Friday, November 11, 2005

Design & SEO... a match made in Heaven....or is it?

I often find myself browsing showcase sites for Webdesign and one of the many things i've noticed is that there is an amazing amount of talented designers/developers out there making some incredible looking sites. However, every now and then i run across a design that looks great, meets compliance, has light code, but absolutely zero usability.

My point is that Design doesn't just have to look good, it has to be functional. SEO isn't just about keywords, content and links - it's about keeping customers on a site and making it easy for them to get to what they want. I've outlined a few key do's and dont's below:

  • Use a sitestructure that reduces the amount of clicks a user has to make to get to where they want to go (i.e. products in an e-commerce site)

  • Using too much content can deter potential customers from the site, content is good for SEO, but does anyone actually take the time to read the lot?

  • Use a logical layout that draws the users eyes to the most relevant items

  • NEVER use any sort of hidden Navigation or navigation that users can't figure out

  • Avoid using pop-up windows, unless absolutely necessary (such as for viewing a magnified image of a certain product)

  • Use colors that provide good contrast between content and background, especially for product descriptions, details and navigation

  • Avoid using Graphics for Navigation Text, it's a nightmare to update and adds no value

  • Use clean code (preferrably semantic markup - more on that later)

  • Use includes files for all sorts of fancy DHTML or Javascript (such as dropdown menus and the like)

A lot of you are going to say "Duh!", but trust me, there are still a lot of SEO companies, Designers and Developers out there who don't seem to put any importance on the above

The only way to design something completely foolproof is to never underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools

-Douglas Adams


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