Form and Function – which one comes first?

Posted on Feb 7, 2011


“Form follows function” is a widely accepted principle that most designers in a variety of disciplines have adopted. On the web, function is commonly refers to as usability. Usability is all about making your website easy to use for the user.

However, there are many websites that sacrifice function for form, resulting in a very beautiful un-functional website.

Issue #1: Clutter

Designing with too much clutter can make an audience unsure of how to use your website – where do I click? What do I do? Where do I click? In most cases, users will leave the website out of frustration.

Culprits:

  • Creative with aK – we’re just not sure what’s clickable
  • There Studio – again, after clicking around, we found out that half of the elements that look clickable aren’t really.

Also, keep in mind that white space improves comprehension – it de-clutters a page by giving items room to breathe and making content more readable.

Issue #2: Loading

Web customers don’t like to wait. Make sure your website has a fast, clear load that tells them how long it will take and when it is finished – or they’ll simply hit the Back button or jump onto Google to look for the next cool website.

Culprits:

  • Coke Light –  a long intro with no skip button
  • Design Sul – multiple load times for different elements

Issue #3: Navigation

Don’t make users guess or poke around to find an answer. Make clear what and where your navigation is, and what each element of your navigation does. Also, make menus self-explanatory.

Culprits:

  • Prism Girl – very beautiful website, but unfortunately we have no idea where we’re supposed to click
  • Theologos – we can’t find the button to skip the intro nor where we’re supposed to click after that

Always remember, links are designed to be clicked, so make them usable and make sure they are easy to click.

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