Your Website is More than Just a Pretty Face

A contributor to Digital Good is our Anonymous Web Designer (AWD).  AWD specializes in creating user-centric websites and web products for health and social marketing campaigns.  

Let’s face it. When it comes to government-funded projects, budgets are usually not design-friendly. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved and the expected we-need-a-50-page-website-but-we-only-have-$75-in-the-budget-just-do-what-you-can line.

And so it begins.

When a project manager requests design work, they want the product to be good, done quickly, and cheap. The rule of thumb is you can only get 2 out of 3.

At this point, they resort to the well-the-site-has-to-be-up-in-5-days and can-you-just-work-fast? response. It seems like the most logical solution at the time, but as many designers know all too well, problems arise soon after.

The Top 5 Functionality Complaints of Rushed Government Websites:

  1. The website looks different in Internet Explorer.
  2. It’s not passing the 508 checker.
  3. I see some typos.
  4. Why isn’t Google finding it?
  5. It takes a while to load.

Lesson learned: function is just as (if not more) important than looks. Allow the developer time to build it properly to avoid these issues.

Websites, especially the more general audience ones, require that strong attention to detail. They need to be accessible across most browsers. Although this is fairly controversial among web designers/developers, it is important that your website, if nothing else, function the same across browsers.

It Can’t Just Look Pretty:

Awesome! Your website has this swanky Flash navigation, but it only works in browsers that have the updated player, is sort of slow to load, and is not 508 compliant. Next time, consider a more functional CSS-based drop down navigation system that offers as much and more function but without “swoosh.”

Think of function as the backbone for the body of your website. If something is built strong and durable, it will reinforce the conceptual surface. Combining visual and technical on the web in perfect harmony is the recipe for an excellent web presence.

The best part about the web is its aptitude for change, but it’s critical that function remain intact. These are the websites that you can drop and they won’t break.

Do you think functionality is sacrificed for appearance too often on health and social marketing websites?

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