Get A Website Designed In Zimbabwe – Dark Secret Revealed!

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One of the first articles we wrote when we started this blog last year was about the broken state of some websites in the ICT sector. And just a few days ago, we noted that the official website of the second largest mobile phone network operator was taken down some 10 months ago and has been under construction since.

There clearly is a problem here. And what better time to learn how to get the job done effectively. Fellow blogger, Max Soutter wrote the article that follows for his Business Setup Group blog, a blog dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start-up and grow businesses the smart way. We reproduce the article here.

If you read this article on getting a website in Zimbabwe, three amazing things will happen for you
  1. You will have an unfair marketing advantage over 99% of people in your industry.
  2. You will save yourself time, money and a lot of frustration by not dealing with the wrong web design ‘experts’
  3. You will know the one question that 99% of website designers in Zimbabwe DO NOT want you to ask – YET it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT question they need to answer.
When it comes to getting a website designed in Zimbabwe, there are a million graphic designers and web design agencies out there. No real difference between most of them – some cheap, some expensive. The thing is though, they’re all (99.9% of them) keeping a dark secret from you – no seriously.
That secret is the question they don’t want you to ask, BEFORE you hire them, and to ensure that you don’t ask this question, here’s the very clever thing they do…
They distract you with the famous 5, MUCH lower value questions that can easily be answered – here they are…
  1. Can I see a few samples of other websites you’ve designed?
  2. How much do you charge?
  3. Do you provide domain registration?
  4. What about hosting?
  5. How long does it take?
I know you want to know the answers to those, but if you focus on those, you’re missing the most important thing – the POINT of a website in the first place! And there lies the secret behind the most important question…
What is the point of having a business website the first place?
  • To make your business card looks more professional?
  • So that your new company seems a little more established?
  • To keep up with the times?
  • To make your mama proud & impress your friends?
Alas, it’s none of the above!
The point of your website is the same as the point for every other MARKETING tool you ever invest in…(drum roll please) To attract, educate and convert and keep customers!

Pure and (relatively) simple.
And the NUMBER ONE question you need to ask any web designer is
“If I choose you, how will you ensure that my website attracts, educates, converts and keeps customers for me?”
When you do, you’ll hear a few ‘ummms & errrs’ and a few guesses. You’ll hear about how that’s NOT included in the web design package “but we can always try something for an extra fee”  (‘try’ being the operative word.)
My point is this; a Website Design Project Is:
  • NOT a Technical Thing so don’t focus on the technicalities so much because almost any half experienced website developer can provide you with those (hosting, domain registration) – whilst not giving you the number one thing.
  • It’s NOT A Creative Thing (oh boy, here come angry emails from designers again). No matter how nice your website looks or doesn’t look – that’s NOT the point, so don’t focus on nice looking design because again – most experienced designers can do that, whilst NOT doing the most important thing.
  • It’s NOT an Accountant’s Thing – So price is DEFINITELY NOT the most important factor either – although if you’re paying $1000 (in Zimbabwe) for a basic site, you’re on shaky ground!
A WEBSITE IS A MARKETING THING! Judge your website and your web designer on that criteria and not any other.
  • Ask him how the site will attract prospects despite the millions of other competing Google search results.
  • Ask him how the site will convince & convert clients to do business with you over your competitors.
  • Ask him what he will do to ensure your website does more than just sit online, thanks to hosting and look pretty thanks to design – but how to will offer your business a real competitive advantage that affects your bottom line?
If he can answer that, you’ve got the right person on the job. If not, keep your money and find another website designer who actually knows what he’s doing. Oh and how do you know if they can do what they say they can do? Forget samples, ask how successful their own website is.
A final thought about the cost (coincidently, what follows may be the first poem ever written about website design)!

If you find web design that’s cheap but doesn’t work – DON’T BUY IT.

Or else, you’ve wasted every dollar spent

Save up, budget and negotiate!”

But if you find one NOT cheap but it works – GET IT!

Okay, so I’m not that great at poetry, but we are into creating websites that work. If interested, get in touch.
Stay smart.




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142 Comments

  1. Nerudo

    Well I myself have been shouting about this sector in Zimbabwe. It seems like most Zimbabwean websites are still in the Iron Age of the Web sphere. You find most sites still coded in Tables.

    The .zw space is pathetic. If you hit on 10 zw sites 16 of them are Shit. They load like America is about to Fall, they look like India after a Tsunami, code is Junk like a hive of flies on a blair toilet they are all just @#$%#5

    I wont lie till the .zw space has been given quality attention we will have only a few like this blog to look at.

    Reply
  2. JamesM

    “You find most sites still coded in Tables.”

    What is that a joke? Tables are still and will be part of the HTML standard including HTML5. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the use of tables in HTML but everything wrong with a lousy designer or programmer who doesn’t know what they are doing or talking about!

    Reply
    1. Beaton Nyamapanda

      James, despite the fact that tables are a standard, there is everything wrong with using tables. Most (Zim) programmers and designers are lazy and are doing things wrongly no wonder we have lousy sites in the .zw domain space.

      Reply
      1. muzukuru

        Balls!.. web design is an art same as development, you can do it anyway, what matters is the product .. so if you not good with tables, dont shoot down tables. Rather find out how to be better with tables ..lol .. have fun

        Reply
        1. Leo Gumbo

          The W3C spec states that tables should not be used for structure of the site but for tabular data. The people that use tables to structure a site a amateur Web Developers who don’t know how to use CSS. If something is worth paying for, it must be done right. 

          Reply
    2. Ransome Mpini

      adding on to what JamesM said…tables are not meant for content presentation. they are for presenting ‘tabular’ data.
      with the advent of varying screen displays and mobile devices it is of great importance that websites are fluid and adaptable for these devices. now if presented using tables, you’d have to rewrite the whole page if say you wanted a different view (print, mobile, etc) whereas if using CSS stylesheets you can have styles adapted for the different devices.

      tables are just a big no no when it comes to content presentation.

      Reply
    3. nerudo mregi

      James its unfortunate you missed the point. As an Adobe Certtified User experience and Interface designer and an Acredited Microsoft VP. The use of table in the creation of a web layout is a no no. Simple. Its not ethical to heavily rely on table layout. CSS 2 is the web standard of web layout creation.

      Im ashamed you will not at any stage be reognised a proficient Interface designer with those cheap words. HTML 5 standrda even defy what you talking about. HTML 5 is heavily relient on CSS3 and technically an industry expert does not rely on Tables at all. I do everything without a table. Its part of the standards but is an irelevant use of technology. I gues you still using inline code.

      I TELL YOU THIS WITHOUT LOOKING YOUR CODE. i BET YOU HAVE A MESY CODING STYLE

      Reply
  3. clive

    Brilliant Max, i love it! @nerudo I don’t know much about html5 – but i think that’s the part of the point of what Max is saying – it’s not about the technicalities, that’s something only developers care about. Business people need to concern themselves with how the website affects their bottom line. I’d rather have an html 4 site full of tables that makes money, than the fanciest modern website.

