Our friends at W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), the body which looks after web standards, was once squarely behind the XHTML 2.0 standard. They wanted the web to be strictly standardized. However, browser vendors observed was that very few web developers actually developing XHTML to the correct standard, if they were even doing it all! So, the standard realistically had no relevance. Thus, a real-world evolution of HTML was called for.
A cute little W3C/HTML5 logo
One which would ensure that current web developement realities were accommodated. For example, many coders forget a tag, and that is forgiven by a browser. So, all these things had to be taken care of as an evolution of HTML. That’s why Opera, Mozilla and Apple came together to form a group called the WHATWG (WHAT working group) and they came up with a standard called Web Application 1.0, which was the defining moment of HTML5. The developer community was behind HTML5 instead of XHTML 2.0. The W3C saw the writing on the wall and then stated they would discontinue their work on XHTML 2.0 and will adopt HTML5 as new version of HTML. This is how the W3C adopted HTML5, which they originally opposed. Basically, they saw it was popular with developers, so they adopted it as the next step in HTML’s evolution.
A clear example of Darwinian theory in action.
Almost everyday (thankfully in the current economic climate) we get calls to the Digital Orchard office requesting our SEO services to help improve a business website’s search engine rankings. However, after briefly reviewing these sites, in many cases it becomes immediately clear that the site requires a complete usability makeover before it is optimized for search engine rankings.
Not what a cash strapped business owner looking for improved search rankings wants to hear but nevertheless, a fact. These business owners are typically running an SME and looking to purchase a service that will get them near instant visibility in Google. You just get us the traffic and we’ll take it from there is the assumption. However, SEO/SEM without good usability is akin to inviting people around to your house for dinner and serving them porridge. Despite your polite phone manner and cordial invite, they are unlikely to return for seconds.
A bowl of porridge, yesterday
The solution in this scenario is not to invite more people to your house for dinner and hope they come back, but to serve something a little bit more appetizing (apologies to those members of the ‘Porridge Appreciation Society‘ Facebook group. I am glad ye found each other though).
So I’m sure that by now you can see where I’m going with this rather weak analogy. While search engine optimisation and marketing are important, sometimes your internet marketing budget is better spent making your website more user friendly.
By identifying and fixing your website’s usability issues, you can sell more of your products and services with less traffic. Once you are able to increase your conversion rates, every euro spent on SEM & SEO will be more effective and have a much bigger impact on your bottom line.
Q. Which is more important SEO or Usability?
A. Usability, everytime.