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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Professional Rivalry -SEO, Developer and Designer!

Monday, March 25, 2013
Image Courtesy: FlyerTalk
Historically, web designers, developers and SEO professional enjoy a shrewish relationship. This could be due to several reasons such as lack of understanding the best practice of designing and developing a website, improper inter-department coordination, knowledge gap, process deviation, and a high degree of micro-management.   

The cantankerous is possibly due to the nature of their jobs, and core area of focus. A designer looks at a website from color’s perspective, a developer looks at a website from coding and functionality perspectives while SEO looks at a website from search engine perspective.

It’s obvious that a designer and a developer’s success are hardly measured by ranking, and traffic of a website. Whether a site ranks on Google or not, a developer or designer is hardly made responsible. They work for different metrics with different KRAs set by an organization.

A web designer hardly revisits and reviews a website once they pass it on to the next phase of development while most of web developers feel relieved once a website goes live, for they believe that their job is over, with a big bash and pat. Any additional changes, if proposed by SEO professional thereafter, are deemed as low priority tasks. This causes a sloppy implementation, half-hearted efforts, and a lack of focus being given to address SEO issues.  

Neither do they have a direct stake nor does management blame them for a site's poor performance on search engines. All roads then lead to Rome, SEO scapegoat! 

Quite often, we confront this question - "If developer knows SEO tidbits, then why are SEO professionals needed? What are expected from them?" To our understanding, SEO is comprised of various elements. SEO starts with a good design, usability, development, code standards, web layout structure, content, and on-page & off-page. The core job of SEO is to continue adapting to the changes in Google algorithms, recommending new techniques such as rich snippets, dis-vow links, and Google+ Authorship, users’ rating, trusted program, social analytics, web analytics, data interpretation, focus on search engine visibility, tag management, and so on.
Image Courtesy: Under World Magazines

Unfortunately, SEO professionals, in many verticals, feel like an alien in an unknown land of developers invading their territory with dos’ and don’ts which developers feel like snake oil and a pollution of their craft of code-perfect websites. Add to this apathy, the developers who should know everything from HTTP status codes to session ids, arguably ask question to an SEO professional    –“Why did not you advise us during pre-launch of a website?  -SEO scapegoat!  

Practically speaking, SEO’s core focus is not to advise the best practices of developing a site from SEO perspective unless it’s required. If they do it for a developer’s knowledge, credit to SEO professionals for taking such academic step in an organization to train them. Furthermore, recommending complex technical changes compatible with search engine is also not the core focus of SEO professionals. If they do this, they simply clean your (developer) mess, for which you (developer) must appreciate him/her for helping you (developer) in writing clean code.


Summarizing with Cristian  D. and J. Sirovich, who in their book clearly mention “SEO is not only the job of the marketing department. It must be considered from a web site′s inception and throughout its lifetime by you, the web site developer.” 

It’s thus imperative for all developers to know SEO best practices on programming side. And, its equally important for designers to lay emphasis on great designs, layouts and graphic elements than simply designing an insipid layout for immediate delivery of a project. In a service based industry, concept sells, and what matters more is impeccable execution of “concept” to deliver a “market ready product”. Wearing a marketing hat for creating a market ready website is a responsibility of developers and designers, for the core focus of a marketing department is to market a “market ready” product and not to involve too much in making a product market ready! 
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