    Reply
    1. muzukuru

      You made sense, all these guys are gloatin about techniques, but really? show me a site that makes my bookkeeper happy and i will make you happy … simple. if your magic does not translate to ching ching … try china not here!

      Reply
  4. I n I

    And above all all the .zw site lack security and are easily hackable…..Its only that there is no relevance of breaking into them since there is no big returns(Financially and reputational) but with time as things change if Web developers keep building 5hitty and insecure sites then companies will be in for a good ride of security breaches

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      You are right by security yah well but truth is I dont at all mind security when I code stuff like http://www.idezynit.com knwoing there are allot of security valnurabilities. Well I myself am an ethical hacker and I thik every other developer should atleast try and be secure

      Reply
  5. Joe Black

    Another thing about Zim websites and “web designers”, there’s an abundance of $200 – $250 website offerings floating about.

    Customers are going for these cheap “developers”, school-leavers or whatever with no infrastructure, backup, sometimes even internet access who simply install a free CMS like Joomla or WordPress, browse for an industry-specific lookalike template and “customize” it by changing the logo.

    You won’t believe how many I’ve come across in my work, that I’ve then had to sort out, and I never fail to lecture the customer on the difference between getting something on the cheap and throwing money away.

    Want a good job? Get a professional, look at their portfolio, and question them about Content Management Systems and their use of templates.

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      You so on point man. These kidy scripter N00bs go to content farms and strip and download templates and stick them in the client’s face and thats it. Less effort is now put in designing and develo[ing actuall sites. Im not against CMS systems I run ww.labrythm.com on wordpress but if you have a look at it you will realise that look isnt anywere else at all. I did that in a day on my birthday so dont put much to it. It was a timed project. I can go on and on about these cheap zyners but truth is you on point man

      Reply
  6. munhu

    i don’t see anything wrong with Joomla as long as u know how to use it and make it relevant to your client. When it comes to websites and online marketing, it doesn’t matter what you use as long as, it is secure, fast to load, appealing , and relevant both to the client and the visitor.

    However i also agree with you in terms of the abundance of $200-$250 offering. These are the people that are killing the industry!

    Reply
  7. Joe Black

    The problem I have is this: I think most of these guys are lazy, and might not even have the skills.

    Also, you’ll find the VAST majority of FREE templates for Joomla or these other CMS are for non-commercial use. Also, attribution is a major factor for template designers (or any original artist, really).

    These charlatans inevitable remove any attribution text or links, usually at the bottom of the page, giving credit to the actual theme/template designer, cos it wouldn’t do to charge someone for something someone else did, would it?

    Reply
  8. cool_matrix_kid

    Max wrote some valid points..no actually its just one, that a website has to help take a business online (although he decided to go for a more verbose approach).

    I have been a developer for just about 4 years and I have to disagree with you him (Max) on a number of issues. He’s showing a shocking lack of web development knowledge..and

    FIRSTLY: a website does ALL of the reasons he dismissed! With the exception of the last point, a website will help you achieve the first three. A website will help a business in MANY ways and those three, are a definite part of the benefits. (though not ALL of them)

    SECONDLY: a website is “NOT a Technical Thing”??? Just give me a break Max. It’s a perfect expression of sound, technical ideas and if you think the technical part doesn’t matter, then anyone out there is a web developer right? FOR A CLIENT TO GET THE BEST OUT OF A WEBSITE, IT HAS TO BEAT OUT COMPETITION…(and this is usually done by doing something innovative)…and TECHNICAL SKILLS ARE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. You obviously have limited knowledge of how a website is designed.

    THIRDLY (and last): It’s “not a creative thing??” How the heck does it capture attention then?? I’ve met guys like you everywhere, just throwing out whatever comes to mind when you haven’t proved your skills to anyone. If you lack the creative edge, sorry buddie but every business out there needs to be creative.

    NEW IDEAS, NEW WAYS OF DOING STUFF HELP HUMANITY AS A WHOLE!! YOU JUST CRACKED A JOKE RIGHT THERE MAN!! HOW DARE YOU SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT??

    You don’t sound like someone I’d contract to design a site, SORRY, your approach sucks.

    Reply
  9. Colin

    I was hoping that was not his actual ‘website’. No offence to bloggers (infact I will be launching a blog soon too), but, blogs are NOT websites. If your going to write an article like his, he should atleast provide some examples of websites he has produced that meet his criteria of what a website should be.

    The problem with articles like his, are they are personal opinions, which more people will disagree with than agree with. So if he is going to speak with some kind of authority he should provide something to be judged upon in order to gain that authority/respect.

    There are ofcourse things to look out for when choosing a web designer but he has pointed out bad reasons for a bad purpose, to promote himself and his services.

    Just my 2cents.

    Reply
  10. Joe Black

    To all those villifying the author, I do recall the other day that this very blog here that you’re on put out a call to those in the web design business to submit articles.

    http://www.techzim.co.zw/2010/11/telecel-website-offline/

    Obviously Max did, got his points across, and marketed himself in the process, as anyone would.

    I challenge those of you b1tching about it to do the same, submit YOUR take on the issue to admin.

    Reply
  11. w3ll$

    Max I visited your so called website and I wasn’t impressed. NOT IMPRESSED AT ALL! After everything you said in your post, I can’t forgive you for such an atrocious looking “site”.

    1st: Bad formatting. Your headers (h1,h2,h3…) have different font sizes and it just doesn’t look good. Now I see why you argue that the design is of no importance, it’s because yours is ugly. Personally I enjoy browsing a site that’s well designed because it makes it much easier for me to find the information I need.

    2nd. Judging from the name of your “site”, BizSetup Group, it sounds like it should be a CORPORATE website advertising the services that you offer and yet I can’t help but notice a photo of yours truly on the banner!! Why the hell would anyone put a photo of themselves on a supposed corporate site, you don’t see Bill Gates or Steve Jobs plastered all over the Microsoft or Apple sites do you.

    3rd. Clearly, no planning went into developing or designing your site coz it’s such a mess. Why do you have two HOME links on your main navigation bar?

    I don’t know if you’ve heard about Web 2.0, but this is the next version of the web where the DESIGN and USER EXPERIENCE play a big role in differentiating your site from competitors’. Next time how about doing a little research before you start mouthing off other designers and/or developers.

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Honestly the site sucks. I thought he was on a simplistic note. His website actually runs on a free template. So he “brainwise” isnt at alll an code Im sorry all he knows are widgets and themes.

      Reply
  12. cool_matrix_kid

    Thank I think i’ll have a go BUT it doesn’t justify Max saying stuff that he doesn’t know about..we appreciate quality content..period.

    Reply
  13. Cor

    From the perspective of someone who knows nothing about the coding issues – just an entrepreneur this is my view

    Firstly i really could give a damn about how perfectly coded or good looking a website is. I know something that you designers don’t.

