In her book Websites as Artefacts: A New Model for Website Analysis, Ida Engholm (ph.d. in Digital Design) describes how the correlation of technology, functionality and aesthetics affect the overall perception of websites. In this context, they are treated as a tool you can use while developing your website. In this blog post we will tell you how a focus on the correlation between the three will give you a great foundation for creating a satisfactory customer experience.
But first, let’s start out with a brief introduction to the three terms.
‘Technology’ describes what is doable technologically in terms of capacity of the website, software, browsing technology, and so on. The term is related to innovations and ways of making the technological structures on the website more effective.
‘Functionality’ deals with the ways in which the customer can interact with your website. That is both in linguistic, visual and auditory terms. It is important to notice that functionality will always be perceived as a whole by the customer, which allows for different sorts of interaction. Examples of interaction would be to click a link, navigate through different tabs, write a comment, etc.
Addressing senses is important for the overall perception of your website. Research shows that if a website is aesthetical, customers will pay less attention to minor flaws in functionality. Therefore, an aesthetically satisfying website could be a way for you to make an impression and make sure that your customer remembers your website and brand. ‘Aesthetics’ help your customer decode what type of website they are visiting, even before they read any information. It’s a powerful tool for indicating what type of business you are.
Aesthetics have another function than to impress and indicate - it binds your website together, and gives the customer a sense of locality. Through colors, shapes and positioning you can indicate how “deep into” a website the customer is, and how to navigate. This transparency is important for ensuring a smooth flow on your website.
Correlation will show your business at its best
Ida Engholm states very clearly that weaknesses in either technology, functionality or aesthetics will affect the other – and in the end give a less satisfying customer experience.
You cannot neglect the importance of the combined three aspects in customer perceptions. Technology is important for functionality and the aesthetical appearance of your website, because it serves as a sort of “scaffolding” for both. Functionality is important for the experienced flow on the website. If your customer is not able to find or use a specific function, it will interrupt the flow and lead to frustration. Good aesthetics will avert attention from the minor functional flaws and technological challenges of your solution.
As you can see, the three function as a joined unit. This is also why correlation between them is a good starting point for further development of your website. By having all three aspects in mind, you remind yourself of the importance of customer experiences.
Remember: Good intentions are not necessarily visible to the customer in the finished solution. We have not yet experienced that it does not pay off to uncover customer behavior through think-aloud tests and other behavioral research. This optimizes the effectiveness of your website and the correlation between technology, functionality and aesthetics.
Curious what customer involvement and think-aloud tests can do for your business? We’re giving away free discovery processes for selected businesses until December 31st 2016.