The following is an article from a guest author, Tadeusz Szewczyk (you can call him "Tad"). And yes, I had to cut-paste his name to ensure I spelled it right. Tad's an SEO consultant, web developer and author based in Germany. The article has been edited slightly. You can safely assume that all the brilliant stuff is Tad's and the rest is mine. - Mike Volpe
Many people assume that design and usability belong together. The same people, especially if they are designers or usability experts will not be as quick to acknowledge that in web design and development a third discipline should be embraced: SEO.
Search engine optimization is still largely considered to be the antithesis of design and usability. It's understandable for people outside the SEO industry who only recognize SEO if it's badly done on keyword stuffed, almost empty or made for Adsense sites. On the other hand still some self declared SEOs do not consider design and usability to be as important as link building or social media optimization.
It's a major mistake. All three disciplines belong together. Should you worry about design and usability or SEO? Yes. They are not mutually exclusive and are in fact, complementary when done correctly.
Design, usability and SEO are different aspects of the same process: Making a website attractive for the user.
The key for all three is simplicity. With a simple interface, a clean HTML/CSS structure and content oriented uncluttered design without too many graphics you will please both Google and the user, but that's of course not enough.
The SEO industry has in recent months shifted it's focus to a more holistic approach to website optimization. Many online publications have written about design, usability and SEO as one. I have chosen the best 7 design+usability+SEO articles that you must read in order to grasp the concepts of modern website optimization. Many of the articles below do not use the word "design" but they deal with it implicitly. The numbers signify the order in which you should read the articles to get an understanding
1) With the announcement of Wikisari some people once again predicted "the end of SEO", this article, written in February is a good introduction into the shifting focus of 2007: Wikiasari: The convergence of usability and SEO?
2) In April User Effect already attempted to coin a new term for this combined approach: SUO: Search and User Optimization
3) In June Andrew Faulkner of Fadtastic compiled a list of 25 factors important for a successful website that take heed to all basic aspects of web design: 25 Ways To Improve Your Site Today
4) While Fadtastic took care of the basics Improve the Web took also care of the intermediate methods and the reasoning behind them: Using usability to improve site profit
5) Kim Krause Berg explained user expectations that must be met: SEO with Usability: What The People Want
6) Improve the Web exemplifies what a shopping cart should look and work like taking apart the failure of Amazon's "one click purchase": 7 Shopping Cart Tips That Even Amazon Could Use
7) SEO authority SearchEngineWatch goes even so far to state that usability comes first and SEO second: Usability and SEO. Which comes First?
Make sure to design with both usability and SEO in mind and do not treat them as two completely different parts of web site development. Combining design, usability and SEO drives more visitors, a better user experience and thus higher profits.
If you enjoyed the article, you can find more of Tad's writings at SEO 2.0.