    WHEN YOU’VE PAID $500 OF YOUR OWN MONEY FOR A WEBSITE, WHAT YOU WANT IS RESULTS IN YOUR POCKET, NOTHING ELSE.

    Max well said. A website should affect a businesses bank account more than any other thing.

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Cor you a dumb entrepreneur. Are you an Entrepreneur or you are a WannaPreneur. Kasi uri dealer wema parts emota anoti chero mu box muchimera zvichipindirana ne mota yacho. Ouhk Im also an online entrepreneur all you saying is wannaPreneur duki kuty bull.

      You sell your image before you sell a website. Ndosaka muchi cleaner ma office. Do you just pay rent for any place for your company? or you pay for the best. The internet is a virtual world your space is your building. No wonder why Zimbabwe was late to the Internet game and personally they wont be coming any time soon

      Reply
  14. Max

    Hey guys, i appreciate all the feedback on the post. I love debate and i think it educates us all. But i think a few people have missed the point of the article completely.

    Perhaps answering the following question will help put this debate in perspective

    1) Would you rather have the most perfectly coded, prettiest site in Zimbabwe or the most visited, subscribed to and best converting site in your industry?

    You don’t have to like the look of my website. You don’t even have to like my face on the banner – but i’d bet you’d like the results i’m getting.

    Anyone with even a month of design practice could design a site that’s better looking than http://www.craigslist.com)
    But no one in WORLD has been able to compete with them on how much value and profitability they generate for millions of people when it comes to classifieds.

    Hope that makes sense.

    It’s about what you (and your clients) should be focused on as a priority. Everything else is just details.

    p.s. i know a lot more about design than you might imagine. I just understand it’s place on a list of priorities.

    Reply
  15. Max

    I could easily design a site far better looking than this one, but I’d much rather have THIS ONE! It has an audience with a targeted group of people and gets thousands of monthly views – as a result it’s BETTER than any nice looking, perfectly coded site anyone of us could design!

    Does that make sense to anyone?

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Max do not at all charm yourself this site compete to sell content and they are good at what they are doing. Look at TechCrunch and mashable. Should I shout to your why Craiglist looks like that?

      Reply
  16. Kudzai

    Hello guys.. This is a bit off topic but still on topic since its for a web development post. Does anyone here have experience converting a PSD to Drupal.. or know someone here in Zim? And like mentioned above by someone… without using Tables but with pure CSS / XHTML? I’m looking for the service and would like to keep in local (Zim). Thanks for your help.

    email: shona (@) kudzai (dot) net

    Reply
    1. Solo

      Do you have Photoshop or Illustrator?  I can show you how to take an existing design in either
      Photoshop or Illustrator to XHTML to a working Drupal theme.

      I am using Photoshop CS5 on a mac, however older
      versions of Photoshop and PC users should be able to do it as the
      primary tools and menus that are in CS5 are very
      similar.

      Those who prefer Illustrator, the method is almost exactly the same as
      in Photoshop. But since there I have an interest in Photoshop specifically,
      it is the program I’ll be using for this example

      Reply
  17. Ten

    Hell this is so obvious! Who is more credible in this argument on how a website should be designed?

    Someone who has hundreds if not thousands of followers online through his websites or someone who simply designs them for a living?

    I am so pissed cuz last year i spent almost $900 on web designers who gave me a very good looking website with excellent security features and clean code. I was very happy, especially with how good the website looked plus they gave me free submissions to 200 search engines which i was told would launch my site and make our brand more popular.

    It took me more than 9 months to realize that i was only getting an average of THREE visitors a month after paying that much and being promised that the website would make a good difference in my business.

    I have just seen Mr Soutter’s website and i DO NOT think it’s ugly at all, but it’s not nearly as nice as mine looked, yet i would BY FAR rather have he’s site which is clearly working, vs mine which didn’t add a single dollar to my pocket in 15 months. after this it went off because i realized that i was wasting money on the hosting fee.

    By the way the company which did that original site was highly recommended as one of the biggest and best web design agencies in the country – what a waste of time and money.

    As customers we want much more than nice looking things. We are in business to make money. We need good marketing experts not time wasters.

    w3ll$ and cool matrix person, i would not hire your type ever again, i have learned my lesson. Your websites probably receive very very few visitors as mine did. You hide your real names because you don’t know what you are talking about!

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Ten you missing the point. What you dont get is after cleam code there is whats called SEO. I think I should tell you guys more about SEO. Clean code is essential to your site. The guys that gave you such clean and good code know what they are talking about. Traffic is based on content. give me an email on nerudom@ bsolve . co .za

      Reply
      1. Sakupa

        @nerudo dude you are lost in buzzwords you not getting this. if none of the seo and stuff gets me any money then it is useless, even if it is technically flawless. Its like a hot girlfriend who wont give you tail.

        Reply
  18. Colin

    First of all, you are failing to realise that MOST sites that are visited often, subscribed to and convert well in their industry ARE the sites that are perfectly coded and pretty.

    You obviously do not know much about code AT ALL, otherwise you would realise that craigslist has about the best design possible. It has the perfect balance between looking good and functionality. Same with facebook, clean cut, aesthetically pleasing and beyond functional.

    The reason your getting results from your ‘website’ is not becuase your some kind of internet/business guru or becuase your website is what everyone is looking for. It is simply becuase there is no competition to you. I’m not saying I will and don’t take this as a challenge as it’s not intended to be, but I could set up a site that gets far more conversions than you in your market within a month. The best part about it is it would take me less than a few hours to setup the site and have the ebook written.

    So please don’t come here and brag about your site’s conversions. It may impress newbies to the net but anyone who has read a blog like yours before (and there are tens of thousands of them) knows just how simple it is to do.

    The statement in your post below saying, “I could easily design a site far better looking than this one, but I’d much rather have THIS ONE!” just proves anything I really need to know about your mentality towards web design and development.

    [comment edited by techzim editor]

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Collin you right. You on point. He thinks he gets that conercion coz of his ” ” whatever it all comes down to page and keyword relevancy.

      Its unfortunate MR MAX doesnt know what is getting him traffic. Its these posts that he is making that are getting him traffic not his TIRED looking website. NOOOOOOO not alll. Its CONTENT MR MAX. Your content is king and thats all. You just insulting us with such half stupid content. You not a DEVELOPER SO SHUT THE F#$% UP MAX OR ELSE ILL BE PISSED OFF :-)

      Reply
  19. w3ll$

    @Ten. boo hoo your site only got 3 visitors. that sucks for you mate. but if you know anything about the web, which clearly you don’t, you’d know that the NUMBER ONE RULE is that CONTENT IS KING!! if you’ve got _____ content on your site, you don’t get visitors simple!! don’t blame the designers or developers coz they use the content you supply them with to create you site. they did their job to make the site look good and be as secure as it can be. what more do you want from them, keeping your content relevant and up-to-date is your problem, you the one running the business aren’t you?

