UI (User Interface) The Junction of Web Design & SEO

The next generation of SEO will intertwine deeply with Web Design to create content that is engaging, visually stunning and most of all, accessible.

UI (User Interface) The Junction of Web Design & SEO

Posted by Myles Golden on Oct 26, 2016

Let's see how User Interface plays a vital role in Optimization.

Technology is always evolving, and it seems that web technology is growing more advanced with each passing day. In 2017, web design is expected to focus exactly on the user's experience while also providing new and engaging opportunities for SEO that don't rely wholeheartedly on keywords or link strategies. The next generation of SEO will intertwine deeply with web design to create content that is engaging, visually stunning and most of all, accessible. Most designers are already looking at the end user's experience to develop a better SEO strategy. The next step is to build a web interface that gives users content that they want to read while also providing interactive web design. These are just a few ideas where SEO will likely meet web design this year.

A Review of Past Web Design Trends

For one thing, designers were choosing to go with more web content on one page with a better utilization of white space. In the past, Parallax storytelling design was one of the major trends. It lead users directly to the content that marketers want them to see.

However, parallax design did not always benefit SEO strategies. In the past one-page websites were often not able to compete in other search term rankings, which caused some of the best SEO practices to go unused. There were ways to utilize parallax design while adding in multiple pages of content. The idea that parallax was so essential to the user interface is because so many end users today are looking at content on cell phones and tablets. They would rather be able to scroll down a page than click through multiple links. Still, the best web design incorporated a bit of one-page parallax design and multiple pages of SEO content as well.

Responsive design was another major web design trend that revved up majorly in 2013. More users started to use search functions on their smart phones and tablets. They browsed stores and products with their phones, and they conducted all kinds of research with their phones for the 2013 holiday shopping season before heading to the store to make a purchase. Responsive design is key to a friendly user interface for 2017 and beyond. Mobile browsing has quickly surpassed desktop browsing.

In addition, Google values responsive web design as a factor in determining a site's ranking. Google is very concerned about the user experience and looks at a website's design for its capacity to be simple, authoritative and useful to their users. To that end, websites must have responsive design in order to meet the demands of both mobile and desktop users. Responsive design also makes it easier to have one URL that you use for both mobile and desktop sites. SEO strategies benefit from one-site responsive design because you don't have to dilute your links in order to advertise both. You only have to drive links to one page instead of two.

However, one of the issues that faces responsive design SEO is that mobile users will browse for content differently than if they were on their desktop. It can make SEO strategies very limiting when trying to target certain keywords that are more attuned to mobile users.

What Are the New Web Design Trends?

If you take a look at the web design trends over the years, you can see one thing that is common, and that's simplicity. The newest 2017 web design trends is probably Single Page Applications (SPAs). Single Page Applications are Web apps that load a single HTML page and dynamically update that page as the user interacts with the app. SPAs use JavaScript to create fluid and responsive Web apps without constant page reloads. One of main reasons that Single Page Applications are becoming more popular is they allow to offer a more native app like experience.

Single Page Applications capitalize on this trend and push code to the background of web page architecture. The default website architecture is to serve up a bunch of different pages and link them together with a navigational structure. These pages may be backed by static files or a server generating the content dynamically. In these type of scenarios, the organization of the HTML content drives the architecture and JavaScript is executed to add functionality to the page. With a SPA, the HTML file may only exist to launch the code in the JavaScript files. In a way, SPAs fully complete the transformation of the browser from a tool for viewing content into a platform for running applications.

SPAs have two main benefits for users which makes it one of the upcoming 2017 web trends:

  • The first benefit is removing that annoying page change when you click on a link. In a Single Page Application, the navigation controls and main interface typically stay on the view state when you click a link. In return only the piece of content you want changed actually gets changed.
  • The second benefit is the massive speed boost you get from a lighter server response (as it uses the clients browser) for the chunk of content versus a whole page loading. The lighter response transmits across the network faster and the browser can incorporate the new piece of content more quickly than redrawing an entirely new page.

Create the Best First Impression

Google is constantly weeding out sites that do not meet today's standards of web design as it relates to overall user interface, utility, accessibility, visuals, content, relevance and loading time. Frankly, if your site loads slow and looks like it was designed in 2009, you're probably not going to impress any users or search engines.

Graphics and interactive design will make websites more attractive to users. However, you have to use graphics appropriately. Large typography graphics may look stunning, but search bots won't know anything about your site if you choose this route, which is why you have to be careful about how you use type and graphics together on your site. SEO is as much about the look of a site as it is what's beneath the surface, which means your text and coding must also improve your SEO.

You can use "img alt" tags, meta information and SEO-friendly URLs to enhance sights with lots of graphics in order to impress your users and please the search engine bots.

Will Single Page Applications Change Everything?

All web designers should be familiar with HTML5 and JavaScript, which has allowed for greater interaction and motivational web design. However, it has also been difficult to incorporate SEO with HTML5 websites since it depends largely on JavaScript. While a site may have beautiful visual appeal thanks to HTML5, it uses JavaScript, which makes it difficult for search engine bots to understand the content.

