Web Design Wonderful: Pretty Is As Pretty Does!

Web Design Wonderful: Pretty Is As Pretty Does!

A.K.A. Balance Form & Function You Must …

Note: You HAVE TO channel Yoda and read that subtitle out loud!

It’s Wednesday! And that means it’s time for another round of my new weekly series, Web Design Wonderful. In the second installment of this series, I’m going to take a look at web design and development as a balanced approach between form and function, or pretty and performance.

Pretty Has A Place In Web Design

In the fast paced and ever growing and changing digital marketing space, we seek to measure everything. It’s a compulsion. ROI must be recorded, every click accounted for.

Where does pretty or appearance fit into ROI and measured performance? You might be surprised.

No, I can’t provide you with a case study or any carefully calculated numbers, but word of mouth research and response has shown that “well designed” sites keep visitors around.

You have only so much time to make a great first impression. Seconds really. What do people notice in those few first seconds? Color, I’d say. The overall aesthetic and layout, I’d also guess. It’s what I notice.

Functional elements are what they’ll see after the first impression tells them whether to bounce or settle in for a longer looky-loo.  And if those functional elements are lacking, they’re likely to leave. But first your site has to pass the “professional” first test.

Professional = Pretty?

Yes and no.

If, like me, you’re using pretty as a short and sweet term to describe the appearance and design aesthetic of a site, then, YES.

If pretty, instead, means pink and princessy, fluffy and flirtatious, not so much.

I’ve stated previously that what one designer considers “good design,” another might dislike and despair. Personal preference, and even personal experience, plays a large role in what our eyes behold has pretty or professional.

Yet, websites and web design are not new concepts and we’ve all seen plenty of iterations over the years. Our eyes readily rack-up what we consider outdated and old school.

Clashing colors, lack of white space, illegible type selections … all make an immediate impact, though a negative one.

Pretty & Performance Must Balance

Once your site passes the initial pretty/professional test is when performance and function must step up to the plate.

Can site visitors easily get to the good stuff or do they feel lost after a few clicks? Are they bombarded with a new and different pop-up every time they scroll or click? Are they offered opportunities to dig a little deeper into who you are and what you do?

Performance is about getting site visitors to take action, and by taking action getting them to:

  1. Subscribe/Sign-up
  2. Speak up (leave a comment or fill out a form)
  3. Part with their $$$

With those three actions in mind, it’s important to consider your CTAs (calls to action). Are they carefully crafted (words), well designed (eye-catching and memorable) and well developed (actually leading your visitor and prompting them to take action)?

And I haven’t even mentioned mobile, yet. Does your web design sell and succeed on the smaller screen?

Performance, Not Pretty, Drives Interaction

Your website is your digital storefront or office space. What a prospect would expect to do in person, face to face, your website should also allow and make easy and intuitive.

Functionality works with form to make this happen. That carefully selected font draws the eye and allows readers to skim when correctly set-up in your headers.

Buttons, arrows and other visual elements, while eye-catching, won’t convert if they don’t correctly deliver data or drive the next interaction.

The prettiest custom-designed social sharing buttons don’t help at all if they’re not properly formatted for the specific social media platform.

Pretty Alone Is Not Enough

Like the nettles in this article’s imagery, pretty without performance can be painful.

While the blue hue is lovely and the shape enticing, a quick touch is not so pleasant.  If your site leaves prospects and peers uncomfortable and in pain (because they can’t do what they expected to do), despite its lovely appearance, the balance is off and the site isn’t benefiting your business.

The pretty/performance ratio isn’t always going to settle at 50:50. You must carefully consider the intent and purpose of your site and the actions you would like visitors to take in order to create the balance that best suits your brand and business.