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How to tackle the dilemma of SEO versus website aesthetics

How to tackle the dilemma of SEO versus website aesthetics

By Andrew Rayner, Director at

Having started working on a website project for a client that includes designers, developers and us, for SEO, we soon got to the all too common dilemma of Findability vs Aesthetics.

Now whilst we did have some common ground, there were an awful lot of conflicting priorities than need to be smoothed out – a bit like the new coalition government actually!

In all honesty it did get me thinking, if the Conservatives and Liberals can find a harmonious relationship then surely so can an SEO partner and a website designer!

Rather like I’m sure the government had to do, it was necessary for us to lay down the key ground rules to determine what the aims of both parties were and how each party planned to deliver.

I’m not suggesting you lock yourselves away for 4 days of hush-hush talks, but you do need to thrash out how you can both achieve the aims for the website and ultimately deliver what the client wants and needs from the site. What should SEO and Design deliver?

SEO should meet the marketing objectives from the point of search positioning, key word density, headings, titles and descriptions.

It should have a fast-to-load page with limited graphics and, where possible, never ever any flash (and for mobile browsing no java either). Fonts are relevant too but more from the point of browser compatibility than visual identity.

Conversely, the designer is looking at the pure visual engagement of the site. The designer wants to have a rolling set of images, graphics instead of headings and fonts that meet the brand objectives.

The problem is that often, the designer doesn’t realise that Google “mark down” sites that are slower to load (rolling images), that search engines can’t see graphics but really favour headings and that fonts which can’t work on certain browsers can cause a default font to be presented which completely messes up the carefully planned layout! Suffice to say it can easily end up at stale mate if the SEO and designer don’t focus on the one most important thing; what should be done in the best interest of the client.

This neatly takes me back to David Cameron and Nick Clegg – my personal view is the appointment of Clegg as Deputy PM was a stroke of genius.

This collaboration at every level and their ability to overcome their apparently opposing views has only been achieved through their focus on the common aim, the client, who in their case are comprised of the 16million+ people who voted for them as a collective. So, to sum up, great design and great SEO can work together in harmony when both parties clearly understand and work towards the client’s objectives.

Communication and explanation of constraints, reasons and motivations are critical to agreeing a happy medium....

I think in the UK our new political landscape should percolate through to our business landscape, and, much as we as an SEO partner must work alongside our designer colleagues, so many businesses will partner with others where the opportunities from finding the synergies far exceed any differences of opinion.

See, now there was no need for all that arguing was there?


For SEO training, contact the experts at The Knowledge Engineers who can help you to achieve SEO success.

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