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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    I wanted to a moment to write about form vs. function or design vs. content to a) start a conversation that I can gain others insight into and b) to vent my own pet peeves.

    Time and time again, I see posts under Web Site Review that start out something like <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote/font><HR>I think I did a great job with my site but there isn't much content yet..<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    From my point of view this is having the cart in front of the horse. Contnet should be first - form follows function.

    There are many government and other resource sites that look like you are viewing them through Notepad, but these can be invaluable and most of their visitors are repeat customers. This usually isn't the case when design is the top priority.

    I don't think that I have ever revisited a site just to look at the pretty colors or the well made tables.

    For example, this bulletin board could be a lot prettyer with Flash intros and whatnot. Instead, there has been a lot of development time in the Perl code that makes this site function. And that is why I keep coming back

    What do you think?

    IMHO,
    Westmich

    [This message has been edited by westmich (edited April 20, 2000).]

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    No comments?

  3. #3
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Comments are coming. I just want to formulate my answer before I post it. Since I am not at home and on a mini-vacation it will have to wait until I get home.

    ------------------
    Wayne Luke
    WR Moderator
    ICQ 29015947

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Westmich,

    Great topic. I often ask myself this question.

    Sometimes when I set out to design a site I get caught up in the layout of the site and neglect the content.
    Part of this due to the fact that I am more of an Intranet designer then Internet designer. I have my site for
    my fantasy league, and I do a few realtor sites every now and then. But for the most part I work behind a
    firewall.

    So, often I am not doing any of the content of the sites I am creating. But this also pertains to design
    contractors working in private industry. As the designer you need to be aware of the content and insure
    your layout does not take away from the content.

    I like to use bells and whistles as much as the next guy, but if my customer does not like, want or need
    them, I have not done my job. On the other hand I am working on a new layout for my site. I update it after
    the end of every season. I use the same content plus a few new things and roll it into a new layout. A few
    years ago the folks in my league got very frustrated with me because I could not make up my mind on the
    layout, I changed it just about every month. Then I was reminded by a coworker that if its working why
    change it. Again last year I got caught up in the layout and ended up with something a bit more then I
    needed.

    So my point is, getting caught up in the function seems to be a natural tendency in web designing. Its like
    our automobiles. How often do we change or add cosmetics to our cars when we could be putting that same
    money in to the mechanics, thus making our car more reliable and usable. Maybe that’s not the perfect
    analogy but I think you get the idea.

    We live in a world of glitz and glamour, and I think that mentality spills over to web design.

    Just my 2 cents worth…

    Michael


    ------------------
    World National Fantasy Basketball Association
    www.wnfba.com

  5. #5
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Form vs. Function.

    In the old days of computers we had DOS and things were ok but nothing worked the same from application to application. Each program had its own way of talking to to your devices. This caused a great many headaches. Nothing looked the same, nothing worked the same and this caused a lot of headaches, especially among tech support.

    Along came Windows, things got better. Now all the applications could talk to the same devices because the OS translated for you. A "standard" form was developed with menus, icons and the layout of the program. Everyone soon learned that you could manipulate files on the File menu, edit your current document on the Edit menu and so forth. These metaphors even work across platforms i.e. Macintosh (which actually came before Windows but that is unimportant for this discussion) and Linux. There was unity and less headaches for tech support.

    A few years ago (8 to be exact) the World Wide Web was born. At first there was no confusion. It was used by professors, students, and researchers. Design didn't come into the equation. It was the content that mattered, not how it looked. In 1995 the Web went commercial (like your apartment building going condo but more painful). This brought all sorts of new headaches (poor tech support). No longer did people care about content. They wanted it to look good. Brochures and pictures of Fluffy popped up on the net every where. We had rainbow background with light cyan text. Things were really bad. People finally realized that there had to be a happy medium between form and function, content and design. If design was bad you don't have to worry about content because no will care to read it.

    For your content and design to be functional it has to have form. You can not design a page with a fuzzy pink duck icon representing a link back to the homepage or index and expect your visitor to know immediately that from now on fuzzy pink ducks mean home. Most webpages designed today are developed around a central content block. Your content always shows in the same place. Surrounding that you have your icons, rollover buttons, copyright disclaimer. There are some accepted practices in today's world. Menus on left, navigation on top and copyright on bottom. Good design can get around these accepted practices and still function. There is a fine line between design and content or form and function. A successful website needs all four to succeed.

    I am not an expert on usability on the internet or in computers. I will admit that I have designed some pretty crappy interfaces before. The only thing we can do is learn from the experts and try to incorporate their knowledge and ideas into our own work.

    ------------------
    Wayne Luke
    WR Moderator
    ICQ 29015947

  6. #6
    Destiny Manager Plebius's Avatar
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    i'll keep this short and sweet.

    functional & popular but not much for the eyes: yahoo.com & slashdot.org

    english is a very functional language and is very popular for international communication. french sounds better (according to many) but isn't used as much.

    content &gt; design.


    ------------------
    Plebius Press - An independent media network


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