    [comment edited by techzim editor]

    Reply
  20. Tendai Mare

    well said colin.
    Max is just an opportunist out to get as much traffic as he can to his site. Just like most businesses in zimbabwe, he sells lies and half truths. i give him credit. He manages to do it well.

    you say the point of a website is
    To attract, educate and convert and keep customers!

    how do you attact, educate and keep customers without factoring in the design, technicalities and creativity of the site.

    Take a site with an option for chatting online with a client when he visits, can any jack and gill from the street design and code it?
    take Cross browser compatibilty, browser backward compatibility, if its CMS, which one to choose, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or Plone.
    those are all choices which need to be made. that requires technical knowledge.

    you then go on to say
    A WEBSITE IS A MARKETING THING! Judge your website and your web designer on that criteria and not any other.

    Internet marketing refers to the strategies that are used to market a product or service online, marketing strategies that include search engine optimization and search engine submission, copywriting that encourages site visitors to take action, web site design strategies, online promotions, reciprocal linking, and email marketing – and that’s just hitting the highlights.

    and can you tell that does not require innovation, intelligent design and creativity.

    max please do some research, before beginning to proclaim yourself an expert in any field. you are short changing the unknowing public
    when you are an authority figure, you should be careful of the message you deliver to the masses

    i am disappointed that you dont seem to see the errors in your logic.

    blogging is about earning respect as much as it is about getting paid

    Reply
  21. cool_matrix_kid

    Well said Colin. If Max has designed any site to date, it was a rip off. his web design philosophy reeks of extreme ignorance of much that matters about a website.

    I feel sorry for the clients you’re exposing to such low standards max.

    Reply
  22. mavis

    As far as i can tell, Max didn’t mention not factoring in the design or technical aspects of a website – he simply says that those are not the primary focus. The primary focus is marketing, which is the whole point of this post.

    Perhaps if you read the post again, you can see that it is about what your focus should be.

    Can anyone argue that a website is primarily a MARKETING project since this is the most important result clients want.

    Reply
  23. greg

    I think this post is a little self promotional by the author. However that doesn’t make it any less true or valuable.

    I’ve worked extensively with Joomla and a bit with WordPress (in Zim & SA) for almost 5 years and i can definitely see where he is coming from.

    90% of us developers and creative designers are clueless about REAL marketing online. Sure, we are well read on web 2.0 and all that, but seriously, not many have ACTUAL experience with making a site popular, let alone profitable. And that’s the truth for even very good ‘technical experts’ i know.

    In other words, the sites we design, although very good in function and design, are not really useful to the business until someone like Max makes it popular, as he has obviously managed with this post.

    great thoughts, both sides.

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      This sounds like a man I know. Greg greg greg. Always the one to calmn the waters. Greg you know how angry I get when I get such insulting posts. Greg you know how angrrrry and furious I get :-)

      Reply
  24. greg

    LOL, Sure does sound like a challenge Colin! Why not put your money where your mouth is or at least SHOW US a market where you are pulling similar or better results than this Max guy.

    It’s may not be as difficult to as all that to create a popular blog, but it sure is MUCH easier to claim that you can, than to actually do it!

    No offence!

    Reply
  25. Boss

    @ w3ll$ Damn, you’re funny ______ You couldn’t find craigslist? Get off that dumb site and see Alexa, which is probably the top web ranking site. Alexa measures craigslist at 10th most popular site in the USA and 34th IN THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD DUDE!!

    you mouth too much.

    I doubt anyone could know much about online marketing and not know Craigslist is huge.

    Max is right. Craigslist looks like crap just like he says though it’s got decent/great coding. It’s not a pretty site and most corporates would laugh in your face if you delivered that design to them

    @ Max – dude you gotta have known this post would start a fight right? I mean i agree with your main points, but man, this is just damn nasty for suckers out there trying to earn a living from design and code services!

    ____ Congratulations. Now every ZERO MARKETING webdever in that _____ country is after you!

    [comment edited by techzim editor]

    Reply
    1. nerudo mregi

      Every developer is not a Marketter man. Stop telling us who we are. Tell me of a 1 marketing web dev. Do you knoe what they call a Developer talk to computers not people. How dare you compare a developer a kousy marketing suit and tie jerk. We the most paid in this :-)

      We are not after MAX we just love our TECH ZIM to read such anoying stuff and comments.

      Reply
  26. Boss

    @whoever owns this blog – thanks. This has gotta be the most entertaining post + comments I’ve read all week. This blog rocks. I’ve been overseas for almost 10 years now, but i went to high school in Zim 14 years ago.

    @Max, i can’t help but feel you wrote this in this way cuz you knew how pissed all the geek heads would get. You make some great points. I’ve been jamming with code for big sites 7 years now and even i know marketing is the main sh!t we gotta focus on.

    Reply
  27. Boss

    @ten. You should be able to tell by now that financial results isn’t exactly what we get paid to do when you hire a web designer. I get paid $2000 minimum for simple sites (USA) and that doesn’t come with any marketing. You want an impressive site, call a web designer. But if you want a site that makes cash, that’s just not most ‘technical’ designers do. FACT.

    Reply
  28. Tendai Mare

    here is what he said
    “a Website Design Project Is:

    * NOT a Technical Thing so don’t focus on the technicalities so much because almost any half experienced website developer can provide you with those (hosting, domain registration) – whilst not giving you the number one thing.
    * It’s NOT A Creative Thing (oh boy, here come angry emails from designers again). No matter how nice your website looks or doesn’t look – that’s NOT the point, so don’t focus on nice looking design because again – most experienced designers can do that, whilst NOT doing the most important thing.”

    the problem with his article is that he generalised the web dev process whereas each client has his on set of specific requirements,every project is different and unique.

    Reply
  29. Tendai Mare

    it definitely was an entertaining post it is a tyt blog.
    with the fact that marketing is important, but
    the point is not that anyone disagrees that marketing is not important. but for you to market something you need to have a great product and in this context a great well designed website. so the web dev process encompasses all the aspects that he doesnt see as important.

    evryone knows that no matter how hard you try you just cant market sh!t. ask NETONE they will tell you

    Reply
  30. Boss

    Dude, I’ve seen bad looking sites with bare minimum tech behind them kick the ass out of some really handsome sites with great features. i know because i used to be a victim dude! Max isn’t just saying marketing is number 1, he’s trying to bring home just how FAR more important it is for most corporate sites. Hurts like hell from a techie perspective, but it’s proved everyday!

    Reply
  31. greg

    @ boss, you’re right. Look at wordpress.com They host MILLIONS of free blogs. Most people who use them don’t even need very minimal at any tech and design skills yet many bringing much greater traffic and have much more influence than typical sites.

    Times are changing.

    That doesn’t mean designers or coders will be out of a job, but they’re going to have to get focused on the bottom line much more.

    Reply
  32. Joe Black

    Yesterday a friend of mine asked me if I could design a website for his new venture. My answer was simple.

    It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you want to achieve. That’s the point, you need to have a traceable revenue stream DIRECTLY from the website, whether via Sales, Billing, whatever, to the BANK.

    No matter how pretty your site is, if you don’t have a plan for how the site fits into your marketing plan, you’re treading water.

    THAT is the point.

    Reply
  33. w3ll$

    @Boss WOOOOOOOW!! Comprehension, clearly, is not your forte. If you properly read my comment, you’d have realized that I was surprised that Max said that no one in WORLD has been able to compete with craiglist. Now, if no one has been able to I wonder where the 33 sites in front of it came from.

    Reply
  34. Max Soutter

    @ joe black – good point Joe, i would agree with that and take even further to say although an online billing system is a tech thing – it has no value outside of marketing. That’s why a cient when they approach a web designer has to absolutely guard his focus to maintain it on the marketing – because that’s where the bottom line line is.

    Reply
  35. Joe Black

    I have a hosting client. Their “consultant” just came to me telling me the client can’t find the site when they search on Google, what is the problem.

    This is a question from the DESIGNER of this site. I told him to go READ A BOOK about SEO, and redevelop the site accordingly.

    That’s what I meant about incompetence, this guy put together a pretty thing for the company, blah blah, got paid, yet he doesn’t even know what spiders and keywords are enough to complete the goddamn job.

    AMATEURS!!!

    Reply
  36. charle

    All of you are correct to a certain extent.
    I follow max and to a greater extent he is someone advertising his services. But when it comes to the technicalities of web designing and how the internet works i usually take his advise with a pinch of salt.

    This is my advise of you want to set up a website:
    We should take note of the following:
    1. We live in Zimbabwe not the USA. The level of internet average usage per person in Zimbabwe is far lower. most people i know just forward e-mails and facebook.
    2. We lack some of the infrastructure that makes you able to implement a Zimbabwean e-commerce site that can be fully utilised by Zimbabweans in Zimbawe. A case in point is accessing PayPal and the low usage of credit cards
    3. Our internet habits are not the same as Americans or other countries.
    4. By my projections, most people are going to be accessing the internet from their phones using GPRS and thats a whole lot different from using a PC.
    5. Importantly and it has the most significant effect, Zimbabweans are low income earners in general

    You have to take these into consideration when designing and setting up a website. Don’t just design for the sake of designing and charging a customer lots of money. Really get down and analyse what the customer really needs. I believe most companies need a website especially to improve communication with the market. Off course its very easy for me to look up your products online as compared to first calling and asking.

    Importantly please advise a customer accordingly in relation to the Zimbabwean internet situation so they know what to expect. If you take a site that is making money in america and transplant it here, it does not necessarily mean it will make money with a zimbabwean audiance. For me, I fork out money just to mantain my site and it still have not got returns.

    As for the quality of web designers, I believe we have competent-enough web designers in our country. You just have to weed out the bad from the good. I dont see anything wrong with using CMS such as Joomla or WordPress. I use Joomla and I think its a wonderful tool for rapid development. Just make sure you know how to use it and make sure you produce a working website. Please convert all settings so we do not have to see Joomla! on your site(only professionals should be able to deduce its joomla not the layman).

    Reply
  37. Doggy

    @ w3ll$ Actually Max and boss are right. The 33 sites in front of them ARE not classifieds websites- Craigslist is 34th in the WORLD in including ALL categories!

    Homework time friend!

    Reply
  38. Doggy

    Good points Charle, i agree about the america / zim thing 100%.

    Still that does not by any means follow that it’s not possible to have a highly successful website from a marketing perspective.

    I worked with Max on a small thing for his site about 9 months ago and I can tell you that the guy has got the wheels spinning on that baby. At that time he had over 500 people email subscribers and about 3 other very targeted lists all from the same site. This is all separate from organic traffic. He also owns if I’m allowed to say about 15 or more websites some with similar results.

    The guy is not technical, no doubt about it, i mean i had to hold his hand on a few things good coders would consider basic, but the point is he’d done all that and continues to all without ANY serious tech – and barely ever hires a techie. You might be advised to take his word with a little more than a pinch.

    Reply
  39. stan

    For sure @Boss, a really good blog post, thank you to Mr Max and everyone who added their opinion.

    I guess there are two approaches to web design that clients must be aware of. The technical approach that focuses on perfect code or the marketing approach that focuses on bottom line results in the bank.

    before i read all this i assumed that all website developers had the same general out look on the priorities. obviously this is not the case.

    Reply
  40. max

    @ colin – Whether it’s a challenge or not isn’t important, but perhaps you SHOULD consider setting up this amazing site, and since it will take you ‘less than a few hours’, why not?!

    You could help a lot of people in the process.

    Colin Marketing isn’t useful if it ONLY works when you have no competition, although it is smart to differentiate yourself to the degree that people consider you the only doing what you’re doing.

    If it sounded like bragging, that’s not what was intended, was simply giving an example.

    And if you really can setup successful websites as easily and fast as you say, then i have to say that You are by no means a typical web developer, because most are definitely are clueless about how to pull that off, which also means you’re a part of the 1% of web developers already alluded to in the post.

    I use a lot of high leverage, viral and automated systems but i have to admit, i doubt i could put together a better converting site + write a quality e-book (i’d want to associated with) in less than a few hours that did better than the Bizsetup blog.

    Unless you’re talking simple squeeze pages, auto-responders, PLR, auto blogging sites, affiliate marketing and that sort of thing, which even a none techie like me could do rather easily too?

    Whatever the case, you and your clients must be extremely satisfied with the BOTTOM LINE results you’re delivering!

    Reply
  41. max

    LOL i’m glad you managed to find at least one valid point in there! I’ll have to try harder next time won’t i!

    Thanks for reading and sharing your point of view anyway.

    Reply
  42. max

    @ doggie, you’re right i’m not a technical dude (although i’ve improved a great deal since that project mate lol). When it comes to the internet, i prefer to think of myself more as an online marketer. I helps me to maintain a results oriented perspective.

    Another way to look at it for those who are struggling is to compare this to offline marketing – print advertising for example.

    Of course you want your brochures handled correctly by the technical and creative team involved, but when managing a print campaign, you get results by having an obsessive focus on how what is designed, written and how to it’s printed and delivered is line with the vision of the marketer, not the designer, printer or anyone else involved in the process.

    Reply
  43. Tapiwa

    Really, this bothers me. I am a developer who occasionally dabbles with design. I hope people will now stop abusing web developers & designers. We do one thing: we build websites to spec, nothing more, nothing less. You do not expect an architect to do your interior decor or landscaping, so why would you expect a developer to assist you with marketing? The problem is that people are being cheap: hire an SEO & Marketing expert to complement the developer (can’t really fault them in the ZW economy).

    I will not turn away your business, even if you do not know the purpose of your website. Just don’t blame me for giving you what you asked for.

    An aside: websites are no longer just about marketing/one way communication – that is so ’97. I hope I do not have to explain about web applications, user interaction, community participation & mash-ups.

