I’ve been using the term ‘Google’ as a personification lately, and until today I hadn’t realised just how often I think or speak as such. For those not in the know about my job, I’m in the business of making websites. Most of my sites involve some degree of Search Engine Optimisation (or Optimization for you yankee’s, or site-make-get-traffics for you Bernard Blacks out there.) and its been getting more and more ingrained into my thought process than ever lately.
So much so that I’ve been saying things like “Google won’t like that ALT tag” or “Google can’t read flash” quite a bit.
How did this come about? How did my job go from “Thats what my customer wants cos it looks pretty” to “Uhhh, Google says no”? I mean, of course I compromise and try to get the best of everything (see my previous post about the balancing act) but since when did Google have a say in what I, or my clients, get from their website? What business is it of theirs if they want nothing but flash and thousands of animated gifs, background sounds, multiple domains and HTTP Refreshes?
I guess it boils down to something I picked up in high school, one of the rare things that sticks with you years later; If you’re a huge company that others rely on, you can make them do whatever you want. It works with the likes of Woolies and Coles, and those giant department stores in the states as well – they make their suppliers use a certain type of barcode, or deliver in certain quantities, or even without their own labels on their products.
We’re also seeing this with web standards – now don’t get me wrong, I love standards. They make the headache of cross browser compatibility more bearable even though we all know it will never fully go away. I am not a fan however of the peer pressure in the web community about how to write a site. Yes there are best practices, but they don’t always apply. Yes div’s and css makes some (okay, a lot) of things easier to manage on a site, but it’s not the only way to go (also comes back to google – do you think divs and css would be so prevalent if google parsed pages differently?). I haven’t made a table based design for a good year now, since I got my head around div based designs, but that doesn’t mean that a site I make will be inherently better or rank higher than a table designed site.
My point is that when you make your next website, just think of how many decisions you make due to your own mind rather than your interpretation of rules set by big companies or groups? How many of them would you change if one of those entities didn’t exist?
…incidentally, I’m waiting for the generation of websites to come around with graphics and text melted together, perhaps all as vector points or something, and all a site will be is a database (in XML format), one interpreter page, and one style page.