Designing and developing websites is both an art and a science. As an art form, web design is about being immensely creative whilst harnessing raw artistry into the disciplines of the graphic design world. The science side is in the technicality of developing a website that displays correctly across multiple devices, functions well for all users and succeeds in driving the goals of the website owners.
It’s a similar story for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) too. There’s an art to understanding all the nuances of SEO and then combing them into a dynamic yet cohesive digital marketing strategy. SEO is science-led by the sheer amount of data analysis, the constant attempts at reverse-engineering of trade secret search engine algorithms and the application of the learnings in a practical manner, experimenting, observing and changing strategy based on results.
Even the writing of this article has been an art and a science – the skill of arranging words into a structured format, optimised for human consumption, whilst also inherently understanding how search engines crawl and analyse structure, words, and their relationships with one another. All the while Natural Language Processing (NLP) is being applied to identify the entities and improve the sentiment of the document. Machine Learning (ML) has been at work on these words as the search engines develop ever more effective Artificial Intelligence (AI) so that machines can better understand the written labours of humankind.
When you combine all these arts and sciences into a single project you get a result that succeeds far beyond the sum of its parts. SEO, web design & content are the winning combination for any web development project.
What About Just Web Design?
When you encounter a great web design it’s easy to be instantly impressed by the visuals. A good designer will make sure the look is “on brand”, that the layout is eye-catching and logical, maybe implementing some Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) techniques to guide the user on a journey across the web page to achieving the goal of the site owner.
But, as we’ve said in a previous post, what if your web designer/developer doesn’t know SEO?
Developing a website on a staging environment, your web designer needs to conduct pre-flight checks before going live. One critical check is to ensure bots are not crawling and indexing a test site but then that option needs to be unticked once the web design goes live. We’ve seen sites that have been live for years but that have no traffic! Seriously.
How fast does your website load? Looking good is one thing but your web design needs to be fast too. Speedy load times are both a technical SEO aspect and best practice in web development. A fast-loading website is good for the user experience and good for rankings too.
Then there’s the structure of your website; Is it logical, laid out in a manner that is easy to navigate, is your content organised correctly, did you keep the structure of the last successful website or did your designer completely change it? On this last point we once saw a design team say there was “too much text” on one website and they removed the successful content from the site in question, halving its traffic immediately upon launch.
So having just the best website design in Hampshire is good but it will benefit massively from additional SEO services and having content written by a competent and experienced copywriter.
And if I focus purely on SEO?
Again, in isolation, performing just one task of the many that are needed will benefit your website project but would so much more fruitful if you were to utilise all the skills in your repertoire at the same time.
If you had the best SEO agency in Hampshire working on your website but the design was not the prettiest it could be, you’d see this reflected in visitor behaviour. There’d be signs of this in your Google Analytics as your bounce rates stay high, dwell times remain low, as do pages per session.
SEO is one essential part of your website strategy, but you’ll need this to dovetail in with your web design and content writing.
Analysing the structure of an existing site, modifying it, if needs be, to suit a logical and beneficial format then giving that data to your developer will help them to create a solid foundation for the new website build. Any changes in paths or filenames should be highlighted so that you or your developer create helpful redirects that will ensure your new site is more orderly and useful for users.
What about copy and content?
On its own, the copy on your website may be excellent but you need that winning combination of design and SEO to really make your content work.
Your beautifully written, engaging copy will work wonders in the framework of a stunning design. The form and layout of your pages will assist in crafting copy that is concise, the words will flow, and you’ll be able to signpost your audience to get in touch with your business.
That very same copy will both captivate your readers and be machine readable. The search engines will see and understand your subjects and themes, as per Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the semantic web. Your copy will be more accurate and relevant to your topic when you enlist the skills of a copywriter experienced in the art and science of SEO. Search engines will read your content’s structure, draw meaning from your keywords and see richness in the synonyms.
By working closely with your designers and your SEO experts, your content will be more than the sum of its parts.
SEO, web design and content are all disciplines in their own rights, but to combine them masterfully will bring out the best in all of them. Your content is better leveraged by good web design and SEO brings out the best aspects to ensure your website gains better visibility in search.
Together, all these specialist skills are the winning combination that, when used from the very start of a web design project, will ensure its successful outcome, for your customers and for your business.
Clever Marketing, the Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire digital agency, are experts in SEO, web design and content. As a full-service agency we offer graphic design and PPC too.