A website is a very complex array of lines of code written in a given programming language, rendered visual by your browser. Basically, it’s lines and lines of text.
Trained designers pay attention to the syntax that runs behind a site. Self proclaimed designers oftentimes don’t really care. They tend to focus only on what the eye can see and work solely on the visual aspect.
What does it mean for you if your site isn’t properly coded? Well, for one, coding is very important in the Search Engine Optimization process. Writing Code without considering its proper role is sort of like building a home on a wonky, unstable foundation.
Programming languages are constantly evolving; make sure your designer is evolving with them. In recent years, a lot of the old HTML tags were rendered obsolete. Nowadays, CSS is master!
How can you know if your designer is keeping up with the times? One of the easiest way to figure out if he/she is a dinosaur is to look at the code behind your site. To do so, right click on your page, and do “view source”. Does the code refer to a .css files? Do you see <div> tags? That’s good. Divs are now the standard way to build sites properly. Tags such as <table>, <tr>, <td> were the old school way of doing things and are no longer supported in HTML5. They were deprecated in HTML 4.01. Seeing this once or twice in the code is not the end of the world, but if you see it repeatedly, you may want to get a second opinion. Tableless design will allow for better accessibility — think different mobile devices — bandwidth savings and ease of mainainability.
If you are in the market for a designer, don’t let dazzling designs fool you. Too many web designers think of Search Engine Optimization as an afterthought, something you do when all is done and looking pretty when in fact, it should be considered from the get-go.