Does it really matter how you look on the outside or do the mechanics of your mind matter more? The age-old question of function versus form has been tossed about to no end.
As a field, web design is not spared. Discussions on the importance of both aspects have been ongoing since the early 90s – dated back to when the idea of the website was born. As a site owner, how might you be able to balance the two? What are the questions you should be asking yourself? What role do either aspect play and how important are they to today’s audience?
Challenge the Norm – Does Form Always Follow Function?
In the design world, American architect Louis Sullivan’s infamous phrase ‘Form ever follows function’ has been heralded for decades. In essence, this still holds true – an aesthetically pleasing site which fails to serve its intended function will not be useful to the user if at all.
The current trend in digital design is to question and challenge the ‘form follows function’ notion. By replacing the traditional form (think of the move from number pads on phones to the prevailing touch-screen keyboard), designers are able to disrupt norms and reinvent function. Web designers are also challenged to push the boundaries of aesthetics in web design, for example, to make navigation more seamless – whether it’s embedding multimedia content in the site itself or the use of the endless scroll. One thing is clear, the form can, in fact, redefine function (remember how things were before the iPod shuffle?).
Aesthetics – How Much Is Too Much?
In the visual and digital age, form and aesthetics have strengthened their position as defining factors in the consumer’s purchasing decisions. Branding and packaging can, at times, prevail over the specifications of digital products – and the evidence of this consumer behaviour lies in the revenue and sales. In the highly competitive design world, you can go too far in prioritizing design.
The pressure to be minimalistic and to chant the ‘less is more’ mantra can result in the omission of important and necessary functionalities form your site. Imagine an e-Commerce site that is designed to showcase its products in detail from every single angle and in multiple shots. This site could be visually appealing and overridden with photos – but could be missing a key function (such as comparing price between products) that the user requires to make a purchasing decision. The last thing you want is a beautiful site with an ugly experience for your user.
Make A Decision That Suits Your Brand
When it comes to functionality vs. aesthetics, the key lies in the balance. Of course, you can choose to prioritise one over the other to a greater degree based on your branding. There is no harm in positioning yourself as more inclined to provide form or functionality – and users themselves are highly aware of that. But how would you know when to start steering away from the direction you are headed towards?
Having experienced UX and UI designers collaborate on building your site can make a world of difference. With just one lens to view your site through (either prioritising form or function), the eventual product that is rolled out to your audience will face serious shortcomings that affect your bottom line. The mistake many site owners make is to employ just one type of designer to build their product, and so they fail to benefit from an all-rounded and well-balanced team.
At Krome, we specialise in website design services as well as user interface websites. If you or your client are interested in creating a site, it’s time to tell us about your project or have a chat about what we can do. You can contact us here.