Function First, Design Second

A flash opening screen, outstanding, in-depth graphics, and even a carousel of images fill the first page of your website. While it looks great and definitely makes your business seem professional, it slows down functionality of the site, the one thing customers are looking for the most when visiting a business’s website. Some websites simply lack any real use to the reader. Others pack so much on a single page it is hard to read. If you are focusing on your page’s design, rather than its function, you could be losing visitors every day.

Website Function

“Form ever follows function” – Louis Henri Sullivan

Key Mistakes to Avoid

As you work to customize your business website, think of yourself as the average customer visiting your site for the first time. What you see and do at this page makes a big impact on whether or not you, as the customer, sticks around to read, sign up, or pick up the phone and place an order. The following are some key mistakes to avoid right off the top of the bat.

  • Data-heavy graphics slow down the website’s opening. Some experts say websites have about 15 seconds to load or the web visitor moves on to another site that loads faster.
  • The first page should never be a sales page. If this is a website meant to showcase your business, do not make this page a sales-related page solely. Educate the visitor first.
  • Graphics and color schemes should be professional. This is not a fast-food restaurant or circus, but rather a company’s professional page.

Keeping these basics in mind, consider how you can design your website to be functional-oriented so it really gives the reader a reason to react to it.

Define the Purpose of the Site

To determine the user experience you want your website visitors to have, first define the actual purpose of the site.

  • Will you sell products on the site?
  • Is the goal to have customers calling your office?
  • Do you want to educate users about products and services you offer and then get them to sign up for a newsletter?

Once you define the actual action you wish the user to take, the web designer can better craft the site to look and function as it should to get visitors to perform that action. In short, why are you building this site and what do you want it to do for you?

Make Navigation Easy

Web readers are not interested in spending five minutes looking for a link to the information they need. The basic form of the website should provide easy navigation with simple, meaningful terms. You may wish to include a information request form on the front page, especially if this is the logical step the visitor should take in working with you.

Create the User Experience

The ultimate goal is to create a user experience balanced by function and design. The website does need to be attractive and appealing to the eye while balance photos and graphics that take too much time to load. The website also needs to lead the user to the right page, whether that is a sales page or a sign up link, or even a shopping cart full of products. Work closely with your designer to customize the site so that it focuses on function first and then design.