SEO today is nothing like what it was a few years ago; it continues to evolve and improve in order to give internet users the best possible experience. Search engine optimization is a vital part of building a healthy web presence – everyone, from technical architects and back-end developers to web designers and SEO experts know and accept that fact.
In spite of this, many web design and development teams approach SEO as an extra to take care of on completion of the project, forgetting or disregarding the fact that user experience is a vital component of any website. Even worse, some designers just do the barest minimum to ensure a site isn’t misbehaving, and then throw in a meta description here and an optimized tag there before calling it a day.
In order to realize any website’s maximum potential, search optimization must be just as important as the design phase; approached holistically and with due diligence. Every webmaster and business site owner will benefit by including SEO experts as early as possible in the project.
This necessitates a development scheme that will ensure harmonious co-existence between the SEO and the web design/UX expert team. It’s well known that there’s some inherent animosity between the two parties. However, all these must be left behind, knowing that both teams’ core objective is the same, to have a properly functioning website that performs well in search.
Here are a few places to begin:
Take Advantage Of The Tension
Marketers and UX experts aren’t too fond of each other, approaching each other as though they’re complete opposites: one responsible for catering to user needs, and the other focused on business goals. Inevitably in the process of development, there will be some friction, but a healthy team should know how to use that friction to the client’s benefit.
The success of both SEO and online marketing depend on a site’s ability to give a good user experience. In turn, marketers are more in tune with what users want and can therefore contribute to the UX development process. Understanding this is essential to foster mutual respect and an atmosphere of collaboration throughout the project development lifecycle.
Set Up Common Goals and Use Them in Decision Making
Before beginning the process of design, the SEO and UX experts should clearly define and understand the website’s core objectives. This should guide every idea put forward for content, design, or marketing. If both parties willingly collaborate, the two perspectives on the website goals can yield powerful results.
Come together to develop buyer/user personas for the business, which will inform the decision-making process for the entire project. If, as an SEO you find yourself disagreeing with the UX, consult the pre-developed buyer/user personas which supports your idea.
Decisions in web design and development should not be based on hunches, whether it’s user flows or keyword research. Instead, take advantage of your collective knowledge, user feedback, and industry research to make choices which will improve the website. When you struggle to come to an agreement, ask yourselves these questions:
- Which objective does this idea contribute to?
- Is there a better way to achieve the objective?
- Will the user appreciate this idea?
- How does the content/design element affect our user’s buying/decision-making process?
- Does the idea drive conversions?
This will ensure you accept or reject ideas based on the most important considerations, instead of just doing it to be right/superior to your counterparts.
Content Should Not Be Created In A Vacuum
Never create content without having the website design in mind. Similarly, design should not be taken as the major decider for the tone and messaging of any content. Early on, figure out which would be the best method to develop content according to your website goals – make decisions about site architecture, pages which need to be included or redone, average length of content and all design elements that would be included.
Deciding the content structure together is important as it will curb any delays once the project begins. In addition, it makes for a better user experience. Having high quality content will ensure that site users convert according to your goals, but only if supported by proper application of various design elements, including appropriate use of white space. Good design without high quality content will create inherent distrust in the brand message passed on to users.
Remember that design is not only important as far as human user experience goes. Consider that Google is continually improving its interpretation of web design elements, including the use of human performance indicators (fast page-load speed, low bounce rates, mobile-friendliness etc.).
Don’t Get Tired Of Repeating
If you have previously participated in web development projects, you probably know that you are never truly ‘finished’ with any project. This is because the Internet landscape is never static; user needs and requirements are constantly evolving, as are web best practices and search engine requirements. To stay relevant, your website must change accordingly, and in a time-sensitive manner.
The SEO and UX teams will utilize their knowledge from user and market research to inform decisions on user requirements prior to product launches. However, you must also be equipped to ensure that the website’s performance is measurable on rolling out of the product.
After the launch, the SEO and UX teams will now use feedback from users in real life to evaluate the performance of the site, making small iterative adjustments to create the optimal user experience and drive conversions.
By improving collaboration between SEO and UX experts throughout all phases of the project, all projects will get positive impact, giving higher returns to clients by providing better overall experiences for users.
Jack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at BigDropInc.com. He works at a design, branding and marketing firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms.