For the last 20 years, many Western companies have invested in China, but things have changed and many of them are moving to or at least opening new branches in other countries. Businesses looking for new markets, unexploited opportunities in other growing Asian markets both to hold down costs and to reduce over dependence on China are entering new emerging markets such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, ... Due to the language barrier and cultural differences, most companies that do business in Vietnam have found out that they must create their own localized version of their website if they want to target the local Vietnamese. These localized versions are not simply translated versions of the original websites, however. They need to be adapted, adjusted, tweaked to match the cultural backgrounds and browsing behaviors of the target audience in Vietnam.
There is no shortage of IT talents in Vietnam, in 2015 Cushman & Wakefield releases global comprehensive report which ranks Vietnam at the world’s premier destination for business process outsourcing. Two years passed, and Vietnam is still one of the top destinations for IT service outsourcing. In fact, several of the global top tech companies have opened offices in Vietnam to take advantage of the growing IT work force.
While the majority of the website in Vietnam is still 10 years behind the world with generic layout, unfriendly design, incompatible web pages, things are changing quickly. A number of business owners have realized that website is a useful tool, and a worthy investment to quickly reach potential clients. In Vietnam, there are 140 million mobile cellular subscriptions. That’s 1.5 cellphones for every one person. Retailers in Vietnam are selling more smartphones than feature phones, with the number of smart phone users quickly approaching 30% of the population. With cheap data plans and the new 4G coming, now it's time to go mobile in Vietnam and now it has never been easier (and competitive) to reach the audience online.
“ Website is quickly becoming an essential marketing channel for businesses in Vietnam. ”
The web design scene in Vietnam has also changed dramatically in these recent years. While a large number of businesses still have not realized the importance of brand building via website tools, the market now has quite a few web design agencies with world level creative teams. In fact, many of the best selling items on evantomarket are "Made in Vietnam".
A quick search can show a number of noteworthy web agencies in Vietnam (listed in no order), and you can see via their portfolio that most follow the style we described above.
Vietnamese companies do not invest in website design
Many websites in Vietnam look like they were made 10 years ago with busy, cluttered design and and terrible user experience. You may think this is limited to just small companies in Vietnam, and you are dead wrong. It seems like these businesses never use their own website and online services just to see how freaking difficult it is to navigate and use their sites.
“ This is the e-banking portal of BIDV, one of the biggest bank in Vietnam. You may notice the year in the screenshot, yes it still looks exactly the same after 7 years. ”
It is not limited to local companies only, however. The local website version of many internal brands in Vietnam leave a lot to be desired:
“ This is the website of PepsiCo (Pepsi) in Vietnam. ”
“ And here is the website of Unilever Vietnam. ”
In fact, in many cases the small players seem to invest more in the image of the website while the big guys don't see to find it necessary to put their effort in making a great online experience for their visitors.
Website design in Vietnam is largely impacted by its culture
If you have a chance to go to a local market in Vietnam, you can see the many colors it has. Vietnamese culture is strongly influenced by Chinese culture due to the history and close proximity of the two neighbor countries. This cultural background deeply affects how we pick and choose the color patterns when we work with our partners who want to target the Vietnam market. However, Vietnam also inherits and absorbs Western styles during its journey to search for independence and modernization. This specific type of cultural mix presents us with barriers and challenges but also opportunities and chances to experiment and discover new things.
Most web design agencies in Vietnam are taking inspiration from Western style design, especially the American style design in specific. This comes at no surprise as most of the world leading websites come from the US and the Vietnamese people are more associated with the US (Hollywood) culture. Western European design style is a rarity here in Vietnam mostly due to low-key appearance of famous European brands as well as the mostly minimalist and mono-color style that does not resonate with Vietnamese people's love for colors and noise.
“ A typical colorful scene at a local market in Vietnam. ”
There are limitations when designing a website for Vietnamese audience
The Vietnamese language tends to be a bit more verbose than English for example, which usually causes the navigation to look a bit more cluttered. The Vietnamese alphabet (chữ quốc ngữ) is a Latin alphabet with additional diacritics for tones and certain letters. As you may have guessed, there is a very limited number of fonts that support the display of Vietnamese alphabet which vastly reduce the choices of the designers.
As noted, colors play a big role in designing in Vietnam, and the designers should equip himself deep understanding of various meanings of colors and how they can be associated with other social aspects. There have been cases where we were told to use or not to use certain colors because they may not play well with the birth year of the owners.
Most websites in Vietnam use open-source platforms
Many businesses in Vietnam often ask for the full source-code for the websites and most digital agencies opt for open-source platforms for that reason. Among the most used open-source website platforms in Vietnam are:
- Wordpress (Blog, Personal, Corporate website)
- Joomla (Personal, Corporate website)
- Drupal (Corporate website)
- Magento (eCommerce website)
- OpenCart (eCommerce website)
- Prestashop (eCommerce website)
Most business owners in Vietnam consider the websites one-off projects which leads to many website design service providers in Vietnam not offering maintenance and further promotion and development packages. The usual process of a web design and development process in Vietnam is:
The website is often deployed to a server of the client's choice and full permission and management of the host and the website will be transfered to the client. Since most businesses do not have capable in-house IT teams, the website will be left the way it is without any security and software upgrade for as long as it is still online (or until it gets hacked which happens more often that you may want to believe).
Websites in Vietnam are not used to their full potential
Many business owners in Vietnam tasks a web agency or freelancer to do a website just because they think it's something necessary to put on the business card. The website is usually not given lots of thoughts, preparation and care during the planning, design, and development process. Once launched, most websites are left un-maintained, out-dated, and not fully used to their full potential. This is a sad fact and a huge waste of resources for the owners of the websites as well as the people who visit these websites to look for useful information. There are several factors that affect this:
- Most business owners do not have enough information and understanding about the website, how it works and how it can help them to grow their businesses.
- Most companies consider website a cost, not an investment because they lack the knowledge and experience (as well as the determination) to track, measure and improve the Return on Investment of the website
The cost of having a custom web design services in Vietnam is still high compared to the general cost, and that forces many businesses to resort to using cheap and low quality web services. A custom, high quality website has to come with a high price tag and lengthy project duration. And that is reasonable, because a high-end custom web design requires a highly skilled and experienced design team and development team working for months from start to end. But can't a high-end, custom made website be more affordable?
“ We empower everyone for the world wide web. ”
Located at the center of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city, the Southern tech hub, arguably the largest of Vietnam country, Nilead team is inspired to solve this problem. We do not want to simply be a web design/development agency, we want to be a website solution provider. Our vision is to provide high quality web services that are affordable, to empower businesses to go online and to connect to their users. Our Nilead platform, or website services, and its growing eco-system is our answer to this problem:
- A powerful platform that can flexibly build all types of complicated system.
- Hosted solution that can take away all the troubles of dealing with security and hosting.
- Full website management services that assist businesses in growing their business online.
- An eco-system that provides the necessary tools for businesses to grow.
- Professional yet cost efficient web solution for small businesses (coming soon)
The website design in Vietnam is maturing and slowly transforming into the next generation. We believe that the next big things in Vietnam will have everything to do with technologies and especially with the web. We cannot wait to see more and more changes come to this 100 million people market to improve people's lives, to connect everyone together.