Websites are the real showcases of a business' marketing strategy today. Brilliant and beautiful design techniques can come into play, telling a company’s story with innovative tactics and engaging visuals. And while a site may be visually stunning, it’s important to remember that it’s not only a show pony for a business; it’s also a workhorse.
Form vs. function: aesthetics and usability
The old debate about form vs. function has never been more relevant than it is in the discussion of websites. Aesthetics and beauty— of a site or otherwise—are linked with their usability. Users and prospects typically perceive that which is visually pleasing as more usable and functional than less aesthetically pleasing ones.
Aesthetics can create different moods or feelings in viewers, so they tend to engage more. This is great for web stats. When users have a positive experience, they’re more inclined to return. While that’s great when it comes to form, what happens to function?
It’s not all that beautiful unless it works.
A beautiful website can be a joy to get involved with, but a business needs it to work so they can make money. Visitors can enjoy an artistic experience, but there comes a time when they’ll want information about the business and its solutions. If those aren’t readily apparent, chances are many visitors will abandon and go in search of content that will help them solve their own business' pain points.
Graphic designers may have to consent to elements that they feel diminish their work. If a feature helps conversions, then aesthetics may have to take a back seat. For example, a “buy now” button above the fold on a webpage may be considered visually unappealing. But if it leads to an increase in sales, it will have to stay.
Don’t Forget SEO in the Discussion
The importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) never goes away regardless of the visual beauty of a website. If the site isn’t found by prospective buyers, it won’t really matter what it looks like.
Creating with SEO in mind should be part of a designer’s goal as it will help ensure appropriate crawling by website spiders and bots. Website layout and design elements determine how smoothly spiders can crawl a site which then determines how well the page will be ranked by search engines.
Good crawling means quicker web page indexing and higher search engine ranking. The anticipated outcome is higher visibility because search engines will pick up the site ahead of any others when searches are conducted.
The Bottom Line: Beauty and Brains
Aesthetics and information are equally important components of good user experience and must work compatibly. It’s only when all facets of a website—aesthetics, strategy, business needs and usability—are appropriately accommodated can a company create the ultimate user experience.
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