Web Designers: Should You Be Thinking About SEO?
You might be surprised to learn that it isn't just copywriters and SEO managers that need to think about SEO when a website is being built or revamped. A good website starts from the foundations, with web design being a key initial component, alongside the quality content.
Web designers not only make a site look good, but they build, design and make a website functional. This can easily include the logo of the site to create a brand and theming the website to put emphasis on the company's online reputation. If a website looks bad, people will associate the company with being bad; if a website is difficult to navigate, then potential customers will give up navigating it, meaning there will likely be a higher bounce rate and lower conversion rate.
So, what do web designers have to do?
Some might not think that it's a web designers job to care about SEO, especially when revamping a site, but that's just not the case. Below are the five reasons why web designers should be thinking about SEO.
Mobile traffic is becoming more and more prevalent, so responsive designs for websites are key in 2018 and beyond. Not only will a website be easier for potential customers to navigate, it is also something that Google particularly favours. This isn't something a copywriter or SEO manager can do; it starts with the web designer.
Responsive design allows a website to adjust to the width of whatever screen you are viewing it on, usually removing the navigation and making it a pop-out from the side to free up space for the text and images.
Think to websites you've visited when out and about, or when you're too lazy to get up and go on your desktop. If you can't view the content and find the website difficult to navigate, would you keep looking at it? Would you go to the contact page and send through an enquiry? If you wouldn't do it, then your customers wouldn't either.
The structure of a website is usually determined by the content that is written for it, but how a website looks and how it can be navigated is a web designer's job. This couples in with the previous point about having a responsive design in that potential customers will not want to spend too long searching around your website looking for what they want. You want to make your site as easy to navigate as possible and that's where the web designer comes in.
The web designer, as the job title suggests, designs the website. This means that they must think about the site's structure before its building and creation. Generally, a potential customer should never be more than 4 clicks from the home page. Not only this, but Google should be able to easily find your content, improving your SEO.
Did you know that if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, it might have a higher abandonment rate than faster sites? If a potential customer has to wait for a site to load up, they're more likely to click back and find another business to send an enquiry to.
Some web designers don't think of site speed as an important factor; or, just don't think about it at all. Between the building of the site, the designing and the implementation of all of the other aspects of initial SEO, it might be easy to miss site speed as a factor. However, if you rope in the importance of page speed from the very beginning of the site's building, or revamping, you won't ever forget. It's just as important as any other aspect and can easily lead to a make or break decision by a potential customer.
Playing into site speed, image optimisation is key when creating or revamping a website. Of course, using the correct image for the correct page is vital; conveying the best message you possibly can will help your customers with visual representations of products and your business.
But, optimising images is a web designer's job and aids with site speed, too. Large images slow down web pages considerably, with more big images slowing down the website even more. Decreasing an image's file size using a script or plugin will decrease the amount images on a site will slow it down.
Though it's not up to a web designer to take care of a site's SEO, it's always good to check before a site goes live or a revamp is released to the online world. There are many SEO tools online, but a few that designers should know how to use simple programs to check over the site. Tools such as Responsive Web Design Testing, Screaming Frog and GTmetrix to analyse site speed.
There are plenty of other tools to explore and depending on how involved the web designer is with the company's SEO and copywriting, they may want to find a wider range of tools to help them out.
So, what should you be doing to help a site's SEO?
As a web designer, you might not have thought about helping to improve a site's SEO, but you are the first port of call. Make sure you design a website correctly and look out for all of the steps above and you'll help the site you're designing or redesigning get a great headstart.
Work together with your SEO manager and copywriter to create the best website you can. At the Smart Domain Group, we make sure to give our clients the best SEO opportunities whether we are just creating a website for them, or continuing to carry out monthly SEO for them. If you are interested in SEO, then speak to a member of our team today for more information.