    Reply
  44. Jizani

    1, Where is the Link to the authors website.

    2, Designers design website’s they don’t market it, its up to u the website owner or your marketing team to market it, Simple
    3,“If I choose you, how will you ensure that my website attracts, educates, converts and keeps customers for me?”

    Point of correction – webdesigners can creat attractive sites which educate and convert customers, but its your customer service which keep customers for u not a website.

    Reply
  45. Tapiwa

    Bear with my real-world analogy.

    “I am so pissed cuz last year i spent almost $900k on architects who gave me a very good looking retail shop with excellent security and modern looks. I was very happy, especially with how good the shop looked plus they gave me free submissions to 200 newspapers and magazines which i was told would launch my shop and make our brand more popular.

    It took me more than 9 months to realize that i was only getting an average of THREE visitors a month after paying that much and being promised that the shop would make a good difference in my business.”

    Maybe the stuff in your ‘shop’ isn’t good enough? Hire a marketing team/person & do a proper marketing campaign, if your product is compelling, you will get traction.

    Reply
  46. Tapiwa

    Of the designers/coders you know, how many did any marketing courses? you do not turn to architects & construction companies for advice on branding / Marketing campaigns. When you want something built, something that carries your brand, you tell them “I’m want a retail shop. It has to be at least xx square metres”

    Reply
  47. Joe Black

    To further clarify this, before all you One-Man-Bands start hooting and hollering, the concept is simple.

    When I worked in a Web Dev house, there were designers, coders, and also someone who did SEO etc after final approval and sign-off.

    Now, if you’re providing a website dev service, you need to learn that SEO and online marketing are all PART OF THE PROCESS, and if you want to provide the services of a full design house, do the whole job.

    Don’t do a half-arsed job and then tell the client to go find a marketing expert – if they’d gone to a company, instead of a cheap chancer, they’d get the full service.

    You don’t know how to do it? READ A GODDAMN E-BOOK.

    Reply
  48. Tapiwa

    Every web developer should know SEO, no doubt. I know SEO well enough to factor it into websites I create, I follow searchengineland & all that, but I hardly call myself an ‘SEO expert’. I dedicate my time to improve my craft (which is not, but includes SEO).

    Marketing is an entirely different creature, and online marketing is so much more than SEO. I know NOTHING when it comes to online marketing. Am I incompetent?

    If your page does not appear on 1st page of search results, you could do with a marketing campaign until your visibility becomes organic. If you have crap content on your site, not even Matt Cutts himself could SEO your website to the 1st results page.

    Reply
  49. max

    @Joe Black – 1oo% mate!

    This is a big part of the reason many local businesses have failed to see the relevance of the web in their businesses – Because their sites were done by web designers that consider a job fully done just because it’s well coded and looks good.

    If you offer the service it IS your job to go further, because that’s what the client is REALLY paying for, a business solution. Not a technical/ creative experience with you and a site that will never be seen. That’s just a waste of money.

    If you’ve been ignoring the RESULTS end of the equation, you really should reconsider, because it’s unfair on your client and ultimately disadvantages you too.

    Reply
  50. max

    @Tapiwa Good job on continually improving your craft and learning some SEO. True, marketing is a different creature and if you really do know nothing than then the value you deliver is always going to be extremely limited from a business point of view.

    You probably already know enough about seo to greatly improve their content if it’s not Google friendly so start there and then invest into learning online marketing or partner with someone who can handle that end of the project for you.

    You’re probably much stronger on the technical side than i am, and with the marketing done right, you could create a fantastic service for your clients Tapiwa.

    Reply
  51. max

    I love the analogy Tapiwa, funny as heck too!

    I see where you’re coming from bro, because years ago (as a graphic designer) i was of the same mindset – all i wanted to do was be creative, not concerning myself with the actual results, as long as it looked good.

    There are several problems with your analogy though.

    1) It’s not reality, it’s just a perspective – yours. And it’s a perspective that a large portion of your market does not share. It’s also a perspective that some of your competitors don’t share either – which is a problem for you.

    You maybe great at what you do, but if what you do is less than the client really expects and less than your marketing minded competitor offers…not good.

    2) Submissions to 200 newspapers vs 200 search engines will produce two very different results mate. 200 newspapers would GUARANTEE visibility to thousands if not millions of people, 200 search engine submissions might not get you even a single eyeball.

    Same goes for a ‘good looking retail shop with modern looks’ – unless it’s on an island, you get walk in customers just by existing, no such luck online.

    Reply
  52. w3ll$

    @Tapiwa. valid points mate. I do agree that developers should know enough SEO to optimize their clients’ sites so that they are ranked better by search engines but at the same time understand that a number 1 ranking on google doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will automatically be a success. I mean there are even “illegal” means of getting your site a good ranking (but will undoubtedly get your site blacklisted, but if your content is not relevant and you have a bad business model, your site won’t bring you loads of cash. And you can’t blame the developer/designer because THAT is beyond their control.

    Reply
  53. Tapiwa

    @Max You might have missed my core point: which is division of labour. You don’t get your architect to plan your marketing campaign. Similarly, do not expect the developer/designer to do a ROI Analysis for your website (or your larger business). You cannot possibly expect a developer (or anyone) you met last week to devine the impact the website will have on your bottom-line.

    When you approach me, YOU would have made up your mind that YOU want a website, hopefully with a good reason. If you have no real reason, I’ll still take your money and give you exactly what you asked for.

    The problem, I think, is that these clients are too cheap to go the whole 9-yards and hire the right people for the right roles. Get a technical guy to do the technical stuff; get a marketing guy to do the marketing stuff. Simple.

    I have an axe to grind, my message is this: get your Business Case right before you approach anyone to create your website, know exactly what you want to achieve. You don’t walk into an Investment Firm and say “I want to invest money. I expect a lot of interest”. Are you investing for your long or short term? What is your risk tolerance? etc. You have no-one but yourself to blame for not having a clear vision.

    Reply
  54. Tapiwa

    All valid points. But I have been dismayed by a number of websites made by a certain ‘professional’ development house, one of the more visible ones in Zim with an impressive portfolio. An example website is that of a weekly newspaper that has been failing for years now… “MySQL error ” or the more recent error “Failed to connect to database”. Maybe even after you go ‘pro’, you can’t escape school-leavers making your site (behind the scenes).

    Don’t rag on GPL frameworks like Joomla; it’s miles ahead of some of the in-house ‘frameworks’ I have seen. Tried & tested, implements best practices and reduces duplication of effort. Code re-use I something I believe in

    Reply
  55. max

    @ w3ll$ – You’re 100% right mate, 1st place in google for irrelevant keywords will definitely prove useless – however as an SEO you’re not targeting useless keywords anyway. You would know how to go about discovering the right words to target.

    besides the point wasn’t meant to be about ranking clients in Google, because after all, as you already know, SEO is only part of online marketing, not the whole.

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one mate.

