What is the most important aspect of your website?

Is it the code? The content? Layout and design? How about the color scheme? Number of cats-doing-people-things pictures?

You probably knew your answer right away. If you are a designer, of course you know the site design is the most critical. Every SEO knows that your site is nothing without the appropriate meta data. Showing a copywriter a site with poorly written content is like pouring lemon juice in their eyes.

Now stop and think about it for a minute. The truth is, the single most important part of your site isn’t any one of those things, but the way they are combined into the overall user experience. Who cares how perfectly crafted the site content is if no one ever reads it? You may show up in your industry’s number one search position, but when a customer clicks and sees your ugly, ugly site, chances are they’ll bounce from your site faster than Apple can sell a new iPhone. Choosing between design, content, and optimization is like choosing to be either good looking, intelligent, or popular.

With that being said, finding the balance between design and optimization is a common problem in the internet marketing world. Here’s an example: A company commissions a new website. The designers want the site to look super-awesome-sweet, and can’t be troubled with all that crap like “keyword placement” and “making sure search engines can crawl it.” Then the company hires an SEO to get them ranking with the big kids. The SEO wants to drastically change the design, because having an H1 tag with every keyword will instantly bring in SO MUCH TRAFFIC! Eventually, the company is so fed up with the bickering that they are forced to move their entire advertising budget to hot air balloons emblazoned with their logo.

That doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to sacrifice good design or readable copy for good rankings. In fact, those things are becoming more heavily weighted in ranking algorithms as Google gets better at recognizing design elements and context. Nothing is better for your rankings (or your sales!) than a site with a great user experience.

We at Gravitate like to think of ourselves as very balanced and level headed individuals. In all of our discussions, business related or otherwise, we carefully weigh every possibility and come to a decision that best answers every need. For that reason, we have an (amazing) in-house design and content team, who works closely (like 20 feet away) with our (also amazing) marketing team. We get you to show up in the rankings, sound brilliant, and look good too!

Next time you feel like you have to compromise design to get rankings (or vice-versa) step back and look at the bigger picture. There is probably a way to do both. And that way is most likely a robust cats-doing-people-things section.