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Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:07 PM
I've had the urge to write about this topic for over a year. I sure would appreciate some feedback on it.
I'm going to use my first book as an example, only because it's applicable, not because I'm tring to sell it.
Whenever I dispense advice about search-engine friendly design or optimization, I always start with the foundation. I use the analogy of a house. If you have a house with a weak foundation, no amount of paint, landscaping, or interior design is going to change the fact that the house has a weak foundation. Without the strong foundation, the house will eventually crumble.
Well, it is the same way with site design, and the same way with optimization.
What I try to do at conferences, in forums (such as this one), and articles is to try and guide people to create a strong foundation. With a strong foundation in place, optimization costs can be greatly reduced. Among other benefits.
Here's my pet peeve - advanced designers, developers, and programmers. Using my book as an example, I constantly hear that it is only for beginners. My book was also written for "advanced" designers who think they know everything. Using my analogy, they might know how to paint well, but the foundation stinks.
So how do I better communicate to these "advanced" people that their foundation stinks? More diplomatically stated, of course. And how do I counteract the negative comments that some topics are only for beginners? I'm asking this question because I encounter this situation in clients/customers, too.
I'm sure many of you in the forums have encountered this situation many times over. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:17 PM
One possibility is to include examples ... or even try and sell it to them (combining the two ideas).
e.g. spoken (you could re-write this for written form )
I understand how you feel about this. You're concerned that the (book?) is only going to cover topics you believe you know inside and out. I've had customers who felt the very same way - they thought they understood SEO inside and out (Rob - yes please change my words they are awful but i hope they get the idea across). What they found is by reading the books, they hadn't considered all aspects of SEO and by re-visiting the founding principles, they were able to build a strong and more stable <website>
You may have seen that technique used before (if so sorry for the waste of time ) but I hope it helps.
What i've written obviously needs padding alot, and at the found stage incorporating a good example (maybe) ...
hope this helps in some way,
Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:29 PM
It's funny though because if they do not get that right, it doesn't matter if they use imported tile from Italy, build with expensive insulated block, etc., the house is going to suffer because of the faulty foundation.
We have a client who recently went through a site revision where the CMS system that was developed would not allow for unique meta description tags and even worse, unique title tags. Seeing that they literally have hundreds and hundreds of pages all providing useful information on a variety of topics, their system was flawed because each page had the same "welcome to..." title tag as well as the same meta description tag. They had to completely redesign that portion of their CMS and after hours and hours of work, they now have it fixed. This could have all been averted had they looked at the "basics" of SEO strategy.
Therefore in reference to "advanced programmers" I would say that if they are not building to accommodate SEO, then they have missed the basics themselves. Programmers should develop applications that not only function but that also provide flexibility for change. In reference to some topics being for beginners I would have to say that it is hard for people to read a book, a few newsletters or poke around in a forum and then say they now know SEO when the industry changes daily.
Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:39 PM
SEO IS all about the basics and fundamentals. There's really no such thing as advanced SEO in my mind. I guess advanced SEO just means learning how to spam, perhaps?
Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:53 PM
I believe that the best way to reach the "advanced" group is losts of examples.
If it is a book shows before and after pages and walk people through what you changed and the results you got.
Beginners and advanced designers want to see results..If you can illustrate these, then the advanced designers will pay attention and start using the foundation tools that you use.
Posted 26 May 2004 - 01:58 PM
I haven't read your book, so let me pre-emptively apologize for my ignorance, but I am wondering if the reaction to your book isn't at least partially due to the variations in perspective among different production elements.
For example, I can see how a developer might argue that the foundation of a site is its backend, whereas a designer might think it is the overall layout. Someone else might argue that its the information architecture, while another might argue that the site's foundation is its content. Obviously, this would go on ad nauseaum with the varying goals of the site and the production elements involved in its creation.
By asserting that a site's SEO is its foundation, I think you would naturally run the risk of offending the sensibilities these differing production elements, and it would be natural for those elements to dismiss your claims as simplistic.
This is reaction is even exacerbated by the fact that you are trying to convince people who perceive their knowledge of their particular production element, ie design or development, exceeds yours.
My guess would be your best bet might be to bypass these different elements and focus on the marketing pros and project managers in charge creating sites.
Posted 26 May 2004 - 05:01 PM
Posted 26 May 2004 - 05:39 PM
Posted 27 May 2004 - 02:36 PM
Jill is right -- that is not what I am saying. IMHO, search friendliness is a subset of usability. It has ALWAYS been a subset of usability, and I don't think the vast majority of the SEM, usability, and Web design industries truly understand that.
When people come to a site, they will most likely browse. So you have to design a site for that. And many sites contain a search function. So you have to design a site for that as well. If a site is categorized well and accurate results show up for the site search, then it probably won't have many problems with Google or Yahoo visibility. (There are exceptions and other factors. I'm just trying to make a point.)
That's how I've always designed sites: foundation first, bells-and-whistles second. That CMS example is exactly what I am referring to. Thanks SearchRank.
I have never designed sites purely for SEO. What a mistake! The search engines don't spend thousands or millions of dollars on products and services. The target audience will. I always design for users. Search engine visibility happens to be a part of the package.
To be perfectly honest, that last paragraph is what I've been saying since 1995. I sound like a broken record. It just blows my mind that I still have to keep those comments in my articles, books, and presentations. Maybe I should get a tape recorder and press "Play" so I don't have to listen to myself anymore.
I don't buy the separate opinion scenario. If a company is targeting Web site designers, then design and market a site based on your target audience of Web site designers. But if your target audience is manufacturers, then design a manufacturing site. Use the colors that manufacturers respond to best. Put words and phrases on pages commonly used in that manufacturing industry branch. Accommodate for browser differences, whenever possible.
Too many people say, "Well this is how I would do it." Who cares? What matters is how your target audience responds. We've been tracking user behavior on Web sites for years. That's where my data comes from. Rarely do the CEO's opinion and user behavior data match.
Web designers, developers, and programmers tend to design for themselves and their personal preferences, IMHO. To me, a really good Web designer has technical, marketing, and artistic skills.
Overgeneralizing, of course, but sometimes I feel like I'm speaking to brick walls. Which is why I ask for help. Foundation first, bells-and-whistles second. I can't believe I'm still saying this in 2004.
Okay, end of rant.
Your comments have been quite helpful. Can't do befores-and-afters due to NDAs, but something to keep in mind. Thank you.
Posted 27 May 2004 - 07:18 PM
You're not talking to brick walls over here. A good portion of the people who frequent this forum feel the same way, and have for a long time. Kind of why we end up congregating together.
The folks over at Cre8asiteforums are also of the same mind. They pretty much call it "holistic Web design." I'm not sure, but someone there may have coined the phrase. I think it's a good one, because it really says it all.
SEO is no good without good design, which is no good without, usability, which is no good without good copywriting, and on and on and on. They all go together, and the sooner that SEOs, Webdesigners, usability analysts and copywriters all realize this, the sooner the Internet will have better and better sites.
We are definitely making progress though!
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