No matter what you design — from blue jeans to loveseats to SUVs — you have to strike a balance between form and function. Thanks to the patient counsel of my interactive colleagues over the years, I’ve learned that I can’t approach web design the same way I approach print and other media. The scales tip toward functionality, which is determined by the target audience and its needs.
User experience is the number-one priority. Of course a successful website should look good, but, more important, it has to answer the needs of the audience and bring value to the user. Complicated navigation and over-designed pages only distract and confuse the audience, driving them away from the site.
When it comes to web design, balancing form and function is critical. Your design has to be engaging, interesting and compelling, but you can’t overwhelm the user with superfluous bells and whistles. Know your audience; know their needs. Let that knowledge guide you.