Now as much as ever, the web design industry and the SEO industry are intertwined. The question that arises anytime a business industry and a creative industry become so connected is whether the business side limits the creative side or not.
Most in the web design industry will agree that SEO shouldn’t limit web designers at all. SEO is important, but limiting art isn’t necessary.
One of the most important things for web designers and SEO professionals to be concerned about is load times. Lots of designers want to make amazing headers, but these lead to slow load times. There are sites where load times do matter less. Portfolio sites should have plenty of quality graphics of work, but in these instances SEO doesn’t matter.
For commercial websites however, fast load times are essential because customers will go elsewhere rather than wait.
For those that think standard navigation practices limit their artistic license, think about this. The job of a web designer isn’t just to create an aeshtetically pleasant site, but to make one that is also functional and user-friendly. Breadcrumbs and easily accessible navigation systems make users happy, and it allows them to see all of the well designed areas of the site.
Overall, if you aren’t designing overly flashy sites, SEO shouldn’t be limiting your abilities as a designer. The latest SEO practices rely on quality content, and the designer’s job is to to deliver this content is a good looking package. If anything, SEO guidelines will help you understand how to create a site your viewers will like.
For some more pros and cons of the relationship between SEO and web design, Rean Jean Uehara has a great article at 1stwebdesigner.