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How to review website designs from a functionality point of view

Words by Piers TincknellFebruary 28, 2018

In this series I am going to look at how to ask better questions when presented with a website design that will help to critique the functional design of the project.

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to website design and everyone wants their voice to be heard when it comes to providing feedback. We love getting our clients involved at all stages of the website design process and we take a very collaborative approach. In our experience we have identified two types of feedback that you can give that is constructive to the design process.

  1. Aesthetic critique. Is it on brand? Does it align with your values? Does it feel right?
  2. Will this work from a functionality point of view?

Both of these pieces of feedback are very important and clients are normally more prepared to give the aesthetic feedback than the functionality. The problems then arise in the future when the client is using the website and realise that things aren’t quite working how they imagined.

The easiest way to explain this is through an example.

Example: Looking at varying title lengths in blog posts / articles.

An example of how your designer might present a blog over view page.

If this was presented to you as a prototype for your News page archive you might think 

Yes I like this, it’s very clean and easy to read and I love that it is so neat!

It does look neat but this design presents a few other things that you should think about. The questions that you should ask from a functionality / critique point of view are:

Questions?

  1. What happens if the title runs on to two lines?
  2. What happens if the summary text is longer than in the example?
  3. What happens if our images are portrait and not landscape?
  4. Which area is clickable?

These 4 questions are a great critique of the current design.

After you have asked these questions this is the design that you should then be presented with.

A better example of how a blog overview might look.

Asking these questions has helped to ensure that what is being designed for you is flexible and can function with lots of varying content. Digital design studios will already know this, but sometimes you might know something that the designer doesn’t and so it’s best to alway look at designs with a critical eye about how it will work as well as what it looks like.

We would love to hear your examples of areas like this that you have experienced

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Piers Tincknell

Piers is a co-founder of Atomic Smash and heads up the user experience design and project management in the studio. He is also the best contact for any new business enquiries.

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