article.

  133. 133

    Wow…you’ve updated a 10 year old design with an 8 year old design…I’m impressed.

  134. 134

    Excellent article on website redesign/branding. I would like to bring up one factor that seems to have been missed.

    Any craigslist redesign also needs to factor in the increased cost structures. One of the reasons that craigslist has grown so large is because the code is so simple that they can run the whole site with a minimal number of servers and employees (23 the last time I checked). Most of the classifieds are free or have minimal costs. If the proposed design changes cost an extra 1% of a penny per page view (due to increased servers needed, extra bandwidth, etc.), it would increase monthly costs by 1.2 million dollars based on its 12 billion monthly page views.

    I’m not a computer programmer so I can’t make any judgments on what kind of impact the proposed design would have. My point is that small changes can have huge impacts on the bottom line for a company handling as much traffic as craigslist.

  135. 135

    Visually it looks good (better than the harsh DesignEye link), but there are a few problems here: simply because you didn’t bring it together. you showed the new header but all the rest (colors, etc) were not brought together for us to see. On the secondary page, where does everything go? We see the new sidebar, but how is the layout of the main section affected? Also, the header as you designed it is taking up too much room if it’s to be on every page.

    Once again, it looks good: The aim was to stay close to the current Craigslist and the DesignEye link is too white and a drastic departure while harder to read because of smaller fonts.

  136. 136

    It’s funny how like 200 comments on here point out the bignoob link, when a quick comment scan could have shown them it was already done.

    Well written article, results inconsistent with points. Your changes for visual purposes (imge logo, wider page, etc) detract from CL’s effectiveness on lower end or mobile devices. Another note on utilizing space: People spend much more time browsing than posting, so instead of emphasizing that huge login bar you should be emphasizing search and filtering features. In other words, the article title says you’re focusing on usability but your actual changes say otherwise.

  137. 137

    The ideas of improving usability and reducing visual clutter are great.
    But why make font smaller? It does not improve usability.
    Also, fixed width is a scourge of current web design. HTML and CSS allow to make sites that intelligently fill your screen, be it wide or small. Fixed width makes people with wide screens feel that their real estate is wasted, and people with small screens (think iPhone or EEE) annoyed by horizontal scrolling.

  138. 138

    A’ight, my two cents here.
    1) Craigslist is fine, it works, it does what it does, and does it well.
    2) You’re all just desgin fags with nothing better do to. Go make a product, do something and leave CL alone.

  139. 139

    why all that “about CL” and “help” menus at the top of your suggestion?
    why i hardly see whats link in your suggestion?
    big fail sorry

  140. 140

    Joseph Jaber

    March 12, 2009 4:38 pm

    I think most people supporting “The Big Noob” redesign and posting links to it must be missing the point. The Big Noob design is just a flashier trend-following design. It solves no usability issues or does nothing. It has useless statistic line graphs on the right and many other little graphical design tidbits that seemed to want to, “impress” more than change functionality and usability. If you just look at the several rows of line graphs on the right and ask, “How is this helping me literally as a buyer?” it doesn’t at all. It has the average price sales of say cars in the car section. Well car prices dramatically differ depending on the car everything in each section dramatically can differ, what a large help… so was that a Kelly Blue Book type of price aid? No. It is just, “Oh look at a useless feature that makes unusable insignificant line graphs…”

    What I like about the Smashing Magazine redesign is it actually aims to solve usability issues. There’s a lot of talk about, “This redesign is ugly.” Are you guys commenting designers or are you “users” who just like to critique and script kiddy your way into web development? And most of them seem to exhibit baby duck syndrome. Or talk about baby duck syndrome without knowing that it’s called by that name. So they obviously haven’t read previous articles about usability.

