Being well-known in the design community had its benefits when we started the Network. The majority of first round submissions were design related sites done by designers and a great deal of these sites were top-notch with regards to design quality. The Network got labeled as one where all sites are beautiful and over time people became to believe that a requirement to join us was a great blog design.
Well to be honest, design does play a factor, but it isn’t about beauty.
When looking at sites, the ones with great designs do keep us on their pages longer, but that doesn’t replace great content. Sites that are simply unreadable due to their design get about 2 seconds of our time. We don’t expect beautiful, but we do expect clean so that we can get to your content. We are not a design gallery and we don’t showcase great designs, we showcase quality content, so please make it easy for us to get to.
Don’t fall under the misconception that everyone uses RSS. You want people reading your site then give them the content front and center. Don’t get cute with things because you probably get annoyed just as easily when visiting another site and you can’t get to the content immediately. So you see, design does play a huge role, but not in the way you probably thought.