17th biggest company in the world

I’d wager that the reason the Berkshire Hathaway web site is as ugly as it is is because Warren Buffett doesn’t see a reason to change it.

I’d also guess that it remains in its current form because it exemplifies Buffett’s outlook on spending — which is to be conservative with money.

The design leaves a lot to be desired, but you must admit it gets the job done. The site is usable. I can find the annual report, or the GEICO affiliate link for goodness sake.

I have been thinking about this for a few days and something about it really irks me. It is that design doesn’t need to be expensive. My guess is that Buffett wants his investors to perceive the company as thrifty. By leaving the site as it is, and publishing annual reports without a thought given to the design he most likely achieves this goal.

But does he accomplish one purpose and miss another? Does the Berkshire Hathaway brand suffer because of a lack of design or does it succeed without it?

I believe that a good designer could give the Berkshire Hathaway brand some incredible design weight while holding to the values Buffett wants to convey.

This post was originally inspired by a post on Hacker News about this topic.

Website Builders

As many of you know, I built a web-based CMS. While my product is aimed mostly at people with an existing site, I recently did some research on web-based site builders, aimed at new sites, and wanted to share my findings with the Brainfuel faithful. I found 4 products and they all look great, especially for those occasions when you need to whip a site up quickly.

1) Squarespace
Squarespace
This is my favorite of the bunch. It’s not free. Pricing starts at $8 per month. That’s what a lot of us pay for shared hosting, so it’s pretty reasonable. This system is very user friendly and the menus and dialogs are very Applesque. One of their claims to fame is that Kevin Rose uses it. They also feature some really nice designs.

2) Brightegg

Brightegg is also a paid service (they do offer a free package) with pricing starting at $19 per month. If you happen to be a designer, they have a program where you can make money by submitting your designs. Another great thing about Brightegg is that they have a private label service.

3) Weebly

This site builder is totally free and features some nice designs. They offer a developer API that allows some extended functionality.

4) Synthasite

Finally we have Synthasite, a completely free site builder that offers (like the others) a design, hosting, and custom domains (custom domains cost money).

These are all great products and for canned websites, they have some very impressive designs and features. For free or for the cost of hosting, you can slap nice site together in minutes.