    I think what your design did was excellent, it solves all of the usability issues of Craigslist. Yes, navigating through Craigslist is terrible. This redesign stays as true to Craigslist as it can and attempts to solve real problems or enhance the experience without following the cut and paste trendy attitude that The Big Noob aimed for, and still managing to update the appearance along the way. “Good designers redesign, great designers realign.” oh this audience probably doesn’t read those articles either. They probably must look at the pictures and headlines.

  141. 141

    haters: its a lovely day outside. a great day to be alive. go chase some tail or hug your mum. we love you even when you throw tantrums!

    thanks SM for a great read.

  142. 142

    No more Link [The Big Noob] please!

  143. 143

    I really like the re-design. I have actually made a living out of buying and selling items on Craigslist so I spend 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week on the site. Something needs to be done about the usability of the site. All the unnessary clicks and half-empty pages are a huge waste of time. I could care less how the site looks though. In fact, I like the minimalism. It’s the least distracting site I visit. So I say keep the navigation bars, ditch the make-over. It’s Craigslist. It’s supposed to be boring.

  144. 144





    go back to design school fool. pay attention this time.

  145. 145

    Personally, I have no problem with CraigsList (CL) as it is, but your proposed design approach is properly methodical about retaining the features that make CL so powerful, without loosing the feel. Good stuff that’ll probably go unnoticed by CL.

    If I did request a change, I’d like CL to allow me to “lightly” skin my CL with colors/typefaces and maybe even some subtle graphic elements. To keep it from getting wonky, CL could provide the 4-8 skin variations, so they maintain the basic design, but allow me to choose something more to my liking.

  146. 146


    March 13, 2009 6:21 am

    It’s a


    It’s funny that people claiming to be design professionals can’t tell the difference between a WIREFRAME and a COMP. Idiots.

  147. 147

    “It’s a


    It’s funny that people claiming to be design professionals can’t tell the difference between a WIREFRAME and a COMP. Idiots.”

    Thank you!! I can’t believe some of the comments here.

  148. 148

    This article lost credibility once it started talking about the login.
    Most cragislist users that I know NEVER log in. You don’t have to.

  149. 149

    I think we should just leave Craiglist alone, they’re original and the page itself is straight to the point, they’re getting a lot of traffics and people love the simplicity. Taking a different approach would be a big mistake! btw… the proposal redesign layout is horrible!

  150. 150

    I rather enjoy craigslist design and the original design, to me, is near perfect in terms of usability.

  151. 151
  152. 152

    All this “designeye” linkage cracks me up. Their design doesn’t do anything for useability and looks uneven to me. (There aren’t any rows to speak of so borders float unevenly like little platforms.) Not to mention the dumping of all the localities at the bottom just looks like a jumble.

    Insulting a mockup wireframe as horrible design, rather than trying to offer constructive criticism, just goes to show how pretensious and immature a lot of you wannabe designers are. Just painting pretty colored flowers or crazy, edgy skulls to make things look “cool” doesn’t make you a designer. (Nor does giving Craigslist more white space and a cute little Austin symbol.)


    p.s. Just noticed Joseph Jaber’s comments within the hundered and fifty or so comments; he puts it out much more elegantly than I did.

  153. 153

    The use of whitespace on this redesign is horrible imho.

  154. 154

    I am a web developer/designer and I say this is a classic “expert” pretending to know it all. It is probably your opinion to modify the site here and there but that is your opinion. So what if the site is not visually pleasing, it works perfectly. When you Mr. Snell can design, build and deploy a web site that will attract 30 million ads every month come back and right articles then we will start paying attention to what you write. It would be like redesigning the pyramids of Egypt because they are not visualy pleasing…give me a break!!!

  155. 155

    One in 10 comments mentioned some 3 years old Craigslist “redesign” (there, I mentioned it too). Don’t you people read the previous posts?

  156. 156

    Craigslist look makes them unique. Overall, from type-design to colors and the rest – It is part of them.

