Function over Flashy

The Importance of Usability in Site Development

Close your eyes and imagine: you’ve come to a Web site. There is a long flash introduction. Then, you click on the main site. There, music loops incessantly, becoming that annoying song on repeat in your head that you aren’t quite sure where it came from.

OK. Now, open your eyes.

What do you think?

Sometimes, sites go on what we like to call censory-overload, where flash is king and the actual user experience isn’t considered. While there is a lot of debate in the web design world about whether or not functionality rules over appearance, we’re laying our cards out now. The truth is, they go hand-in-hand … but functionality over flash is the way to play the game.

How Appearance affects Functionality

Looks matter in the business world. At least the look of a Web site. But, the appearance is relative to the functionality of said sites. Why? Before a customer even begins to interact with a site, the first thing that person will see is how it looks. It’s important to have a website that is attractive, however using flashy images and blinking text can be counterproductive.

Using animations, scrolling text, or auto-loading sound can be highly distracting to a visitor. And annoying. You want your message to take center stage because it’s important, and a visitor can’t focus on reading your content if things are blinking, flashing and making noise. It is distracting and not the way to play the Web development game. Even worse, sites with all those fancy bells and whistles can make it seem unprofessional, and can give the impression that the user is actually supposed to be distracted from your message. Though it may seem tempting to add these elements, remember during site development that it can actually make your website unusable.

Don’t believe us? Studies have shown that users tend to leave a site without clicking on anything if they encounter a blinking or animated ad on a website. Not only that, but they are less likely to return, recommend, or link to the site, which can hurt your traffic.

Scrolling text affects the user’s experience with your site primarily because they are forced to read at pace determined by you. While they could have read that sentence and be moving on to other, more engaging actions, like sharing, commenting, or making a purchase, but instead you’ve stopped them with a single sentence.

Also, many of these elements can cause a site to load slowly, which is a direct functionality issue. Users will be frustrated that they waited for nothing more than a flashy show of your skill, instead of getting to the meat of your content.

How Functionality Affects Success

Developing a simple, functional website that keeps your visitors interest in mind directly affects the success of your site. When a site is easy to navigate, loads quickly, and has properly functioning links, users are more likely to return and share its content with others. The end result? More traffic to your site, and who doesn’t want that? Even more, a fully-functioning Web site has a greater chance of being recognized by search engines, which can make your site rank higher in the results. While having a site that looks good can contribute to getting visitors’ attention and helping them engage, a functional website is much more important for success.