Web design focuses on appearance and aesthetics. SEO focuses on text
quality and quantity. Web designers don’t really like to clutter their designs
with text. They prefer to see the images stand out on their own. SEOs on the
other hand don’t like images that much. Sure, an image can be optimized for the
search engines by adding relevant alt attributes and titles, but this is not
enough for a site to be properly optimized. Page copy still plays the most
important role in website optimization for SEO.

As a business owner you are caught in the middle of this conflict. For
your website to convert you need both design and optimization. There is no
middle way. You cannot have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and
still be competitive. You cannot have just one of the two either. Without
optimization your site is invisible to the search engines, hence to your
potential customers. On the other hand, without a good design your site,
although not invisible, will get nothing but hits. Web users are picky and if
they find nothing of interest on your site they will just surf to the next site.

Having a beautiful website no one can find is like having a store and keeping
the doors locked. You know it is there, you’ve done a great job decorating it,
the products are waiting for the customers, yet no one comes in.

When you pay for web design don’t automatically assume that by paying
thousands of dollars on a layout you’ll be a hit on the Web. The Web is a highly
competitive place. There are already thousands entrepreneurs who, just like you,
invest in design and hope to become the new "it." Without online marketing (SEO
being an important part of the discipline) all these entrepreneurs will remain
in the shadow, with their beautiful websites closed to the world.

SEO is the key to that virtual door you need to open for your
customers. It is important that you consider this tool when you first conceive
your site. Web design and SEO don’t need to be enemies. There are enough
professional agencies that employ both web designers and SEOs who work together
to develop a good business website, a site that is SEO ready, accessible and
readable with any browser. You just need to take your time, research and send a
few inquiries. Then choose the company that answers your questions in a timely
manner, basically choose the company that proves a clear ability of designing
with W3C standards and a clear understanding of the online trends and realities.

Then balancing content with visual appearance shouldn’t be such a difficult
task. Aside graphics and artwork you have to choose proper font types, in a
readable size, with colors that harmonize with the layout of the site and so on.
If your site is not SEO ready from the first stage of the project you’ll face
additional costs after you launch. SEO ready means a site that is properly coded
(errors in the HTML code might stop some search bots from crawling and indexing
your site correctly), with good navigability and good internal linking

On the other hand, SEO and appearance are not the only traits of a
good site. Brand conscious companies should look at the broader picture: instead
of debating what is better online entrepreneurs should ask themselves what works
best to convert visitors into clients.

Studies show that an over optimized page might hurt the user-experience of
people with disabilities. For example, many SEOs stuff the image alt attributes
and their alternative titles with keywords. Blind and other visually impaired
people who use screen readers to access the Web and read the pages cannot see
the images and, instead of listening to a relevant image description, they’ll
hear… nonsense.

Usability and accessibility are equally important as design and
optimization. Strangely enough images are better for usability. They give focus
to the design and when properly optimized they provide for less cluttered
website content. The problems appear when the images slow down the loading
times, but with the use of CSS loading times should not be a big concern.

As search engines prefer fast loading sites it is easy top understand
why good coding and optimization are so important. Poor coding raises many other
problems aside loading times and might increase costs when you need website
updates, especially when your website administrator is not the one who created
your site.

Mihaela Lica used to be a military journalist, worked six
years as a freelance reporter for the Romanian National Radio Station (ROR) and
four years in the Public Relations Direcorate of the Romanian Ministry of
Defense. Since 2002 she is a PR consultant in Germany. For more SEO articles