Some great websites rank but have horrendous code. At Cre8asite Forums, a webmaster has been given the task of redesigning the website and cleaning up the messy code and adding standard SEO elements (robots.txt, sitemap, external CSS, etc.). However, since the website is ranking well (after all, it's being updated fairly frequently and the content is good), is there a risk in taking on such a project? Will a redesign kill the rankings?
Well, it all depends. One Cre8asite member says that if the site structure remains relatively the same, nothing should really change substantially.
But what else? You should take the time to educate the client. After all, the site has been around for over 10 years in this case and it will be extremely important to you (and your client) to learn some SEO basics. As EGOL says, the client knows a lot more about her topic than you, the SEO, does. Teaching her will only reap benefits:
In my opinion the best SEOs help their clients develop into better webmasters. There is more to gain by teaching than keeping secrets.
Indeed, she can gain a lot and your life will be a lot easier if you have someone who is eager and willing to take on your recommendations.
Forum discussion continues at Cre8asite Forums.