SEO vs design - is there a middle ground?

by Adrenalin
21 Sep 2016
5 min read
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SEO vs design - is there a middle ground?

SEO vs design. It’s like breaking up a fight between two toddlers over the last chocolate chip cookie. Each will grab hold with all of their might until they are blue in the face and holding that cookie high in victory.

Thankfully, whilst this scenario may still be evident, the balance between effective and engaging design and good SEO practices is finding a more even keel. Not only is the marrying of the two processes becoming easier and more commonplace, SEO specialists and designers are moving closer to becoming well-functioning allies.

The first key to this successful digital marriage is to recognise that both the SEO and design teams have different priorities, and the key is to balance those priorities to produce a website that ticks both sides’ boxes.

At the end of the day the truth is, if one does not work, it puts the efforts of the other in jeopardy and results in a site that is worth squat. There is no point having a beautiful website that no one can find… and vice-versa. Your site may rank highly and generate a lot of traffic, yet be so unaesthetically pleasing to the end user that your bounce rate is soaring with the eagles.

Let’s break down the main points of contention between the two and the steps you can take to reach an amicable middle ground.

1. The love affair (or lack of) with copy

You have SEO in one corner and design in the other, with copy sitting smack bang in the middle. SEO loves text, design not so much. Good copy is needed to boost on-page SEO yet can interfere with the look and feel of a site and limit creative license. 

The challenge? To create copy that satisfies both sides. Copy that engages the reader, grabs their attention and entices them to discover more. Copy that slide nicely into a well-designed site. On the other hand, the copy needs to be well optimised, with relevant content and easy integration of keywords (without keyword stuffing) to help boost your on-page optimisation.

The solution? Find yourself a gun copywriter who understands the requirements of both designer and developer. Their skill set should enable them to expertly combine the heart of the product or service on offer whilst keeping search bots happy with headings and keywords, without being too obvious about it.

2. Following a plan (or lack thereof)

Let’s put this in terms that everyone will appreciate: Read the recipe before you bake the cake (because everybody loves cake…)

The challenge? Planning and abiding by a functional website plan with sensible and user-friendly navigation, layout and design.

The solution? Before any design or development takes place, it is in everyone’s best interest to discuss both SEO and design integrations right from the outset. All SEO integrations and requirements can be identified at the wireframe stage and sit front of mind throughout design stage to ensure all aspects of the site build are optimised correctly.

Plan your content and pages well so that both the user and search engines can navigate and crawl through content and make meaningful and effective linkages. Finding you are cramming too much information on one page? Split it into separate pages for separate areas and optimise appropriately. By setting a plan you’ll see your site at a glance before you even begin.

3. Use your tags, headings and URLs effectively 

Tags, headers, links and URLS continue to play an important part in website optimisation and their value cannot be underestimated.

The callenge? Ensuring your tags are appropriately attributed throughout your site from the beginning. 

The solution? Adding in tags and headings can often be an afterthought in the design process with a mad rush at the end of design, spent adding titles, meta-descriptions, alt tags and headings into each page and content. Save everyone the hassle by setting these straight at planning stage. Look at not only the visuals of your images, but the tags associated with them to increase SEO. Take the time to step back and see what Google sees – Google sees text, tags, HTML – not pretty pictures. Think like Google.

4. Beautiful design - questionable functionality? 

There are certain design elements in websites that look fabulous yet have the capability to turn a functioning website into a crumbling mess.

The challenge? Building effective designs in a SEO-friendly way.

The solution? Understand how to implement effective SEO practices into the design. This can be as simple as ensuring images are optimised for the web (72dpi and less than 100KB) to reduce slow loading times, build banners using webfonts and HTML and CSS where you can to keep Google and other search engines happy.

So that’s it in a nutshell – our top 4 tips for happy SEO and design. Sounds easy enough right?

Want More?

Our team at Adrenalin has fought and conquered the SEO vs design war and have found that harmonious middle ground where the two work in hand-in-hand to produce beautiful websites that are both pleasing to the end user and keep those search engines happy.

Want to know more about how our team works together? Get in touch!

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