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SEO, Code & Web Design – Catch Up to the Now!

Designers, you don’t need to know SEO or optimization, but you do need to know user interface! It’s “the now” of web design, and it’s essential to...

When are you going to wake up, catch up and step into “the now”? “The now” isn’t a fad; it’s not going away. It’s not just an idea grandma came up with in the middle of a late night soap opera.

These aren’t the days of Basic programming, Windows Paint and NCSA Mosaic. Flash is dying, slowly being buried under HTML 5 – don’t argue; it’s happening. Mobile web is shaking desktop browsers. Design programs are exploding with brand new features. Between HTML, XML, CSS, Java, Ruby, Perl and others, there are over ten web programming languages.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are no longer in the safe days of the Commodore 64’s. We’re past the times of IRC or BBSes and delving into the days of Craigslist, instant messenger, graphics to the nth degree and more. Forget about the safe days. Step into “the now”.

Designers, you don’t need to know optimization, but you do need to know user interface! It’s “the now” of web design, and it’s essential to providing your clients with a worthwhile website. If you design beautiful works of professional art, bully for you. However, if those professional works can’t be navigated by the end user, you’re developing wonderful, beautiful pieces of crap that clutter up the Internet.

User interface isn’t an opinion. It isn’t an option. Your clients want those websites for a reason – to convert visitors into paying, reading, engaging, interested, viral consumers. What happens when a visitor can’t find their way around the website because the buttons are all hidden behind beautiful artwork? Boom – epic fail.

Lastly, let me point out that if you don’t know a single thing about creating a website beyond design, you need to start asking the programmer, “Can you do this” or “Can we use this font”. Here’s some news for you. Just because you think Optima looks lovely as a paragraph header, doesn’t mean the visitor will see it. In fact, chances are they won’t. Check out web safe fonts before you go dinkin’ around in the font vault, will you?

Programmers, let me wake you up to a few terms you may not know. Search. Engine. Optimization. Ease of use. Site speed. Clean code. Java includes instead of java scripts. Compression

When you’re turning that gleaming professional design into a shiny new website, keep these things in mind. Clean code and site speed aren’t suggestions. The more useless crap you have on your client’s website, the worse a job you’ve done for them. Don’t be lazy – clean up your leftover code before you go!

-And what’s with the fifty lines of code in the header? Why must you have eight different CSS sheet references? Why can’t you combine them into one file? The same goes for Java script. You don’t have to overload the header. Be kind – combine.

Last, do you like money? Would you like to keep making it? The best way to ensure you keep bringing clients in is by doing that little extra to help them. Take the time to use those header and alt tags. They aren’t there just to annoy you. I promise.

Now, I’m not saying any of this because I don’t like designers or programmers. I’ve been on both sides – I’ve been the designer dealing with the programmer, the programmer dealing with the designer and the optimizer dealing with both. I’ve made some of these mistakes and fixed some of the mistakes others have made.

It’s not easy to create a professional website the equivalent of a *Bugatti Veyron, but it can be done. Of course, if you do it all yourself, you might think it’ll be easier; it won’t be, because you’ll have to remember it all, too. To make it succeed, the designer, programmer and optimizer have to work together.

SEO – it’s in the now. Design? Yep. In the now. Three programming languages combined in one website? Oh yeah. Your clients want shiny, clean, search engine-friendly, visitor-friendly, conversion-making, online Bugatti Veyrons. Why not give them what they want… that’s now, too.

Bugatti Veyron Image
How’d ya like me now?

*Incidentally, the Bugatti Veyron is the most expensive new car in the world – $1.7 M, 987 hp and over 250 mph.

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6 Responses

  1. Nice to see someone tell it like it is 🙂 Great points all around: HTML5 is exciting and mobile web design will be huge in 2011. Isn’t it astonishing how many people out there still need convincing that SEO is a necessity? I’ve found that long-term, organic traffic is the most cost effective method of online advertising.
    It’s funny, after all these years of search engine algorithm changes, simple things like you point out (headers and alt tags) still count.
    And always appreciate a fellow web guru who allows for a friendly plug of their site too 😉 Take care.
    Indianapolis Web Design

  2. @Connor – With HTML 5 (have you SEEN some of the stuff they’re coming up with – fantastic!) coming into the show, I really can’t see flash staying around much longer, at least not fully flash websites. However, I have to tell you – it’s definitely around. I do a lot of research online and come across at least one flash site a week. Now, that may not sound like much, but how many sites have I NOT come across? Then you have to add in those sites with “mostly flash, a little content” and those with a flash home page.

    It’s around, but hopefully people will pick up, and catch up, on other options. Thanks for the comment!

    @website design – I’m glad you liked the post… I’d like to mention, however – you can use an actual name and then drop a link in the content to your site with keywords included.

  3. i like the car over your flash presentation..hmm but i definetely agree on every point you have said..thanks so much for sharing with us so much of your knowledge

  4. Great post, flash is definitely dying..well at least from a strictly seo standpoint. Its easier for spiders to crawl html pages then pages full of flash. However, it is a cool interface..its completely unnecessary. In fact i havent seen a page full of flash in a while..but then again what do I know?

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