  157. 157

    I have never had any problems with craigslist until 7 days ago. Now, I am unable to access with my laptop or my home computer. I am not computer savy and have tried everything I know how to do. Can you help? Vickie

  158. 158

    Part of CL’s astounding success is due to its simple UI. Yes, the layout is table based. So what?! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Long live craigslist!

  159. 159

    A likely motivator to keep things simple is to keep the site accessable to people with simple and old computer and who are still on slow connections. Some may prefer a trendy looking site and scare off 10% of traffic while thinking that there are plenty. Others want every customer in because this can mean a deal to one of the posters.

    Also burning so many expensive designer and consultant hours on redesign and getting ready for another redesign is plain stupid. More businesses ought to act like craigslist.

  160. 160

    Ya sorry SM…I have to agree with the masses and say you missed it on this one.

    I have to say I am one of those people that actually likes the Craigslist design (and yes, I am a professional designer).

  161. 161

    Personally, I think their simplicity and bare bones approach is part of their branding, and most folks know exactly how to use them… and how to navigate. You can always make a site better, but I would migrate to any redesign in phases, and make sure my focus groups were comfortable with each phase… Just my 2 cents.

  162. 162

    No, to everything that you suggest. CL works; I wish that more websites were so simple, instead of so distracting.

    Get a life: go figure out about how to solve global warming instead of wasting your time screwing around with something that doesn’t need fixing

  163. 163

    Rakesh Sivan

    March 15, 2009 7:58 pm

    The Craigslist seems prefectly okay and fine with me. Then what’s the need for rethinking ?

  164. 164

    Lucian Florian

    March 15, 2009 10:56 pm

    Murphy’s law: “Don’t try to repair something that is not broken.”

    I love craigslist for usability and the design I think should stay the way it is. It’s craigslist!

  165. 165

    Richard Spencer Davies

    March 16, 2009 2:11 am

    TheBigNoob focused on usability and design, the redesign here just looks drab!

  166. 166

    Sorry but your redesign is not better than the current one. Craigslist is great because its old-school. If it ever made a “new” design, I think it would never be as good as the current one. It is simple and usable, that is by people like it. No one is threatened by it, that is why the old and young use craigslist. Craiglist FTW!

  167. 167

    I actually follow a site going through a lot of the same issues. is a site for running enthusiasts and is massively popular, yet has a terrible and outdated design. I think this is part of the appeal though. While I agree with a lot of your points, I think you are ignoring the business side. By redesigning the site, you risk alienating a lot more people than you stand to gain. It may make sense from a design and functionality aspect, but from a business sense it would be insane.

  168. 168

    John Leschinski

    March 18, 2009 12:53 am

    I’m concerned at how many of the comments here seem to be positive about this “re-design”. Has our industry really declined that much? It’s hard to take anything I read on Smashing Mag seriously now.

  169. 169

    Less is more, and the lowercase is part of Craigslist’s branding. Calling it “unprofessional” is mighty presumptuous.

    File this one away under “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

  170. 170

    Did you guys ever see the Spanish version of Craigslist??! Type ” Clasilistados ” in google and see it for yourself…


  171. 171

    redesign: FAIL

  172. 172


  173. 173

    Isaac Weinhausen

    March 20, 2009 8:34 am

    What’s Wrong With Craigslist?: 1. The Design is Bland and Outdated

    Haha, and this is a problem? Seriously, why is this an issue? Please backup this claim, rationally. Newspaper classifieds have been ugly forever, and they have been very usable.

    Good design does not equate to beautiful aesthetic style. Style is merely a tool — not every tool is necessary for the job.

  174. 174

    What is important to craigslist imagine is the simplicity and the redesign kept that as it’s focus. Having lacking design is in fact, and very ironically, the design of craigslist. I think Smashing hit the nail on the head – it’s just right. I personally think the bignoob design is still very confused and unorganized.

  175. 175

    I think a lot of peeps are missing the point. YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE BRAND DRAMATICALLY. That was the whole point of this re-design article. All it needs is a few typographical and spacing choices – as has been suggested – and a slight re-grouping of content.