    Some webdevers, maybe yourself, will NEVER feel the responsibility towards their clients bottom line results. In my mind this means not necessarily that you have cheated your client, as long as you have;

    1) Educated them properly on what results they should and
    SHOULD NOT expect from you
    2) Priced yourself accordingly,
    3) At least given them good direction on where to get the rest of the job done.

    It also means that most if not all clients would be better off going with a person/ company that will take them further, especially if the Full service is about the same amount as you charge.

    I’m sure you’d agree that in the end, every client is well advised if advised to go with whomever can give them the most of what they want for the money they’ve got? In this case, the online marketing web developer delivers more of THE KIND OF VALUE the client really wants.

    Reply
  56. charle

    I support you my brother on GPL frameworks. They save time and allow you to focus more on the functionality of the intended website. I would rather use a framework like joomla and adapt it than starting from scratch. It reduces the chance of having bugs crop up in unexpected places. the only bugs I have had to solve are one that occured in the code i wrote outside the framework. Do not also forget security issues.

    Reply
  57. tendai

    Max is spot on with this one, a website is an internet marketing tool that should actually add figures to the bottom-line. Most business site in Zim are static, get no hits and are hardly updated. Yet the companies pay design fees, hosting fees, etc. So they are pretty much liabilities coz they don’t add any solid value to the bussness.

    Reply
  58. tendai

    Max i support you 100% on this one, there are more fundamental considerations for a web strategy besides the techy and creative bits. I mean, who is growing to appreciate the creativity if the site gets no hits at all. Developers need an understanding of marketing to fully appreciate the value of what you’ve just said.

    Reply
  59. tendai

    This debate is only highlighting the divide between web developers/designer and marketing professionals. I think moving forward both parties should work together and develop internet marketing solutions that benefit local businesses. Each day the internet is erasing the geographical boundaries between markets and Zim companies, going forward, need to have a significant presence on the internet to be competitive – at least first page rank on searches relating to Africa.

    Reply
  60. In Creation Design

    Thanks for you thoughts Max, quite intriguing.

    The comments fascinate me the most however. In defense of the ‘$150′ website design people, you cannot blame them for trying to make a buck out of what they spent 3-5 years at school for. What I don’t appreciate is those that don’t seek to improve their art as well as the sites they have designed for clients. We all started somewhere.

    I think it is noteworthy that web development has 3 key arts, design, development and content deployment. It is rare to find a single person who has the skills to design the visuals to an awesome website, integrate the various scripts or put it into a suitable Content Management System AND create dynamic, riveting content. I would encourage developers out there to form mutually beneficial synergies, don’t try to be a jack of all trades.

    Thanks again Max.

    Reply
  61. tinm@n

    I think nerudo is referring to laying out website’s by using tables, which is greatly frowned upon as being misuse of table markup. For new websites, it would be good if designers stuck to more accessible/standard ways of coding.

    Reply
  62. Dereck Goto

    I’m glad that Zimbabwe now has a vibrant platform to discuss web/internet related issues. Thanks to the developers of this website :-)

    ————

    You guys – The article you are commenting on was plucked from a designer in a different economy and culture altogether from Zimbabwe. The basis for this discussion is thus misplaced. I have been developing websites in Zimbabwe for more than 8 years. What I can tell you today is most Zimbabwean companies need websites for the following reasons;
    * To make your business card look more professional?
    * So that your new company seems a little more established?
    * To keep up with the times?
    * To make your mama proud & impress your friends?
    AND TO INFROM

    Of late one / two companies and several educational institutions have now evolved to the levels that allow them to add specific functionalities to invite users back to their websites – for the rest – it is a dream to assume that you they can reasonably monitise their websites. Why? We have no e-commerce to talk of in this country – none of us has a credit card to transact online. How many of us have consistent access to the internet? Of the ones that have access to the internet – how many have disposable incomes? The most visited websites in Zimbabwe are newspapers. I challenge any company that seriously believes they can make direct money off their website today to come in the open. which web-based product can we have in zimbabwe that hasnt been developed elsewhere in the first world at a lower cost? talk of software – e-books – anything.
    the purpose of the most effective zimbabwean websites is to inform and to perform specific functions e.g recieve newsletter (which also informs). to inform – a website should look pretty and the developer should understand user behaviour on the website – which is a very scientific process and technical; for effective functional aspects – you need strong technical skills. for search engine optimisation and marketing – you need to continuously EXPERIMENT with various techniques because any sane search engine (esp google)will never tell you exactly how they come up with their search rankings.
    To those dismissing Joomla – I would like to urge you to learn a lot more on the subject before you start commenting on public fora – Havard, HSBC and many others use Joomla. What have they seen in it that you cant see?
    It is also inadequate to assume that having an effective website is entirely an online job – offline marketing is equally crucail – especially for inviting first time users. I believe offline marketing is not the domain of web designers – so i wont discuss it further.
    Solution:
    – As an industry we need to mobilse and quicken the introduction of mass market online payment technologies and gateways.
    - we also need mass marketers to assist in conscentising the general public on the multiple benefits of internet access
    - we need more disposable income
    SO FOR NOW, AN EFFECTIVE WEBSITE FOR THE AVERAGE ZIMBABWEAN COMPANY IS A WEBSITE THAT INFORMS/COMMUNICATES. PRESCRIBING ANYTHING MORE WOULD RESULT IN WASTING THE COMPANY’S RESOURCES.

    Have a look at my website – http://www.webentangled.com

    p/s someone tried to support designing websites using tables. whatever you need to put in a table you can use clean and morden coding to achieve – but the challenge with tables is they can render funny depending on the device you are using to view the website i.e it can look well on your internet explorer but it might render undesirable on your opera mini. a website that renders well on multiple websites is definately better

    Reply
  63. BB

    Mr Soutter you are a great inspiration for myself and two partners. We have read your Cash Baron book and 2 weeks ago attempted to use your four secrets and although it did not turn out exactly as expected, it turned into the biggest success our young business has had so far. we are thrilled! You are truly a help to many.

    Reply
  64. Max Soutter

    @BB Thank you my friend. I appreciate it and i’m so glad it’s working for you. Keep going, i know business in Zim isn’t easy for most, but with the right strategies, anyone can still make good progress.

    Reply
  65. Frog IT

    How can one contact you to execute a website and a strategy for us? Do you charge for an initial consultation meeting?

    We are a new company and we want to supply IT products from a much larger partner in the UK. I have read your Customer Thief download and was extremely inspired and impressed with your approach to marketing.

    Reply
  66. Frog IT

    How can one contact you to execute a website and a strategy for us? Do you charge for an initial consultation meeting?

    We are a new company and we want to supply IT products from a much larger partner in the UK. I have read your Customer Thief download and was extremely inspired and impressed with your approach to marketing.

