When building a website or application you have to insure that it speaks directly to your target audience, that it engages them (FORM), and that it functions. I have seen really sexy designs with very little on the back-end which was widely accepted because it was slick and easy to use. On the flip side, I have seen some of the greatest technology in the world, but without a slick and sexy interface it wasn’t accepted by its user base.
This is very true with a site that I have recently tried to place an order on for the past 2 days www.northface.com. The site employs ajax, flash, and IBM websphere commerce (which is very server intensive) as its shopping cart. From the front end it is a very nice site and it allows you to search for items, pick an item, view alternate colors, and zoom in on the product. These are extremely nice features, however its not done very well as there are to many moving parts on the back-end. The site is slow, it is riddled with errors.
Bottom Line: pick a design and features your customer will relate while not over utilizing technology.
You might wonder, “Matt why would you pass up extra hours for the build of the greatest looking site in the world?” Its just not worth it, as it will reflect poorly on the brand, and myself. So whats the point?