In my experience with the clients we have worked with and those we are prospecting, it seems most of them just wanted a website that their customer or audience can relate with from their brand perspective. Whether the site is beautiful or usable is not really the subject they want to discuss except a few. Web presence was the order of the day.

One might be quick to conclude that they are naive about what a website should look like or be. Yes, that submission may be correct, but alas! From professional stand point, what they requested for (a website customer/audience can relate with, i.e user friendly or usable; and then from their business or brand perspective i.e design structures & color combination- which is simply aesthetics) has already embedded in it the task to develop a business website that is functional.

What makes a site functional?

A functional website is simply a usable site. When targeted audience are able to find what they look for without stress or draw-backs or endless navigation or links pointing to wrong destinations or dead links that landed on yet to be optimized 404 error pages, then we can say the site is usable.

Though there are more factors that can hamper site functionality than the ones mentioned above like web page load time, image alt attribution necessary for disabled audience, bounce rate, typography and so on.

Is it possible for a site to be functional and beautiful at the same time?

Well, I’ll answer YES in the affirmation. Because, gone are the days of earlier internet where what is important to audience is the information they need and that’s all is required to have a functional website. Times have transcended to a period where you have less than 3 seconds to appeal to your website visitor in order for them to stick around.

The only way to achieve this is when your site is not only functional but attractive. The attraction created must be strong enough to bring about a positive experience that lingers.

This does not mean the use of flash and blink-blink JavaScript’s of oldies that doesn’t add any value to audience. Rather the ‘look & feel’ of the site should be pleasantly inviting; blending that with content that educate, empathize, enrich and empower would definitely propel the audience to take the desired action. This is the whole essence of building a website.

But, can a beautiful site be functional or usable?

Beauty they say lies in the eyes of the beholder. What lies behind the beauty is much more important at the long run even though there are array of chemistry formulation that brought about the beauty.

Permit me to give an analogy for proper understanding. A beautiful lady with so much elegance, but lack good manner, decorum and virtue could still be said to be beautiful. Certainly, this person would lack permanent friendship. As soon as you notice her poor mannerism, you’ll quickly dissociate. That is the exact way an average audience will react to a beautiful website that is neither functional nor usable.

Can we then say that what is beautiful may not necessarily be usable?

That is true going by the analogy above. Lets watch this video piece by Javier Bargas for improved interactive understanding.

However, it is very possible to build a beautiful website that is usable and functional. That is what I like to call good website- a site that leverage aesthetics without compromising functionality and usability.

It is therefore imperative to consider both beauty and usability whenever you want to design your website. Your website look ‘n’ feel is as important as it should be usable in the process of converting audience to customer. Can this be said to be true? Share your thought.

Image credit: ignant

Francis 'Toke
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