Web Design: Form Or Function?

It’s an understandable question to those across the design world. Even more particularly to those in the web design and marketing spheres. The truth of the matter is, BOTH are essential. I would say that Form and Function aren’t just on equal footing, but they DEPEND on one another for the ultimate purpose of any kind of design — to be used!!

Design In Practice

This is how it works from an advertiser or user experience perspective:

  1. An online display advertisement for jeans catches your eye for its great visual and captivating text — “Levi Jeans/Buy Now/40% off!”
  2. You decide to click through the ad and navigate to the landing page.
  3. The Levi’s landing page brings you to a filtered results page with all the products that apply to the advertised discount. Large text at the top, accompanied with a similar enlarged image of what you originally saw in the display ad tell you that you’re in the right place!
  4. Now that you’re selecting the desired products, you see some smaller text and images at the bottom for what “customers also bought”.
  5. The landing page allows you to further filter the applied products and navigating to the cart and checkout are a breeze.
  6. As a result, you buy some jeans!

If all of this can happen smoothly for a user in an instant (give or take the time it requires them to shop for jeans) and result in a conversion for the advertiser, we’re looking at a successful design! Every cog in the machine from the display ad to the checkout process uses an incredibly important blend of form and function. Many strategies of both are highlighted in Oli Gardener’s Stukent Expert Session, “Principles of Good Web Design”.

The Interdependence of Both

Functionality is required for the link to successfully bring you to the right landing page, filter out more specifics of what you are looking for, and be able to retain your payment information to check out so you receive your product! But without form in the mix, the user (you) will not be able to make sense of the relevance between the display ad and the landing page. Maybe the text size in an unintelligible hierarchy of scale offers no clarity in telling you what you’re clicking on and where you’re headed to or what navigates you to check out your product! Even prior to the checkout, the user who’s new to Levi’s site needs to do some “cognitive overhead” in figuring out how the landing page and the website at large works.

In Review

In conclusion, a good design function is required for successful conversion and ease of use, but a good design form is required for enhanced user experience and the ability for the user to even learn how the site functionality works. Good design can’t be possible if both are not present and used to capacity. If you’re in the design world, don’t neglect either!

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