The solution to this for marketers has been to show static content that also represents HTML5 content, thus allowing bots to crawl your site and add your page to the index easily. If you use an SPA for your main site, you have to take special steps for search engine optimization (SEO) so that crawlers will see an appropriate version of your page.

So Does Less Really Equal More?

You might be thinking that all of the signs are pointing to a lack of content and a focus on visually appealing sites that have multiple points of interactive design. In fact, Sheena Iyengar from Columbia Business School research conducted a study and found that Americans make 70 choices per day. If you have a website with a simple design that provides clear choices, you might be one of those choices that a consumer makes.

Since people are overwhelmed with choices in today's "the Internet is everywhere" society, website design that focuses on fewer categories and subcategories may have more persuasion for the consumer. By providing narrower choices, web designers can actually give users exactly what they want without overwhelming them.

In order to decide what type of content to cut from your site, you should consider the latest changes made through Google RankBrain while also looking at the performance rating for your pages. You can simplify your front page design and make your site more visually appealing with a modern flat design that focuses on bold headlines and a few categories.

Control of Choice and Web Design

As shown by Iyengar's study and the general decline of complicated web design, there is evidence that shows consumers want to feel in control. They value consistency. In simple terms, when you offer too many choices to a user, you make it more difficult for them to find what they want even though you have presented so many options. The choice is then for the user to go find something else that's simpler to use and control.

At the end of the day, it's the user experience and data that will create the best websites. Users shouldn't have to navigate through too many pages to find what they are looking for. They should not have to look at a page that is too chaotic and not specific enough to meet their needs.

For SEO experts, keywords must always match a landing page exactly. If you supply a link to a page that doesn't directly relate to the keyword, you will likely have a high bounce rate and create distrust with your users. You should sort through pages by bounce rate then and look at the content of each compared to the keyword and user experience. What is the user looking for that is not provided by pages with high bounce rates? This will lead you to a better idea of how to optimize these pages and create a simple design to make the content shine. You can always use Bing to check keywords since Google has taken away its keyword tool.

Designing Above the Fold

You may believe that web design all comes down to the large hero area at the top of your website or what's above the fold, but you can't cram everything into this space. Newspapers adopted the "above the fold" design where every headline and big image had to go at the top of the front page. It's not that way with web design.

While your front page should have an eye-catching graphic or bold typography at the top, you don't have to put all of your links, content, sidebars and animations above 600 pixels. Your SEO has to spread down through page because users are always scrolling to find out more information. It's important to utilize space intelligently and allow for white space to bring attention to the big bold headlines, bullet points and stunning images as they go down the page as well.

You have plenty of space for content above and below the fold. You can do a lot more with your user interface if you create longer pages that still deliver content while also providing white space and spectacular graphics.

Getting the Higher Page Rank

As you design pages with the user experience at the forefront of your mind, it's important to remember the reasonable surfer patent put forth by Google. This patent states that the most essential links and links that are clicked most often will create a higher internal page rank.

If you plan to change your website's navigation or if you ever move links to less important pages, you will likely lose your ranking. There are many choices that will help and hurt SEO as new Google algorithm changes have suggested. It's a precarious slope to walk if you are not paying attention to ranking algorithm trends and talking to SEO experts about the future. Accessibility in website design is the most important aspect to remember.

Things to Avoid

There are some design elements that will not help your SEO and user experience. Sliders are on their way out because they are largely ignored and do not provide the user with enough information.

Ajax is also being removed even though it creates attractive user experiences. It's just not friendly for search engines. If you do use Ajax, it should be more selective.

Large pages, bulky graphics and slow loading videos can also contribute to bad web design and user experience while providing very little for SEO. Complicated code that focuses on external DIVs will also be a problem for users who want to see content as quickly as possible.

You should be extra selective about the scripts that you use on your web pages. You can find a balance between scripts and making your website optimized for users and search engine bots. For example, you could embed all of your scripts into HTML to avoid most of these problems.

Today's SEO design must go hand in hand with the user experience. The ultimate user interface will allow users to find simple content and click on what they were looking for just by landing on the front page of your site. Content strategies must also focus on content that is dynamic, original and engaging with audiences to truly capture and hold their attention. This is just as important as a high quality web design.

Is a Single Page Application Right for Me?

More than likely. It’s the natural evolution of web programming and it pairs perfectly with mobile device support options like responsive design. If you’d like a more customized answer, it's as easy as clicking the icon on the bottom right of your screen and starting a conversation. We’ve got plenty of experience in developing Single Page Applications. See how we can help create a Single Page Application for your industry utilizing our own isomorphic web app technology.

Tell us about your project

Do you have a project you think we will love? Then please complete our short project contact form.

Start your project
<%= '<' %>script src="/app/vendor.dll.js"<%= '>' %><%= '<' %>/script<%= '>' %>