Usability and Findability

We’re excited to be working with a new client — a local arts organization that has been an important part of our lives for a couple of decades. In our conversation yesterday, the individual we’re working with there said, “We built the site to make it easy for people to buy tickets when they went there. We weren’t thinking about someone in Australia looking for something to do when they vacation here in six months.”

We get that. And Google’s official line is that you should just make a great site and trust Google to show it to your customers. The arts center did that, and it worked well for them. Their traffic has risen steadily over the years, they have thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and they haven’t had to think about SEO at all.

Now things have changed.

When the site was built, the whole situation was different, online and in our town. The population here has just about doubled since then. Other important arts venues have been built and a world class art museum is opening nearby. The arts center has gained a level of prominence that causes other sites to compete directly with them online. They even have some local competition. Ticket reselling sites have arisen and become an issue affecting the patrons of the arts center, as well as the arts center’s online visibility.

Has your business been affected by factors in your industry, the internet experience, or the world at large? Many businesses now have online competition when they used to rely on being the only place in town that could do what they did. Others now have access to a larger and more diverse clientele than they used to have.

Thomas Friedman said companies in the 21st century have to be adaptable. Things change fast and we have to be able — and willing — to do the same. If your organization is of a stature that allowed you to dominate search naturally in the past and that has now changed, it’s time to be more assertive about search engine optimization.

That doesn’t mean that you have to give up usability. A good SEO strategy won’t damage the experience of your site’s users or the convenience of your website for your organization. The goal is always to make your site communicate really well with both humans and search engines.

And if your website is new, your company is new, and you’re just tired of waiting for the search engines to notice how great your site is? You can also be assertive — even aggressive — about SEO without hindering the usability of your site. Take all changes that would have a negative impact on your visitors off the table.

Usability and findability are both good goals, and they can coexist. It doesn’t have to be usability vs. findability.







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