A website is the base for all the online activities your business undertakes.
However, having a badly designed website can be worse than having no site at all. Running a successful online presence in Vietnam’s competitive environment, you need to adhere to the one and only commandment of design:
Form follows function.
The online environment in Vietnam often is colourful, confusing, cluttered and chaotic.
To set up a profitable website for your business in Vietnam, you need to think about the purpose first. What do you want to use your website for? Or rather, what will your customers do on your website?
Case 1: My customers just want to get some information about how to reach me.
In theory, a Facebook profile is enough for this purpose, but your own digital business card looks more professional. The other benefit is that when you own your own domain name, you can and should use it for your email address. For example email@example.com looks ten times better than firstname.lastname@example.org, right?
Case 2: My customers want some information about my company and our products/services.
A small website with a short introduction and one page per service or product, held together by an easy to use navigation is enough.
Case 3: I want to keep my customers up to date with promotions, events and company news.
This calls for a small content management system, short: CMS. A CMS is where you log in and change pages or add new posts. Usually people have a section of fixed pages on their website and an extra “blog” section, where customers can follow their updates. That’s the best option for restaurants.
Case 4: I want to sell my products online.
Shop plugins are available for every major content management system. These are easy to use, cheap and versatile. However, often it is not exactly what you imagine, so you can hire a developer to customise the product to your needs. Be careful though! Customers are entering sensitive data like credit card information, so make sure the security is top-notch. Nothing ruins your online reputation faster than a security leak.
Case 5: I want to be No. 1 and dominate the search results.
Now we are talking! The design still follows the function of your project, but create a code as slim as possible to make the pages load fast and efficient. It is also imperative to follow the prime online commandment here: Content is King.
In the past it was kinda easy to fool the search engines into ranking your site higher because you had your keywords included a hundred times per page. Nowadays programs like Google are much smarter and spamming will harm your business beyond repair. Your only chance is to create content the visitors love to read and recommend.
And for that you either have to be multi talented or you hire somebody. But beware, many companies are still stuck in 2005 and sell you generic content that gets you nowhere. Choose wisely and ALWAYS mind that a white face does not guarantee success!
This article is a bit different than the typical content I am posting, but please bear with me for this and several upcoming posts.
The writing actually has been commissioned by a publisher here in Saigon, but they decided to break our agreement by removing authorship credits from all past and current online articles, crediting the content to themselves in direct violation of our service agreement. They also don’t credit Creative Commons licensed images anymore as required by law – and as a logical consequence I reclaim my intellectual property here and now.