Since the beginning of the internet era, website designers have always had to choose functionality or design. But with new graphic technologies and more advanced coding coming to light, some designers are realizing that it isn’t a debate at all.
Design, as a matter of fact, should complement functionality, not contrast it.
Let’s envision a good website and review how design and functionality complement each other. When you click on the link, the page loads fast (functionality). The title at the top of the page shows you where you are (functionality). After the page has loaded, the first thing you see are the colors of the page (design). They work together, directing the eye to the most important pieces of content (design). The second thing you notice is the menu bar. The design lets the menu bar stand out; it is easy to find (design). The menu is each to read and the titles of the links don’t leave you guessing which page they lead to (functionality). The page itself is divided up into sections, making the content easy to distinguish, read, and understand (design).
Through this example, we can see how both design and functionality work together to create an effective site.
Design is responsible for keeping the viewer’s attention. Studies show that a web page has just 3 seconds to make an impression before the user viewer decides to stay or leave, and a page has only 12 seconds to meet the viewer’s needs before they find someone else to help them. The design is what catches the viewer’s eye. A good design also sends a message to the viewer regarding the company’s personality, quality, and the way they do business.
Functionality, on the other hand, is responsible for keeping the viewer. If a website is easy to navigate and the viewer can find the information they are looking for easily, the viewer is likely visit the site often or experience all that the website has to offer.
Functionality is a great gauge at seeing how effective the company is at communicating their ideas to their clients or customers in face-to-face situations.
Both parts play an important role, but if both are not used effectively, the website is useless. If a viewer does not find the website visually appealing or it “hurts their eyes”, they may not stay on the website long enough to see how easy it is to navigate. In the same aspect, someone may like the looks of the website, but will not spend their time figuring out how to find the hidden information they need.