In the design industry, I find I’m always arguing with the marketing team. This isn’t because they aren’t nice people – they’re all swell – or because I’m confrontational – I’m the most laid back person I know. Mainly, it’s because we have different goals.
I know this seems a bit strange, considering our goal should really be the same, to sell, promote and market our products, but to a designer it’s all about looks and to a marketer it’s all about sales… So sometimes we don’t always see eye to eye, especially when a design is compromised for the sake of reaching yet another target market.
I’m a big believer in stuff like white space, subtle accents and not too much copy (especially on the web, because people HATE readying through content on websites). I have a big affliction to flashy buttons, drop shadows, big arrows, ANY outlined text, starbursts, basically anything a marketer may use to grab someone’s attention. I also don’t believe in cramming content into every space… But, like everyone, marketers and designers have to find a way to live in harmony, and I think after my 5 years in this field I’ve learned how to coexist.
But now, in the last 6 months I’ve began working as a web designer. Yes, I’ve moved away from print and climbed onto the fascinating and challenging task of designing for the World Wide Web. And guess what? I’ve found a whole new person to argue with: the SEO guy.
Now you have to understand the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO basically is optimizing your website so it ranks well on search engines like Google. You want your website to be on the top of Google, otherwise how will your competition ever find you?
Sound good? I didn’t think so at first. You see, in order to help your page rank well you website has to be full of key words, some of which make no sense whatsoever in a sentence. And it has to be loaded with content! Truthfully, content overrules images when it comes to SEO. I mean what do you think would be more searchable, teddy bear Christmas gift or toybear.jpg? Humm, that’s a tough one. So ideally a website should have pages and pages of content with sentences that don’t really make sense because you need these key words, and very few images, oh and did I mention that media like flash is bad? It is a relief that Flash websites have now gone out of style, but with these modern Web 2.0 sites, which focus on lots of imagery, lots or white space and very little content (I’m in love!!) you can see how it’s difficult to rank well.
So yes, it can be a designer’s hell. Luckily my SEO guy speaks designer very well. If not, I don’t think he would be able to stand sitting next to me (I guess I’m not always laid back). The good news is we’ve successfully managed to come up with a way to marry good design with the elements needed to get good SEO ranking. I wont tell you how we do this… that would be like giving away a secret recipe, but it works pretty well and we’re getting better at it every day.
So a note to businesses: if you have a good looking website that doesn’t rank, what’s the point if no one can find you? And if you have a bad looking website that DOES rank well, again what’s the point? No one is going to take you seriously because your site isn’t aesthetically pleasing. And if you have a bad looking site the also doesn’t rank well… good luck to you.