Creative vs Functional Design

Ivana author

Ivana Vnučec

Content Writer

⏱ Reading Time: 5 minutes

When it comes to web design, one thing is clear – if you want it to have the effect it should have, which is most frequentyl to turn visitors into buyers, it has to be the right mix of user-friendly and appealing. But how to determine which approach will function in your case?

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The differences between a funcitonal and creative desgin are huge, and there are various benefits of both. In this blog we’ll go through all of them.

Let’s take a look.

What is Creative Design? 

Creative design is computer generated imagery and digital animation created to visualize a potential product. The creative design includes designs that are unique, effective and memorable. It involves going out of your way to make it unique. It can involve a handmade custom font, drawing a logo or making different iconography to help your client stand out in their industry.

Adam Dannaway's website is a great example of creative design

Picture 1. Adam’s website is a great example of creative design

Advantages of Creative Design

Creative design is often discounted because it is not defined correctly. Companies think that creative designing is simply about hiring a graphic designer. Companies tend to treat creative design as synonymous with visual design.

Creative design is not only about visual design. Visual design is an important element in creative design but is only one element. The creative design also depends on the effective use of words and representing action and motion.

Creative design tells a story.

Creative designs can exist in many forms. They can be ads, or videos, or contests, or apps, or e-commerce sites. 

Getting the attention of visitors

The creative design gets the attention of your customers. It shows things in a brand new way. 

Also, it helps customers understand what they need. Customers could discover how they can choose a better option to meet that need. Furthermore, interesting content creates customer motivationThe benefits of creative design are related to what makes it good in the eyes of customers.

Characteristics of good design are that it is:

  • Memorable
  • Clear
  • Credible
  • Relevant
  • Special and unique

That is hard to achieve – which is why the design is referred to as creative.

So the test of creative design is to ask if it is truly creative. Will customers notice it, and feel favorably inclined to take action because of it? If they will, the design will deliver tangible business benefits. 

Different ideas

Sometimes being better means being different. This comes to the fore when it comes to web sites. In other words, creatives who want to stand out must focus less on doing it best, and more on doing it differently.

A creative idea can come from another idea and come up with something different and new. If you can learn to do this over and over, you will know how to create fresh, inspiring work of your own time. If you can do this and also make it look amazing, then you will succeed as a designer and creative.

Related: 6 Creative Management Strategies

Growing your brand’s identity

A twist in web design can make all the difference because it can be a determining factor in separating you from your competition. A creative design will make a bigger impact on your website visitor and in this way it will strengthen your brand identity.

Additionally, it is also important to keep this design across all contexts – meaning website, logo, social media profiles, etc. Taking care of this will create a memorable impression, which visitors are more likely to remember.

What is Functional Design?

Functional Design is a used to simplify the design of hardware and software devices. A functional design assures that every part of a device works with the least effects on other parts.  As a method, it’s used to look at any given system from a functional point of view, making it easier to modify, study or reuse.

Advantages of Functional Design

Considering product goals

One of the main characteristics of the functional design is to show the purpose of the product. For example, the goal of a screwdriver to drive screws. Although there are many innovations in screwdriver design, the purpose must be obvious. Screwdrivers can be with more ergonomic handles, ratchet-assemblies, magnetic tips and exchangeable heads. But in the end, they all must drive screws.

When it comes to websites, their goal is to give information or to sell. For instance, Amazon shows reviews, compares product prices, promote a brand and enable the purchase. But for the people who use it, the most important purpose is – to sell. On the other hand, the purpose of a blog is to provide interesting information.

Read Customer Experience Design: How to Meet Customer Expectations?

Considering how the audience will use it

It’s important to know how will the audience use our web site. To have a better picture, pay attention who is your audience.

Demographic characteristics here are important too. For example, things that work for teenagers might be dysfunctional for older people. Considering the kinds of problems they could have, give us guidelines.

Designers should consider these questions:

  • What kind of knowledge do your users bring with them?
  • How much experience do they have?
  • What kind of time do they have?
  • How much support will they need, and what form should it take?

Knowledge of who your audience is requires some sense of what their intentions are. You can see what are they going to think about your product. Also, you can measure their experience using metrics and understand what will they use your website for.

The simplicity of using a website

Clarity is key to functional design.

Functional websites should fastly provide what visitors are looking for. A website navigation system is clever, so visitors know what the site does or how to do it.

Another thing of simple using is how to deal with mistakes. Visitors make mistakes and website design should be ready for them. The functional design takes into account the possibility that users make mistakes. It accommodates and even anticipates mistakes as much as possible.

Web designers have come up with all sorts of ways to accommodate visitors’ mistakes such as persistent menus and Page Not Found situations.

Benefits of modern functional design

Picture 2. Benefits of modern and functional web design

Balance Between Creative and Functional Design

Building a web site is about building a site visitors expect you to have. Both creative and functional web design have many advantages.

However, if you follow only the advantages of one, you could miss a lot of necessary characteristics of another. Because of that, it is important to strike the right balance.

The right balance between creative and functional web design catches the attention of your users.

It also encourages them to spend time on your website.

Having a functional site that gives the user a satisfying experience is what converts.  You can turn your website into a profit-generating machine for your business.

Most web designers often concern about how the site looks and forget how it functions. Build a site with them in mind that is perfectly functional but still looks fantastic.


That said, there is only one thing to conclude – it’s not functional versus creative. The best option would be functional AND creative. A website functions best if the target audience likes it. This means that the very mix of functional and creative depends on who your expected visitors are, as well as their preferences. 

The basis should in any case be functionality – and the creativity part should depend on a couple of questions:

  • Does it add value to your website?
  • Is it useful and does it have a purpose?
  • Will my audience like it?

Find answers to these questions and you will get a clear and firm direction of your website design.

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Creative vs Functional Design was last modified: July 8th, 2021 by Milica Vujasin
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