Jul 22, 2008

The Tyranny of Search

Few things cause creatives to cringe at the thought of a digital future like the words "search engine optimization."

It's not that they don't want their clients work to show up first in the Googleverse. It's just that the rules of search optimization seem to run counter to the rules of creativity. As someone recently pointed out to me "it's like food. Anything that tastes good is bad for you."

He did have a point: many of the things that can make a site look and feel cool and creative (Flash and Ajax, for example) are the mortal enemies of SEO. And while the terms "search optimized" and "deadly dull" are far from synonymous, it does seem rather cruel that many of the most advanced web design tools wind up being a net negative to the overall goal of the site. And crueler yet that many creatives hear the phrase "we need to prioritize search" as "we need to remove anything remotely cool or creative from the site immediately."

Besides which, the rules just seem so random. I mean I know the basics and from a programming standpoint they make sense. But from a creative standpoint, it's as if you said "TV spots that rely on dissolves to move from one scene to the next have zero recall." None of the rules seem to take aesthetics into consideration.

So why can't someone make a web design tool that does both? That lifts us out of HTML flatness, is easy to develop for and that appeases the gods of search.

The dividends would be enormous from both a financial and design perspective. Not to mention user experience.

Any takers?

UPDATE: Noah Brier sent me this link to a great article on SEO that addresses much of what we've been discussing here. Great enough for me to stick it in the body of the post, rather than the comment section.

UPDATE 2: "Link to a great article on SEO"(above) now working. Sorry about that.

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