Developers, Designers, SEOs: Why We Need All Three and How They Differ

Amanda DiSilvestro
Amanda DiSilvestro Online Content Editor, Higher Visibility

Posted on July 20th 2013

Developers, Designers, SEOs: Why We Need All Three and How They Differ

SEO and Design

If you haven’t figured it out already, SEO is not the easiest industry to manage. There are not one or two tasks you need to complete and then you move on to the next. Instead, SEO is a set of rules that you want to follow, it’s ongoing, and it’s constantly changing. You have to keep up with the latest updates and come up with your own unique strategy. For most companies, this strategy will involve a designer, developer, and SEO expert.

For those who are new to the SEO game, this might seem redundant. Designers can often do a lot of development work and vice versa, and in fact some websites can get away with hiring one person to do it all. Every designer and developer knows a little bit about SEO, and they are the ones who need to make SEO changes. However, for the majority of companies all three are needed to succeed. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to ask yourself: What is the difference between a designer and developer, and why should I hire both in addition to an SEO team?

Differences Between Developers, Designers, and SEOs

Designers and developers are actually notoriously known to have a competitive nature toward the other. Companies quite often micromanage these two positions yet don’t fully understand their differences or have knowledge of best practices for either job, and this can cause some animosity and problems in a department.

If this describes you as a business owner, below are a few of the tasks that each specialize in and why it’s important to understand their differences:

  • Designer. A designer looks at a website from the perspective of color and layout. It’s all about what looks good and works for readers. All the colors, content, and photos have to flow together.
  • Developer. A developer will look at a website by using coding knowledge. They want to see what is functional for readers and sometimes have to make changes based on what a designer sees fit. They take what a designer says and determine if it’s really functional.

So where does an SEO expert fit into all this? It is true that designers and developers have to have some sort of understanding and knowledge of SEO. After all, you can design and code your website in a particular way to benefit the SEO of the site, and in fact the way you start establishing any SEO is through good design, usability, code standards, and web layout and structure. What SEO professionals do, then, is this:

  • SEO Experts. SEOs look at the changes and updates happening in the SEO industry and ask developers and designers to make changes accordingly (along with changes that they can make themselves, such as content changes). It is there job to know how a website should adapt.

Why You Find Conflict With Designers, Developers, and SEOs

It’s all about how your success is measured. All three work for different metrics and have different goals. SEO experts look at both a designer and a developer’s work from the perspective of the search engines, and in many cases this involves talking to designers and developers about making changes to their already “completed” work.

The biggest problem with these three positions is the idea that designers and developers work often seems finished after they have viewed the website from the color or coding perspective. Because this is how their success is measured, SEO advice is sometimes put on the back burner and considered low priority. It’s the SEOs that often get in trouble for poor rankings on a SERP, not the designers and developers.

The Solution to Your Developer, Designer, SEO Problems

In the end, it all comes down to each position knowing and understanding what the other positions do. Developers need to understand why SEOs cannot always give them advice before a website is launched, SEOs should not drastically change the look of a piece of content without discussing with the designer, and designers need to understand why sometimes their really cool visual ideas just aren’t functional. Furthermore, company owners have to understand this dynamic in order to manage the department correctly and help alleviate some of the competition.

Of course, this does not describe every designer, developer and SEO (in fact I would go as far as to say it only describes a few). Some departments have things down pat, and more and more are beginning to understand and respect the work of the other.

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor, Higher Visibility

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility.com. Connect with HigherVisibility on Google+ and Twitter to learn more!

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Comments

Manish Bhalla
Posted on July 22nd 2013 at 2:33AM

It’s a great post and nails most of the points but I don't agree with the statement;

"Designers and developers are actually notoriously known to have a competitive nature toward the other"

Both designers and developers are a completely different species and in no way cross path. As you yourself stated, designers take care of the visual part of a website while developers are driven by code. 

Even if they do at rare occasions, notoriety & competition is not involved. I know because I manage a team of expert designers and developers.

Otherwise, it is a good post and I am a great fan.   

Jayden Chu
Posted on July 22nd 2013 at 5:38AM

I had to agree. These three should always cooperate and should see one view point and that is the goal of having higher page rank on Google. Communication between these people is one great factor of the success as well as the downfall of the lead generation process; a make or break thing. Nicely done Amanda. I shared it on G+ for the benefit of everyone. :)