I know right now after reading the title of this article you may be asking yourself Function before Design? Mark you have to be crazy? The world is all visual and that has to be the most important part of any new website.
Now before you start emailing and telling me how you are right and how important the visual aspects of a business website are, remember I am all about you getting the most value you can from your website development and design efforts. If you have tons of money to waste and years of your life devoted to your new project then by all means I will agree you are right (design is most important) and that you should go find the most expensive designer possible to create your dream website and recreate it when the developers start trying to make the visual design work…Oh you may want to get two designers and some extra programmers incase the first ones quit when you keep making changes to the function during the design process.
For the rest of you that would love to get a website for a great price that also has good design here are the top reasons to think about functions first.
1. Functional requirements enhance the design process
When you are ready to start a new business online the typical path is to have an exciting thought about your new business and then look for a designer to create a website design, and then a logo, and last maybe product shots. These designs are then given to a programmer to make it work. Little thought goes into how you want the site to work.
If you take a few minutes to think about how you want the site to work, you can then give those requirements (wants) along with your visual design likes (colors, style) to the designer. This one act causes the design firm to generate design ideas that are visually and functionally targeted. Just so you know not all designers think function especially if they work with mainly advertisements.
2. Functional conversations require you to think about the customer
Customer? This is my design who cares about the customer? Well you will when you have a beautiful design that doesn’t function and your customers go somewhere else.
If you take reason 1 and then add your customer’s likes and the functions they require in your particular service area you will have a website above 95% of the rest on the internet. The idea is to merge your loves with your customers, and then give those requirements to the design firm.
3. Functional requirements reduce design and development delays
Did you know that design and development delays can double the price and time of a typical website design and development project? The delays typically go like this. You were stuck on a visual design first and had a website design created, and then that design was sent to development for the functional website to be created. Then after that you go to your new site and start working with it and that gets your brain into the functional space. Next thing you know you are having the design changed because the navigation makes, no sense. Next the sign-up for a free report cannot be seen and you change the design again and so on. In the meantime the developers get 1 and then 2 and then 3 revisions that cause more changes to the website development process. I have seen a 30 day website go from 30 days to 6 months or more just because they did not think about function first. Not to mention their budget went from 1000 to 10000 dollars.
4. Functional requirements save money
The idea is real simple, align your wants and desire, your customers’ wants and desires with the design and programmers wants and desires so everyone makes money or gets what they want faster and with less effort. When you come to a design firm knowing what you want it takes less time for them to figure it out which saves them money and most of the time you money. Same thing goes with programmers. I know programmers that charge double to some clients who do not think about the functions of their web sites. The number one reason they do this is because it takes so much more time to develop for them.
So now that you get the general idea about why function is so important; what are the typical functions to think about before going to a design or development firm.
- Does my site have Video
- A Blog
- Scrolling Photos
- Membership Section
- Contact Form
- Social Media Links
- Shopping Cart
- Downloadable Products
- Affiliate Program
- Advertising System
Mark Ferguson is a business strategist and the owner of WordPress Design Shop , a boutique firm specializing in strategic website development for small business owners. He brings his clients more than 20 years of experience in website development and e-commerce architecture working with some of America’s top brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Dress Barn, The Limited, Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, Garden Ridge, Pier One Imports, Pac Sun, Lane Bryant, Bring Back Desire and Diva Toolbox.