Picture your new company website that a designer spent countless billable hours designing and tweaking before delivering it to you. Three months later, you check the quarterly performance trends: zero leads from the new landing pages and minimal growth in overall website traffic since the re-launch.
Suddenly, that shiny new website does not seem so shiny anymore.
What likely happened is the designer did not consider the importance of the new website being functional for website users. Perhaps the designer even – gasp! – fell into the trap of “form before function” while designing the website.
When it comes to putting together a web design, function should take precedence over form. That doesn’t mean you should pay for and expect an ugly, stripped-down website straight out of 1999, though.
Websites designed for function over form can be just as beautiful as any other website, with the added benefit of the website actually achieving your objectives to enhance the user experience and create new business activity.
Have You Seen These 10 Form Over Function Mistakes?
There is a disturbingly common trend when it comes to website designs. Companies will pay a designer to redesign their website in hopes of elevating the brand and selling more services, but the company just ends up with a shiny new toy that satisfied the designer’s ego.
If you fall into the category of pushing around an expensive digital paperweight, the designer probably made one (or more) of these common form over function mistakes.
- Overcomplicated user interface. Just because a designer can pack slick designs, fonts, and images on the home page, subpages, and landing pages does not mean they should. If the new website is not converting customers, then the slick features were more of a distraction than useful.
- Unclear paths of engagement. The designer spent hours on the website design, so they know it inside and out, like the path out of a giant maze. But, a user coming to the website for the first time has no frame of reference. If the designer is asking users to enter a maze to find what they are looking for, the user will exit. That means no conversion. Ask yourself: is the website path simple and user-friendly?
- Overemphasis on “look” rather than “goal.” Sometimes designers get caught up in a great idea or design concept that strays away from the purpose of the redesign. Check your new website against the goal: did the designer stray too far away?
- Diluted and unfocused branding. The colors used in your logo or primary branding may not have been the designer’s favorite choices. Did the designer try to add another prominent color that dilutes your branding and confuses customers? Any hint of confusion means hesitation, and hesitation typically means no conversion.
- Falling short of your goals and expectations. When you outlined the purpose of the site redesign, did the designer absorb that information and let it guide the project? Sometimes a designer’s desire to create a beautiful website will get in the way of sticking to the purpose. Which leads to the next point…
- Your website is not just a nice portfolio piece. The designer might be thinking how great your website project is for their portfolio, improving their chances to reach more clients. That might lead to a designer putting form over function, creating a disservice for your website.
- Slow loading sites. Google will not reward a slow-loading website in search results. If your website requires complicated scripts for fields, widgets, and other custom elements, make sure the designer made them run as efficiently possible. You want the website to be fast-loading and user-friendly.
- Non-optimized SEO. A beautiful website design is not functional if Google users cannot find your website when they search for your keywords. Make sure your site is optimized for SEO, which might mean stripping down website pieces that the designer really wanted to include on the site. If it does not align with the redesign goal and does not help with SEO, then it needs to go.
- Only takes one platform into consideration. Your customers are not tied down to their desktop computer to access your site. In fact, mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic on the Internet. Designers who place too much emphasis on the desktop design and do not consider the importance of mobile functionality are putting form over function. If the mobile version of your website is not functional, you could be losing potential customers.
- Difficult access to information. Finally, one of the primary reasons why you are not seeing results on your new website is a lack of engagement from your audience. If the website design is too complicated, the user likely left the site after failing to find what they needed. The user could be looking for a form to fill out, an eBook to download, a product to purchase, or an email list to sign up for. The designer needed to make it easy for users to achieve what they came to the website to accomplish!
How Does Function Over Form Differ?
When a designer unfortunately chooses form over function, this is typically the result of not taking the time to understand what the purpose or function of the website should be and then working backwards.
Conversely, function over form places places greater importance on functional web design. It uses the determined functions of the website to drive the design of the site. This mindset is key to successfully creating functioning and beautiful sites.
This practice also simplifies the approach to website design and can prevent issues down the line, such as needing the designer to make wholesale changes that require more time and money.
How to Solve the Website Design Problem
Going into a project, business owners and designers both need to be on the same page about the desired functionality of the redesigned website. Here are three things that both parties need to keep in mind to avoid the issues that form over function design usually cause:
- Establish a clear purpose for how customers should interact with the site. The purpose of the website must drive the design. Business owners, if you are unsure where to start, consult with your marketing team to decide the most functionable approach to reach, engage, and convert customers.
- Remember that less is more. How much effort will be required of users on the new website? If a customer has to jump through three hoops to register for a product demo, you will lose that person on the first or second hoop. During the design phase, you need to work with the designer to reduce and simplify, increasing the likelihood that the customer will take action.
- Align with the desired message to the market. The website design should reinforce the messaging of your company brand, create a great user experience, and reflect your company’s commitment to quality. This should drive the purpose behind the new website.
Ultimately, function over form creates a process that is always driving the message forward, both through content and visuals.
How Marketing Refresh Can Support Your Business
At Marketing Refresh, we are strong believers in function over form design. When we work with clients, we focus on creating the most functional user experience for your website:
- Designs are functional and beautiful to match your branding
- Valuable content is easy to access and read
- Contact forms are simplified for customers to complete
- Landing pages are optimized to increase engagement
- Email lists are filled through an easy subscription process
- Sales are made through an online retail system
- Mobile website version is optimized for function
Our goal is to help business owners reach your sales goals and grow your business. We take the time to understand your industry, business, and purpose. Then, we can help achieve your goals with a functional, industry-leading website design that customers can use and that you can be proud of.
Let’s get started discussing your website needs. Contact us today to take back your website!