The unspoken debate between traditionally trained web designers (like yours truly) and SEO consultants (like yours truly) is between having a “pretty” website - one that looks really good, really cool, really….whatever your choice of descriptors happens to be, versus a website that gets a S--T ton of traffic.
I doubt that either camp would discount the other’s point of view entirely. In other words, I doubt an SEO expert would ADVISE you to have a crappy looking website and I doubt many web designers would debate the fact you want people to FIND that pretty website.
Beauty or Optimization?
As a person that has worked extensively in both disciplines, I would say that, for me personally, I see it as a 50.5 / 49.5 split, in favor of…..? Wait for it........
The site that can get lots of traffic. Ugh.
Now, even as I typed the above sentence, my stomach got a little queasy because, I am NOT going to lie, I LIKE THINGS THAT LOOK really good! Dammit, do I EVER like things that look good! Artwork of all types. Beautiful landscaping. Sunsets. Mountain ranges. Beautiful women. In fact, in my opinion a beautifully designed website IS a work of art in its own right.
But at the end of the day, yes, I concede that if your aim is to be successful online (and by that I mean make money) you do NOT have to have the world’s most badass looking website. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And, though it kills me to admit it, beauty is largely subjective and a matter of opinion. Web traffic is specific and measurable. There I said it.
Now that that is off my chest -
Now that I have purged a little - I get to take the slant that I WANT TO TAKE on this topic -which is this:
A nice looking website IS STILL IMPORTANT!
Incredibly important, in my opinion. And this is especially true if you are looking to have an online business that sells or promotes expensive products or services! Hint: Affiliate marketers promoting high ticket items.
Would you expect to go to the Apple website and see a hyped up, one pager that is 7 miles long to scroll to the bottom? With endless iterations of: “But wait, there’s more!!!” and streams of moronic sales jargon with price numbers that are slashed through? No. You get a website that is well designed, sleek, easy to navigate and, MOST importantly, designed to attract the type of customer that Apple wants - the type that can AFFORD their products. Quality attacts quality. There is just no way around it.
So...why should your website be any different?
Yes, do everything within your power, skill set and budget to get traffic to your website. And then do more!
But once you get people there, don’t make them gag and leave!
And remember, you shouldn’t have to choose either one or the other anyway. If you are taking yourself and your business seriously, you will make sure to have BOTH!
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