In the early days of search, search engine optimization (SEO) was a constant struggle to get websites to rank properly because of design elements and programming that made it difficult to index them.

In the days of semantic search and AI-driven query-parsing algorithms most websites are powered by content management systems (CMS) that have a search-engine friendly architecture, make use of minimal amounts of javascript and try not to hide the content behind tabs.

But just because content is accessible doesn’t mean it’s SEO-friendly. Take the current love web designers have with Parallax Scrolling , the craze that started when Nike’s “Better World” website  hit the web back in 2011 and you begin to understand why endless scroll and long scroll pages are getting so much attention.

Now, all of these, are design elements that can actually attract and hold online visitor attention and lead to increased conversions, so just because a design may not necessarily be SEO-friendly, doesn’t mean it should be rejected out of hand. Particularly as bounce rate, visitor time on site and website links and citations are bonafide SEO signals which, in sufficient volume, may offset any other reservations.

The problems usually begin when design becomes the overriding characteristic of a website to the exclusion of all other considerations. At that point, SEO, branding and even marketing, considerations that ought to be baked-in, at the point of inception, creating a high-quality website that engages online visitors, serves company marketing needs, becomes a true representative of a brand’s values and ethos and still works in search, become annoyances that detract from the ‘beauty’ of the design by forcing compromises to be made.

This doesn’t mean that you need to reign in your designers and settle for an ‘ugly’, functional website.

source: Toyota.co.uk

The 4 Cs of Great Website Design

In the 21st century the 4Cs of great website design create a framework that includes all the necessary elements that go into a modern business. The 4Cs are: Communication, Cooperation, Coordination and Creation.

In brief this is what each of these involves:

  • Communication – This is a pivotal requirement both between client and website design provider and within the different teams that will work on the website. A good website serves the needs of the company’s corporate mission and vision and becomes the vehicle through which its different departments (marketing, sales, brand and reputation management, etc) amplify their message and make their respective tasks easier. By the same token every design element that is incorporated in the site should serve the tasks already mentioned and its importance should be clearly communicated to the client.
  • Cooperation – A client and a website design agency work together to the same common end: a great website that totally serves a business. Cooperation is required not just between these two entities but also between all the different teams or skilled experts working on the website design and the client’s teams whose needs will be served by it.
  • Coordination – Like any other project a website is subject to the same dynamic of timing, schedules, deadlines and potential bottlenecks. If the project is not managed correctly time slippage is inevitable and that frequently is the first step to scope creep as the client’s priorities change.
  • Creation – Whether it’s a fantastic work of art or a basic, functional website, a website design project is an act of creation. It has to be thought about carefully beforehand. Its structure managed, its logical basis soundly laid.

Not every website design project requires all 4Cs to be present and accounted for every second of the project’s duration. However those projects that overlook them, frequently run into problems from which they seldom recover.

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