Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Web Designer Should Know SEO Techniques

A web designer’s primary job is making things look great. Bring the beauty, let someone else deal with the code. But if you are fortunate enough to have worked with someone who has both the designer and developer skill sets, you know what a striking difference it can make to the finished product. The ability to incorporate SEO concepts into the very design of the page is priceless.

Since the days of hand-coded HTML sites, we generally have dealt with SEO by applying it on the back-end, once the site was aesthetically developed. However, with the advent of CMS solutions and other development platforms, we have the opportunity to make or break the SEO of a page at the template stage, and with the placement of every piece of content thereafter. The design of a site needs to incorporate the philosophy that SEO is the end-game of the project, not a bolt-on to be dealt with later.

Consider the scenario where a CMS template is employed. Perhaps it’s a sleek design, it has customizations based on the organization’s vertical, and it’s Responsive. Those are great functionalities that mean nothing without tight CSS, good use of header tags, and image layouts that are functional and don’t overburden the image/html ratio.

Speaking of tags, it’s within the typography portion of the design phase that a developer can make or break a site. Especially in a template scenario, a designer might elect to make the H1 tag flaming yellow, to discourage its use, when that could cause SEO problems for the rest of the site’s existence.

It’s a rare venture that has both a developer and a designer in one person, but if you can find that individual, you will pay yourself back one hundred times with a site that performs beyond expectations. If you are working with a design house and hiring your own developer or SEO consultant, make sure the entire web team gels well and have strong communication skills.

Kathleen Hurley, COO at Fidelity Networks, has over 15 years’ experience as a business services CIO, a background as a small business owner, and more than a decade as a web developer. Kathleen says that her MBA in IT from the University of Wales and her BA in English allow her to do two things really well: read the directions and speak to fellow humans.