Phase I- The Bygone era of website design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In the 90s when the internet started to get popular in terms of businesses starting to have a presence on the internet; I remember, it still took a lot of convincing for many businesses, especially small business owners to consider having an online presence. Back then, having an online presence was mostly like displaying a brochure online. Many of these online businesses would put up their brochures online. That’s it. From the design perspective, businesses would not want to spend much on designing. Sometimes the whole page would be a huge image, sometimes just a few lines of text with contact numbers and an email id. Only a few businesses would perhaps have a full fledged website. As far as Search engine optimization goes, the maximum that Search Engine Optimizers (SEO was coming into being then and there weren’t really that many people doing SEO) could do was to provide titles, descriptions, and keyword Meta tags, and suggest the sites to search engines and search directories. The part that I liked back then is the ease with which web sites could rank with a relevant keyword; understandable since there were hardly that many sites competing, and SEO was even rarer!
Here, I will draw an analogy with constructing a home or building. We need a house, we do not have a house …so what do we do?
We construct a basic, very functional house; it serves the purpose, but is not really visually appealing. It’s just that; a house with rooms and walls to serve a purpose. I guess there wasn’t time or the need to mull over the finer aspects like making it attractive, it has to be constructed, and so be it.
Phase II- The evolving era of website designing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
With the availabilty of better tools, and more service providers coming into the field, the internet got a big boost, a new era of web designers were born, they design really beautiful web sites, with frames, with animations, flash, etc. But are these sites user friendly? Can people get to these sites? Do these sites download fast? Are they accessible?
From the SEO perspective, many search engines could not index such websites, because of heavy applications and images, websites took ages to download. That took away the patience of the visitors as well. We created beautiful websites but not many could find them! Finally when they did, they could not find everything on the site!
Again, if we draw an analogy with constructing a building, we construct beautiful home, spend huge amount of money to make it look beautiful, but are these homes safe, practical, and functional too?
Phase III -The new generation of web sites, website designers, and Search Engine Optimizers
We have a new generation of web designers who are familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) nuances, they design keeping in mind various factors so that the end result is a perfect balance beauty and functionality. Striking this cord of course is not easy, one has to test and test and test constantly.
The point that is evident today is that we will see designers, developers, and Search Engine Optimizers work together. Today, almost everyone who has access to the internet has either shopped online, has downloaded eBooks, bought tickets, and much more. Websites are getting better and better, search engines results are very relevant these days.
And again, drawing an anology with constructing buildings; we have multi storied complexes that are functional and yet are not bad looking. A good amount of time is spent on planning and ensuring that there is a perfect marriage of beauty and functionality. The buildings are modern, eco friendly, and user friendly. Interesting!
Designing will continue to evolve and so will SEO, but they have to go hand in hand in order to provide the best to the end users. In summary, website designing has evolved into a creative science, creating website’s that are user friendly, good looking, and SEO friendly too!
For more on SEO and Website design, you can also check out this article on SEO and best practices for Website Designing that I wrote some time back.