Form over function

The internet is full of beautiful websites and being somewhat artistically minded, I am partial to dedicating five minutes here and there to website admiration. However, websites that need to perform a function, must perform that function over being beautiful.

Recently, when organising a coffee catch-up with a friend, I thought I’d try out a new local café. Not being familiar with their opening hours, I expected to find this on their website (below).

Argos Loves Company cafe home page

What I found was a website pleasing to the eye, using a layout and page transitions I had not seen before. I was intrigued. I spent the next five minutes gliding from page to page and back, checking out their photo gallery and admiring their elegantly understated graphic design.

What I did not find was their opening hours. For a shop-front business website, information such as opening hours is critical.

Furthermore, in pursuit of aesthetic brilliance, the Argos Loves Company website also sacrificed some general usability:

As pretty as it is, the navigation implemented is not immediately intuitive
There are large areas of “clickable” space, which when clicked initiate no action

A large clickable area with no resulting transition

For a café website, there is an awful lot of information about things other than coffee and food
The menu is a pdf which annoyingly pops up in a different tab.

While business websites should convey a pleasing aesthetic, they should never sacrifice the business goals in favour of style. In the case of a café website, the primary goal is surely getting customers through the door. Not providing basic information such as opening hours hours can lead to loss of business – it certainly did in my case.

A business website is often the first touch point for potential customers. When designing it, it is critical to understand the visitors’ end goals and facilitate easy achievement of those goals.

Migrating my old blog to Medium — originally published 18 Oct 2013

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