Form Follows Function: Why Your Website Matters

Too often in marketing circles, experts default to industry buzzwords that can confuse clients and make it difficult for them to decipher what they need and what their money is doing. In today’s article, I want to address a fundamental element of business success (the Website) and relate it to first principles that may help to explain why your Website matters more than you think. You may be surprised by the answer.

The architect Louis Sullivan coined the maxim Form Follows Function; a rationally designed structure may not necessarily be beautiful but no building can be beautiful that does not have a rationally designed structure

Sullivan’s famous maxim is also credited to the Roman architect, engineer, and author Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, who first asserted in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities:  

  1. Firmitas  – it must be solid and well built
  2. Utilitas – it must have utility
  3. Venustas – and it must be pleasing to the eye and beautiful

Sullivan’s insight is extremely applicable to marketing; in fact, I believe the same 3 principles can be applied to ‘building’ a website. I am inspired by Sullivan’s words as I see poorly built websites on a daily basis that miss the target on one, two or even all three of the principles above. Even more upsetting is that some of these poorly built websites cost a fortune and are (dis)functional.

Think of how Sullivan’s words below relate to how your website represents your strategy and whether its forms follows its functional aims:

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling. It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.[5]

If Sullivan were alive today he may have added… “or the website capturing the essence of the business with elegance and practicality.”

Think of the beautiful functional buildings in your neighbourhood and what they do for you and then think of the outdated monstrosities that sully the landscape, that are impossible to navigate (think finding the entrance, the parking garage or the bathroom if it is not designed well). The design elements must arise from the necessary functions identified by the architect or designer and flow naturally to the end-user and their experience with the space.

No Strategy = Failure        (Dys)functional Website =  Bad Cashflow  

Billions of dollars are lost because companies have outdated, pretty websites that are neither functional nor compelling. Your website is the cornerstone of your digital strategy and it must be maintained and fine-tuned like a high-performance engine in order to beat the competition. If you ignore your website it will become a very expensive lawn ornament that everyone ignores as they pass by. The same thing happens on your website when potential clients leave before reaching out to you.  First impressions matter and the reality is you will never know how many potential customers drifted by without reaching out to you because of a poorly designed website.

There is a synergy to digital marketing and the website is the cornerstone of all your digital operations.  

You NEED an update if your wesbite:

  • Wasn’t designed for mobile 
  • Has lots of text
  • Was built 5+ years ago 
  • Has a dysfunctional or confusing menu
  • Has an overwhelming or cluttered design
  • Has dead links
  • Has typos & grammatical errors
  • Looks like it was last updated in the early 2000’s
  • It simply does not reflect your brand offering

57% of people say they WOULDN’T recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.

We’re living in the smartphone age, which means over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, which means your site needs to be designed and optimized for mobile.

You could have a beautiful desktop website design that simply does not translate to mobile, and just like that, you’ve lost over 50% of potential clients.

Whether you need to build a site from scratch or your site just needs a minor facelift, mobile optimization is a step that shouldn’t be missed.

Just because platforms like Instagram & Facebook work to build relationships & connections with potential clients doesn’t mean a website isn’t needed to grow.

Having a seamless brand experience from your social presence to your website to your in-person services will make a massive difference in your overall credibility as a business. 

Take it from us, a website revamp is essential, especially if your business has experienced growth since you initially created your website. If your website no longer reflects your work, you’re losing clients. It’s as simple as that.

How does your website design arise from a well-articulated digital strategy? It might be time to learn from the classical thinkers and return to the first principles. Contact us today to see what we can do for your business.