A painting has two responsibilities in life; hang on a wall and look pretty. It’s under no obligation to be functional or interactive. Trust me, the guards at the Louvre get real snooty when you try to interact with the Mona Lisa. French stereotypes aside, far too many people make the mistake of thinking of a website like a painting when, in reality, websites are more akin to cars.
Unlike a painting, a car must pass an eyeball test and an interactive test. Sure, lots of work goes into the shape, lines, and appearance of the car, but even more work goes into building an engine that runs smoothly, a suspension that can handle corners, and seats that are comfortable. The same under-the-hood care needs to be put into a website.
Just like a car that someone drives every day, a website will have someone click around and use it every day. You’ll never print a copy of your site, hang it on a wall, and say, “look at that header photo.” Websites aren’t meant to hang on walls, they’re meant to be taken for a drive.
With this in mind, sites have to be designed for functionality first and aesthetics second. This is what will separate a decent-looking DIY Squarespace site from a great site that can perform. In some ways, the difference between the two are subtle and won’t be seen at first glance, but in other ways the difference is painfully obvious when you know where to look. Mocking up a website that looks good as a static image isn’t anything to write home about, but creating a site that’s equal parts beauty and function is worth a sizeable investment.