    I think this approach is right because it is on brand, doesn’t deviate too much from the original brand, and just cleans things up a touch. That said, I would maybe have gone with a shade of “link-blue” and make any “blue” a hue of link-blue for colors used say in a header.

    Now looking at the big noob’s re-design, as nice as it is, it doesn’t feel or look like Craigslist. It’s off brand. It no longer feels comfortable. It needs to maintain it’s link blue, lists of links and default sans serif. Spacing, line-heights and a little bit of blue.

  176. 176

    Good try, ain’t gonna happen. :) Just use the “SEARCH” feature. IT WORKS!

  177. 177

    James Eunson

    March 26, 2009 6:39 pm

    I agree that a redesign is in order and the author of this article is completely on the right track, but the proposed redesign is just really ugly.

    This is where it’s at:

  178. 178

    Siouxie Boshoff

    April 21, 2009 2:48 pm

    CraigsList is brilliant enough to keep millions coming back, and from a designer’s eye, it needs a lot of help – but the bottom line is IT WORKS and people use it. The suggested redesign is brilliant in that it vastly improves the usability, but keeps it simple and maintains the existing identity. Sometimes looks are not everything.

  179. 179

    now, this is the perfect time for someone who created a site that searches all of craigslist to pretend they didn’t create it and let everyone know of the “cool” site they found – try it:

  180. 180

    So then you want the Craigs List to be like .. censored .. like paid ad directed Google.. like other people decide what you get to see,,, what they think you should see.. real information died when the search engines followed the money.. Do No Evil my Arse..

  181. 181

    This guy is a BIG WOOP
    First of all I did not like the design that link had rather I hated it when considered in comparison to the suggestions in this post.

    Plus I got really bugged by repeated links to this Big Woop website !!
    I hope it was not the same person posting it over and over again… damn attention seekers !!

    I found this post to be very useful I would rather use the new design in comparison to the one already in use but I am an IT guy so it really does not matters. Mostly people are going to be happy to stick with the existing design and frankly speaking they wont even give a damn about usability.. cause they are already used to having it that way.

    Well these suggestions are going to be very useful for new websites so that there users get used to good usability :)

    Aditya Raj
    Web Developer / IT Consultant

  182. 182

    the points mentioned in this article are exactly what the craigslist user does not wannt. no clutter easy to use fast quick service. kind of like a penny saver, without all the colorful bullshit. why do you think craigslist is top? there must be something that distinguishes craigslist from all the millions of crappy classifieds websites. those exact differences is what keeps craigstlist at top.

    by the way Myspace and craigslist are one of the top websites in the world, they both use tables. there is nothing wrong with tables?

  183. 183

    CraigsToolbox has images and maps and it just works right inside Craigslist.

  184. 184

    I don’t know- just leave CL alone- it works awesomely.. and that new design… ugh.. no… no no no.

    There are always exceptions to the rule: CL IS the exception.

  185. 185


    April 22, 2011 2:35 pm

    one other thing you forgot to mention. not all postings on craigslists are legit. and often times, there’s no way to tell.

    secondly, users who post have the option of cloaking their e-mail or not. I never understood personally. if you’re a legitimate company looking for potential employees, why the hell do you need to hide your e-mail address?

    plus, it makes it almost impossible to trace where correspondence is going is contact details are sketchy (and often are).

  186. 186

    Craigslist should make ONE search option for the ENTIRE website. The unofficial site – they had this option; but Craigslist scared them away – a shame since they got it right and made the use of easy – I bought 4 cars this way, from my home in europe! Don’t they know internet is world wide…

  187. 187

    PLEASE do something about the ease of FLAGGING !!!!
    Someone selling the same thing as me will now FLAG ANYTHING I Try to do.
    It becomes a tremendous waste of time, as this person tries to keep me out of CL.
    He is succeeding. Not fair. Please do something to make this stop.



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