The Foundations Of Web Design

Web Design – Putting Functionality First

The purpose of design is not just to make websites look nice; but to make websites that look good so users
want to use them.

Internet use grew world-wide by more than 1,000% between 2000 and 2018, a global growth rate of more than 15 per cent year-on-year. While usage in Europe and North America grew more than five times during this period, in Asia the growth rate was three times as fast and in Africa more than nine times.

Websites and online digital platforms remain the largest proportion of this traffic.

In fact, if you are a senior leader in almost any industry, in just about any country on Earth, the chances are you are regularly involved in the specification, commissioning or operation of websites.

And if you operate at a strategic level, you have probably been hired for your industry-specific, professional or functional skills – so it is also pretty unlikely that you are a specialist in this area.

So what do you need to know?

The good news is that the key principles are no different than for any other design, communication or marketing challenge.

Be clear about objectives

Questions to ask yourself:

Functionality first – before aesthetics, branding, user journey/user experience

Form follows function.  Should it be a standalone website, or section of a corporate site, IFRAME in a different URL, or even a smartphone App?

What do we mean by function?  We think these are the main functional forms, and they are detailed a little more in our handy guide.

Think hard about what and how to measure

Traditional statistics and performance indicators represent a significant investment and may not all be useful.  For example, time spent on site by the average visitor, a common e-commerce metric, may not be meaningful if your site provides information about services – where success and speed in getting an answer represents the best user experience.

Remember this is a pull medium

Just because you build it, does not mean they will come.

It is important to understand the underlying digital business model and how purchase decisions are made online.

At the heart of this is a calculation about where and how you can find traffic in sufficient volumes and provide channels to bring the right kind of users to your site.

Guide to website functions and formats

FunctionTypical applicationsMost suitable formatsKey characteristics
Transactional E-commerceWebsite, IFrame set Security
Enquiries and complaintsEase of use
Comparison sites
CommercialCorporate websitesWebsite, MicrositeTraffic
Landing pages for digital campaignsEasy to find
InformationSubject-specific microsites / brochurewareMicrosite, AppConnections / links
Service finderSources
Interactive / communicationForums and discussion groupsWebsite, App, proprietary platformInteractive functionality
Internal communication channelsFlexibility
Helpdesk / customer services

Need help creating a new website? Drop us a line and get chatting with one of our expert UK web designers.

Get in touch

hello@vervecommunications.co.uk

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