It is about two years that I have been studying copywriting, SEO, SEM, HTML/CSS, usability, accessibility and all that and I noticed a couple of interesting things.
The learning process
As it always happens when learning something, some things evolved and some things remained constant. A lot of information (articles, tips on forums, blog posts, etc) illuminate a certain aspect of website optimization and you either become more confident in your current knowledge or update it with the new information.
I have learned website optimization in several steps. First it was content. Guess that's why I am fairly good in writing (after two years of practice, I'd better be). Then it was on- and off-page search engine ranking factors, HTML/CSS, usability and accessibility.
What changed was the depth of knowledge in why some things work and some don't. What remained the same was the focus on filtering techniques that help improving website performance (speed and sales).
Funny thing is, though, that first I thought SEO was everything. The next thing I thought was Internet marketing. Then I thought website usability is the key. But what has everything of the above in common is website optimization.
Why website optimization? Anything that is aimed to improve (optimize) a website, be it from a SEO, marketing or usability point of view, is a website optimization technique. Pretty simple, eh?
What fascinates me for now is how everything settles down pretty precisely when you start calling the process of working on your site 'website optimization'. Sure, there may be purely web development things that you may need to do, but if your site is ready, everything you do to it is a process of improving your website, or website optimization.
So, is website optimization the next big thing or not?