Balancing Design and SEO Efforts

In many of the daily contacts I make every day I see an ever-repeating polarization between professional web designers and SEO professionals. The reality is that the effort should be viewed in much the same way as one would approach building a symphony orchestra.

The orchestra is built of many interworking parts. The players are guided by the conductor to reproduce a work of music. Each player fulfills their part of executing the notes written on the page in accordance to the timing and style of the conductor. There are passages in the music where an individual musician will be asked to play solos but the overall musical product is a group effort. This is exactly how one could view building and executing a successful web presence for their clients.

One of the hallmarks of great design in my opinion is for it to be transparent to the user. Well executed design allows the visitor to accomplish what they are looking to do and move on with their day. Let me ask you a question. Of all the sites that you regularly visit to buy something, when is the last time you sat back and said to yourself, "Wow, that layout is just spectacular..."? You probably came to the site, found what you wanted, bought what you wanted and got on to the next thing in your list. The design worked well enough to not annoy you into not buying the product. And there are lots of sites that work well enough. This isn't to belittle design. I'm just saying that most users are smart enough to get what they want and as long as they aren't made to jump through too many stupid hoops.

Obviously the same goes for well executed SEO. If someone's looking for an answer to something, you make it easy for them to find. The content is crafted so you're not stuffing keywords for example. It's natural. It's what your customer is looking for.

A trumpet teacher of mine once said of Schubert 3rd symphony, "Know what makes playing this piece so tough? If you do everything right, nobody knows you're playing. Miss a note and everybody knows."

That one statement sums up how it goes for teams utilizing all the tools at hand to provide a quality web presence. If we do everything we're supposed to do, the customer doesn't notice. Goof up one part though, and the site doesn't convert, doesn't get found, etc. And it takes practice and research just like it takes a world-class musician years of hard work to be able to do what they do. Musicians call it "wood shedding".