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Search Engine Optimization Wins Over User Centered Design  

:: Thursday, May 12, 2005 ::

As the two industries mesh together and find common ground that benefits them both, there comes this surprise news piece by Senior CNET editor, Molly Wood, called Is search ruining the Web?.

This isn't the same old blather about how search engine marketing ruins creative, user centered web design.

Rather, it claims the ultimate goal for web sites is search engine rank and nothing else, including revenue, end users, business goals, and site functionality matter.

If the only sites on the Internet were about Viagra, casinos and sex toys, I'd agree. But, I can't apply this theory to other highly competitive industries, because though many of them reach out for more calculated, so called "black hat" SEO methods, these sites still care about their site mechanics and more importantly, their online visitors.

Molly Wood writes:

"If Google tweaks its algorithms just a little bit, thousands of Web sites either have a very good or a very bad day. Search is the big dog; and it, more than standards, usability, or even aesthetics, drives the evolution of Web site design.


"Basically, there's a natural friction between the way people think Web sites should be designed, and the way they almost have to be designed in order to make it in the race for page rankings. And in such a battle, design for search engines are destined to win, because it's just bad business to ignore a dog that size."

I wondered what folks would think about this, so I showed the article to Cre8asiteforums in the thread It's the SEO that counts, not user centered design (*no need to register to view thread). Some of the comments include:

"Bad business is forcing rank for a web site that sucks. Sooner or later, the web site will need to earn its reputation by satisfied customers and productive traffic, not satisfied SERPs."

"IMHO, the article is brilliant in that it probably says exactly what CNET's audience wants to hear, but less than great because it asks a question "Is search ruining the Web?" and then doesn't answer it. I am no more convinced that the title is true than before I started reading, but then I did read it."

"While it bases its premise upon search harming the experience of a site, there's some bad information about usability going on here."

"Usability now seems to be part of the new white. You are VASTLY overestimating the 'needs' of your users ...they simply (and lazily) want the path of least resistance."

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 5/12/2005 11:23:00 AM

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