Craigslist’s Dominance

May 21st, 2008 | Categories: content, design, markets, networks, social media, strategy, usability

The Craigslist site is as simple as it gets. Literally, it can’t get any simpler. Strategically-placed links form the underlying interface. Having said that, it is by far the most dominant classified ad site on the net. With such a simple offering and total domination, how is anyone supposed to compete?

I keep putting emphasis on the word “simple” but it cannot be over-emphasized. Simplicity is Craigslist’s key differentiator. Note that this doesn’t mean that the site lacks functionality. The team has found a nice equilibrium — the interface is clean and unique, while the service is surprisingly functional. Often, people overlook the intuitive, built-in features that allow the community to self-regulate. This bodes well for the scalability and sustainability of the site. Moreover, it doesn’t necessarily force Craigslist to ramp up human resources with added growth.

Competitors will need to differentiate based on content and/or targeted area. Some rivals, such as Kijiji and Gumtree, are making in-roads — but very slowly. The battle against Craigslist will not be won in one day. It will take a long time before this giant can be dismantled piece by piece.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Ira Says:

    Craigslist is the last bastion of old-school websites. It will be a sad day if they ever go Web 2.0 and covered in ads (aka EBay getting what they want).

  2. Jesse Says:

    There is also the emergence of, which does for online classifieds what did for online retail businesses. They aggregate ads from sites accross the web, solving what’s becoming an increasingly major pain of having fragmented userbases accross so many individual ad sites. See a service like this as being a one-day threat to the good folks at CL.

  3. San Diego Web Development Says:

    Craigslist is a POWERFUL user tool! 90% Of all of our hires in the last 7 years have been from CL. They did start charging for job postings, but you can peruse the resumes for free. It is a powerful community website! I couldn’t imagine a change, that would be like google changing their home page - I wouldn’t know what to do… Every web user would have to be re-trained! CL - you must keep with the status quo on this one!

Leave a Comment