A very interesting debate on the HighRankings Forum has developed into a full blown blog post at Search Engine Guide. It's an old debate that I've tackled personally and definitely deserves mention here.
The question is presented in a poll format: should designers understand SEO to some extent?
The answer, according to the majority of the users (86% as of this writing), is that coders should, at a basic level, have an understanding of core search engine optimization concepts.
One idea is comes down to why websites are being created to begin with. People typically don't want to create websites without entry points from search engines. At the minimum, they do want search engine friendliness. Thus, any designer should have these elements in mind.
Some have opted for a more bureaucratic means of website design with different roles being assigned to different individuals. For example, the "designer" is not necessarily the coder, but the coder should still possess minimal SEO skills. Now if the designer is purely versed in Flash or Photoshop, he's not the man for the task. Sometimes these tasks need to be delegated among a team of individuals who all have different roles. In all cases, communication is vital with all participants: designers, coders, and of course, the client.
I come from a different background and one that is echoed by member Alan C. Some web designers simply don't understand that there's an element of marketing to increase business/brand awareness. It's important, then, for both sides to effectively communicate the needs and wants while the website is being created and to avoid any assumptions. It's heavily agreed upon that search engine traffic is pretty vital for many businesses.
The really detailed discussion continues at HighRankings Forum.
This post was composed on October 2nd and was scheduled for publication on October 5th.