The glory of Craigslist is “its size and its price,” notes writer Gary Wolf in a provocative dissection of the site in the September edition of Wired. But “Craigslist is one of the strangest monopolies in history, where customers are locked in by fees set at zero and where the ambiance of neglect is not a way to extract more profit but the expression of a worldview.”
Wolf, unable to get much out of CEO Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark in terms of their business vision, a typical experience, is especially frustrated by the site’s primitive technology. “It is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped,” he writes. “Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years. Chances are Craigslist has considered it and rejected it.”
Sometimes, however, Craigslist’s primitiveness just works. The simplistic site, for instance, makes for a natural, fast loading mobile app. Whether or not you like the “people power” politics of the site’s leaders, which excludes all marketers from the table, Wolf concludes that the site just doesn’t have to be so bad.
He talks to several top designers, who all are quick to acknowledge that the site does its job, and then some. But it could be easily improved. Remodeling ideas would highlight search, line up columns, and recognize visited links. Open up the gates, Mr. Buckmaster!