Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

5 tips to maintain the balance between form vs function

Form vs function

Authors: Lia Purdie & Suzy Coulson

We’ve come a long way from the days of static and even flash powered websites. Dynamic functionality has become an integral part of web design as consumers jump between desktop and mobile devices.

But is this change in website design resulting in an efficient and positive experience for the consumer?

In research conducted by Global Reviews assessing the effectiveness of researching and purchasing goods and services online, it is quite often found that consumers are reaching the correct product pages, but not finding – or realising they found – the information once they get there. This is then leading them to continue fishing through the website in order to find what they’re looking for, thus undermining what could otherwise be positive online experience.

So with that we bring you:

5 tips to maintain the balance between form vs function


  1. Ensure the process and next steps are clear – guide users with verbal and non-verbal communication
    Functionality differing from standard navigation is fine, however it needs to be matched with strong communication to help consumers navigate this new style.
  2. Clearly communicate filtering options and tie back to customer needs and choices
    Dynamic filtering certainly has benefits, but it can only enhance the experience if it’s clearly communicated and understood. If consumers are filtering product options, clearly explain that options are not available due to the users’ selection – consider showing message on hover, dynamically moving to available products, or hiding unavailable options. Explain that you’re eliminating these options to better meet their needs.
  3. Ensure icons do not inhibit message communication
    Excessive use of obscure icons to communicate complicated messages can leave customers confused particularly when it comes to comparing product options. Icons are perfectly fine to use, just be sure additional details are evident and easy to find.
  4. Make access to more details and options to tailor highly visible
    Ensure advanced options and required actions are easily understood and highly visible. Be mindful that customers do want finer details but don’t want to be overwhelmed with information, so be sure to get the balance right.
  5. Balance additional functionality, designers aspirations and ease of use
    Don’t shy away from improved functionality and beautiful websites, but make sure that a good customer experience always trumps sexy and cool!

Embrace additional functionality and your designer’s aspirations, just be sure to balance that with ease of use to maintain the fine line between form and function.5 Tips to Maintain Balance Between Form vs Function


Click the thumbnail for a full size infographic highlighting the 5 tips to maintaining the balance between form vs. function.


For further details on these tip and how they apply to real life websites, view our Health Insurance Webinar recording.


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