Web Design Should include Functionality

May 30, 2011
DotcomWeavers

There’s no doubt that website aesthetics are important. Gone are the days of using standard templates to create websites for just about any product or service. In recent years, technology has evolved way beyond the standard – a multitude of options are now available for those creating their own online ‘home’. People are no longer impressed by basic designs, competition is fierce in the online world, and users are instinctively drawn to the sites that are deemed to be more attractive in appearance.

However, a website that is just great in appearance may not suffice. It’s of little use having an attractive design in place, if the site navigation is poor. The majority of websites are there to serve a purpose – to sell products and/or services. The aim is to get your users to follow a series of simple links in order to achieve a sale. Aesthetics can certainly help along the way, but to really succeed, you will need a combination of great design + exceptional functionality.

Flash videos and pop-ups can certainly add interest to a website – but they can also distract the user away from the main goal of the site. It’s a common mistake to use videos and other web elements that don’t directly relate to the product or service that you are selling. They may look great – but are they serving a purpose? Videos explaining product features can be very useful as a selling technique, but ‘fluff’ can be very unproductive, and can ultimately lose you sales. After all, what’s the point of having a great video on the home page, if the link to the shopping cart is functioning at less than optimal speed? The goal is simple – get your visitors to stay on your site for longer.

It is often said that the elements contained in a website can be defined as either ‘long-term’ or ‘short-term’ aspects. Short-term aspects include the basic design, appearance and layout of the site. These features may attract visitors to your site initially, but are they sufficient to keep them there to the point of sale? That’s where the long-term aspects come in. Long-term aspects include the actual functionality of the site – the menu links, e-commerce processes, customer access areas, image and content management, advertising and affiliate links, to name just a few. Technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, so there’s really no excuse for having outdated processes on your website.

Of course, it’s not always an easy process – and it can take a process of trial and error to get it right – but with the correct technology in place, you can streamline your sites functionality and increase the ‘stay’ time of your visitors. The right functionality can also encourage repeat site visitors and referrals. So, it’s a great idea to take a look at your website from the perspective of a visitor from time-to-time. Check that every part of the site is functional and working at optimal speed – if not, fix it, it can make the difference between success and failure.

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