SEO has long been one of the most-discussed topics in the web industry, and responsive web design has recently joined it as a hot topic. These are very different subjects, but they both have complex relationships with the concept of user experience. Ignoring or oversimplifying that relationship, in either case, is a mistake that is sadly made far too often.
SEO and User Experience
SEO is all about tweaking websites for search engines. Employed badly, this often means that user experience suffers as design and content increasingly focus on search engines instead of people. In extreme cases, the result is a website that is found by many people, and puts almost all of them off immediately.
However, SEO and user experience do not have to be in conflict or even form a balancing act. There are some very significant areas where good SEO and good UX manage to neatly intersect. One of the best examples is navigation. For search engines, that have strict crawl budgets and may only index a limited number of pages, it is best to provide site maps and use clear navigation. This also significantly enhances the experience of the user. Simple, clear navigation and access to a site map indexing all pages makes it easy for them to move around the site and find exactly what they are looking for. In other words, improving one area benefits user experience and SEO at once.
Content is an area where UX and SEO often come into conflict, when in fact they could work well together. A surprising number of webmasters and even some self-proclaimed SEO experts still feel the need to stuff as many keywords as possible into every paragraph. The result is, at best, a very outdated SEO strategy that is more likely to get them penalised in results than rewarded. For users, the effect is even worse. It is best to aim for a natural density, and remember that overdoing keywords does a lot more harm than under doing them. Agency Inc who are one London based company I would recommend as they can help you if you have any questions:).
Responsive Web Design
While SEO often comes into conflict with UX, responsive web design is generally (and rightly) hailed as a good thing. It means that users experience a site optimally no matter what device they are using. It also encourages a mobile first approach that promotes principles such as minimalism and clarity which work well on traditional devices as well as smartphones.
However, the fact that UX and responsive design sit so well together sometimes means that the relationship between the two is oversimplified. People approach it on the assumption that responsiveness automatically means a good user experience.
Having single site for all devices, though, can create a few new principles, largely aimed at making sure the experience really is optimal on small screens. For example, it’s a good idea to ensure that no two links appear too close together, which can make it difficult to choose the right one on a touch screen.
Delivering the same code to all devices also makes it difficult to predict performance. Even if a site offers a great experience on all devices in the office, consider further testing. Specifically, consider testing offsite using a mobile data connection to ensure that it still performs acceptably as Paul from 720 Digital mentions in his blog.