Re-inventing the wheel

I’m working nights again as usual, but tonight’s sessions has been somewhat relaxed. I’ve spent most of the evening reading blogs and catching up on the day’s news, and in-between that,¬† flicking over to the football. Earlier on today, I noticed something interesting in the new updates that were made to the site. While going through the changes, I realised that the site was functioning well, however aesthetically its suffering. I think subconsciously, I have been trading design against functionality. Thinking about it now this is not unusual.¬† For any startup that’s being bootstrapped, I’m assuming¬† the focus is generally on producing a working prototype or beta version, and then building on that. However I am wondering whether startups are missing a trick by neglecting the design of the site, and whether having a unique design and look is enough to attract users to a new a website.

As a startup entering a growing, but a relatively mature market, is it enough to just having a working prototype? I understand the need for it to have a unique value proposition, as well as an exceptionally good marketing plan, but what I would like to know is, how important is the design of the site during these early stages? Am I being naive by paying more attention to the functionality of the site, over its design or is this standard protocol among all bootstrapped startups? I have always been of the opinion that look and design of a site can be overhauled if needed, and it would be best to focus on how it will actually work and attract users. Over the years I have seen several ‘startups’ undergo a makeover of sorts, but as I am not re-inventing the wheel, and I do not have huge amounts of capital behind, would it be wiser to focus on its design as a method of attracting users, instead of simply focusing on its USPs. I would be very interested in finding out peoples thoughts on the topic, and I think it is definitely something that needs a lot more thought. If I could, I would definitely pay an agency to re-design the front end of the website, but at this moment in time, I don’t think it’s feasible.

The developer building the site is very good, however front end design isn’t his speciality. Combine this with the fact, that there isn’t much money, I think I have no choice but to continue sacrificing design for functionality, at least for the time being.