Form Over Function: What High-heels Teach Us About Web Design


On Saturday night I put on my sparkly high-heels to head out to dinner. The shoes were the perfect compliment of sparkle with my long purple skirt. They’ve got 2-inch heels, but knowing that we were just going to dinner, I thought they’d be fine.

Date night evolved, as date nights sometimes do. We went from dinner, to a walk, to spotting a great band and dancing. Very romantic, but by the end of the night my feet were not very happy with me. If I had known we were going to do so much, I would have chosen a different pair of shoes.

The more we know about our plans, the better choices we’ll be able to make. Perhaps you’ve been in my shoes. Knowing the plans for the evening can determine which pair of shoes wind up on your feet – and which ones stay in the closet. You may still want to wear the sexy heels, but chances are you’ll choose the still cool looking wedge or platform for comfort.

Picking The Right Pumps

Now, I may not be quite as bad as Carrie Bradshaw, but I do love my shoes. But when it comes to deciding what shoe to wear for work or play I make decisions based on fashion and function. How long will I be wearing my shoes? What happens if it rains? Can I handle them if I can’t get a cab and have to walk? Do these shoes compliment the outfit?

Creating The Right Website

The consideration process we go through when choosing our shoes is very similar to the experience business owners have when choosing elements of their website. During the web design process you need to think through a few key factors:

  • What do you want your website to do for your business?
  • What experience do you want your visitor to have on your website? What does it say to your clients and prospects?
  • How scalable will the website be?
  • Can my team edit key areas of the site?
  • Does my site support a user experience that interests clients and generates leads?

The look of the website is very important, but the functionality is also important. Sexy shoes that make your feet hurt aren’t always the best option. In the same way, a great looking website that doesn’t work well for you or your customers isn’t the best choice.

Before you start to create your design or layout your website content you want to stop and ask yourself these questions. As you go through the process you need to go back to these questions. Do not get swayed by the sparkles! Focus on the function.

Aesthetics Start; Function Finishes

When you’re building a website, the design matters. People are intensely visual. A good looking website is the attraction factor; it is what draws people into your business.

Functionality also matters! As you make decisions about the look of your website you need to keep a critical eye on the final goals and functions. Remember today’s web visitor is overwhelmed with messages and experiences online. Do not make it difficult for them to figure out where to click or how to navigate. Steve Krug said it best with the title of his book Don’t Make Me Think. Sometimes you need to sacrifice what looks nice for what works well. Best practices often force us to make more practical design decisions to help the user notice things quickly and easily without thinking.

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