In the same manner that you make judgments based upon someone’s appearance when you first meet them, your website visitors are also developing first impressions of your website design alone. Unless your website takes an inordinate amount of time to load in their browser, design typically trumps functionality for the user’s experience. However, the same is not true from a marketing perspective. Functionality then trumps website design as the end goal of all business on the Internet is to close that deal. Sales are impacted at different stages via either design or website functionality.
Why Design Matters Most for Customers
To gain traffic, businesses need to focus on the design of their website. You want to create a favorable first impression so that those visitors return again and again. Some of the biggest design factors that impact traffic are:
Responsive Web Design – Since April 2015, Google began to boost the rankings for mobile-friendly pages on all sites. That also effectively means that those that aren’t mobile-friendly are downgraded in comparison. Responsive web design is a layout that makes it easy for people on mobile devices to scroll through and search your site on smaller screens. Simple layouts, flat design and color choices, and easy-to-read fonts are characteristic of these types of designs. If a customer with a mobile device visits a site that is not mobile-friendly, it can be burdensome to try to navigate the site and search it easily.
Look and Feel – Layouts that are too complex, garish use of colors, intrusive popups, print too tiny to read, and more will turn off a first time visitor. Even before a customer reads a single line on the website they are making judgments based on the look and feel of the site. If they don’t feel comfortable with the layout, they are less likely to trust the brand. The look and feel should be designed with the ideal customer demographic in mind. Elderly users need larger print. Younger users prefer less corporate styles. Find out what your ideal shopper wants and then deliver that design.
Why Functionality Matters Most for Businesses
Once you know how to attract traffic, the next goal for businesses is to convert it into paying customers. This requires a website with high functionality, particularly if it is an e-commerce site. Functionality isn’t just about the mechanics of the site, although that’s a large part of it. It’s also about how the content management strategy meshes with search engines to attract the target demographic. It can break down as follows:
Site Functionality – Are there broken links keeping people from going to your offers? Is the shopping cart easy to add and delete items? How many payment options are available? Do the pages take too long to load? These are all important factors when trying to keep people on the site long enough to complete an order.
Content Managment System (CMS) Functionality – Does your company have a regular publishing schedule? Fresh content is important to give your site a dynamic presence. It also must be content that is optimized for search engines via Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Without these techniques, your website may not function as well to drive the right traffic to the right offers, reducing the potential for closing a sale.
Both Design and Functionality Impact Sales in Different Manners
Thus, while it is crucial to put out that good image to attract new visitors, it’s also important to pay attention to functionality if you want to make that shopping experience smooth and seamless. Companies, like Apples, know that it takes more than a beautiful image to attract attention. It also takes expert functionality to make sure your customers are delighted even after the sale. Their flat, sleek, menu designs with no shadows or extra visual elements to distract the user, make it easy for their customers to navigate and search Apple devices. Such minimal design also gives the company it’s futuristic image.