Flash – Video – One of a kind splash the images up there – multi-million dollar designed sites – Yes they may be nice to look at. They may have their place to showcase new products or technology, and they are here to stay. But should every business who wants a website listen to all the hype, spend the money, and put up that kind of site. Sure make them look nice, but that is not the main thing.
I believe that as the internet goes more mainstream, the main concerns of a company website are functionality, speed of loading, user friendliness, and content. I know many web designers take great pride in ‘original’ content, and I do believe there is a place for that. But I think for most business, the website is not the first point of contact (at least not the non-tech companies). Companies should do an evaluation of what they are trying to accomplish with their website. From there they decide on a budget using cost/benefit analysis, and then decide on what and how the website should look. A straight forward website at a reasonable cost with low maintenance is what is needed.
Real world examples of this philosophy abound. Take a look inside of Rogers video, Sam the Record man, Shoppers Drug Mart, even Wal-Mart and Home Depot (I named well known stores so you would know what they looked like, but even your local private hardware store is this way), – they all have functional stores. Walk up and down the aisles, are they laid out in an orderly way? When you walk in the door, do 20 people jump out and put on a Broadway show (Flash intros I feel are like this). Retail stores are laid out to allow you to shop in the most efficient way possible. And office buildings are set up to enable personnel to get their work done. They have as their core idea – functionality.
Yes they do try to make the stores look appealing, they add a few extras here and there to keep the appearance fresh. Occasionally they redesign the layout and the themes to keep them modern. But they are designed for function not flair, purpose not passion. And business and corporate websites should be the same.
In contrast – some restaurants, specialty shops, gift shops, are made to look original, and fancy. They do have entertainment, flashy signs, etc to intrigue you in and get you to stay awhile. For a website where the purpose is marketing and advertising for a unique company or product that has to show itself off, then make it original and fancy. But these types of stores are not the norm – rather the exception.
I believe that this will be the new trend on the internet, especially as cost for designing go up, and more companies want to have a website for functional reasons like service and product info, employee communication, etc. Websites are moving away from being the end all and be all of a company, and starting to become what they should have been all along- a tool to be used to create efficiency in a business. Websites can be used for marketing, internal and external communication, selling products or any other use (some uses, I am sure are not even discovered yet). But above all they must be functional.