    Reply
  67. Mk

    Dereck, you have just about summed a lot up. I’m not a web developer but a web entrepreneur, based in South Africa. And there is one key aspect that still lacks in Zimbabwe: Monetization of websites through E-Commerce channels. There are only a few ways a website can function:

    1. To act as a brochure and inform about a company (most Zim websites)

    2. To sell a virtual product/service e.g. music, e-books, content thus requiring online payment gateway mechanisms

    3. To sell a physical product e.g. electronics, thus requiring e-commerce functionality and fulfillment services such as integrated shipping and tracking

    4. To monetize content through advertising such as Google Adwords, mostly the realm of blogs such as this one. How much does techzim.co.zw monetize through advertising? I’m not sure to say this, but i think there is a severe lack of quality content in Zim that the global web space would find appealing to tap into. Kudos to sites such as techzim, but I’d say they need to also provide international focused content to go with the local content.

    5. To offer a subscription based service such as dating and gaming sites. This types of sites need critical mass and a large online audience willing to participate. Again require facilities to allow online payment. Again, lacking in Zim.

    So, it is not necessarily the fault of the developer/designer that sites in Zim still look basic, but that is what the industry dictates. Web 2.0 offers vast opportunities but unfortunately Zim is still in Web 1.0. MAJORITY sites still just require basic brochure websites that provide companies a window to market to those communities that are online. Joomla, WordPress etc are very sufficient for this. Developers need to be more proficient in their application. Look at sites such as http://www.techcrunch.com ,a top ranking blog site sitting on the wordpress platform.

    A point to developers, the first point really is to make use of social plugins and various tools that are integrated into these sites as well as basic SEO implementation. Then let the market dictate what sort of sites are needed. Until the ability to transact online is available in Zim, POINT 1 above is the only use there is for websites in Zim.

    Reply
  68. Mk

    Quite frankly, you do get what you pay for. If it’s $150 you have, you will get a site for that much. Don’t fuss about anyone killing the industry because of charging low prices fro crap sites. Let customers come to you based on the quality of your work. Competition is quite irrelevant, always assume there is that kind of competition and focus on developing far reaching websites worth the punt.

    A basic brochure website to me should actually be “cheap”. As long as there is no custom development, no application development, no architecture, no CMS. A budget wise person looking for a simple brochure website will fare better using free tools that come with templates such as http://www.webs.com and http://www.yola.com . That is the trend in the web sphere: Simple, cheap, effective web based tools to create simple websites for the small businessman.

    Reply
  69. DoTheMath

    “If I choose you, how will you ensure that my website attracts, educates, converts and keeps customers for me?”
    ———————————————————
    Let me say that most customers looking for web site design or marketing in Zimbabwe really don’t have the slightest idea of what is involved plus what they want. Are they looking for web design or are they looking for web marketing? 2 separate things. Fine I agree basic search engine submission should be included in a design package. For one to ask for top Google rankings and social apps etc for no extra charge is pure ‘rape’ and designer abuse. Come on …
    Don’t go to the Doctor about your stomach ache AND then expect him to fix your crooked teeth as well! He will refer you to a Dentist. Why should a web designer be expected to design and do S.E.O (Search Engine Optimization) all for the same price?? YES, it will cost the client MORE. It’s a whole different ball game.
    You know it’s funny, in this industry of designing for an online presence, you will find that some companies are better at designing than programming, some better at programming than S.E.O etc. One has to do their research prior to hire.
    It’s not only a web designer to blame for the way some sites look. You tell your client we need to do things this way and to put this here rather than there, but in the end you do what the customer insists on because they are paying. We are in the business to make money.
    Someone mentioned Joomla templates being downloaded and customized for sale. Yes it is happening. Why? Ignorance… Customers (most) have no time to compare their site with the competition locally or internationally. Honestly working with templates is faster than coding from scratch. I prefer the method that shows a more personal and unique touch. But again WE ARE in this business to make money. In a month company X, will sell 15 Joomla sites @ $300 each while company Z, has sold 4 custom sites @ $500 each…Do the math!

    Reply
  70. Honesty

    Ya ne? These Joomla sites are mainly rip-offs because all these designers every do is slap on images and txt all over. You find a site with a log in area that does nothing for the user after they login. Why? Because it comes standard with joomla, customers are tricked into having in for super admin login etc but any WYSIWYG editor will let you change text and pix easily if the site was not a joomla one. Look at http://www.froltech.co.zw/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=67 how can you have a professional company picture gallery with people drinking beer and the pictures blurry ?? Zvinodzikisira company..But I bet the designers got away with a bundle of cash for that rubbish. If you go on the sites menu the spry menu boxes don’t full cover the text inside. Same with http://www.afri-com.com .Huge companies in their industry but poor or ineffective web sites.

    Reply
  71. Max Soutter

    @ DoTheMath Thanks for joining the discussion! I think what’s important to note is that although there is some difference between Web design and web marketing, that difference exists almost entirely in the minds of Web designers!

    In the mind of the customer they are pretty much the same thing because the point of getting a website designed (in vast majority of cases) is to achieve a marketing objective. One of the reasons for this post was to warn and inform these customers that many web designers don’t share – in fact strongly oppose their point of view on what a ‘job well done’ means.

    If you feel the customer expects the wrong thing from you, then you should either

    1) Educate them into lowering that expectation to match your service
    2) Upgrade your service to match the expectation.

    Assuming you did it right, whatever option you chose, the customer would not be robbed and you would not be ‘raped’.

    Thanks again for the comments

    Reply
  72. Max Soutter

    @ MK I agree with you 100% on this. Cheap prices won’t kill the industry. I’d personally have nothing against the guy who charged just $5 for a website – it’s a competitive strategy or perhaps reflective of the value of their offering – either way, it forces the rest of us to justify why we’re charging so much more – that’s business – it’s the same in very many industries.

    Reply
  73. Max Soutter

    @Jizani Thanks for the comment mate.

    If you don’t believe a website can help you keep customers, you should find out more about the importance of RSS feeds, email subscriptions, online newsletters, blogs, membership sites, social forums, online CRM systems, resource sites etc.

    Regular and effective communication/ interaction with your clients will ABSOLUTELY help you KEEP them mate.

    Reply
  74. Taurai

    Ya for sure your poetry sucks Max, but you have written an article that is nothing short of brilliant shamwari!

    It is very obvious from some comments above mine that that not many web professionals understand the angle of the customer, but are engrossed in their own perspectives. I am interested in your services, how can i contact you?

    Reply
  75. Taurai

    Ah Shamwari, that is very silly. You are criticizing someone who is trying to educate you? No wonder. Yours are the kind of websites that are not even available on search engines or else they are not profitable compared with your charges!

    It’s fortunate you did not reveal your real name or business name else you could have lost business for your comments. It’s very easy to talk while hiding your identity. If you are speaking as a true professional would it not make sense to reveal yourself and stand by your statements as Mr Soutter has done?

    I will not be surprised to find out that your own website is insignificant if you even have one.

    Asi you have named yourself properly. You are truly a kid.

    As for you Mr Soutter do not let these confused kinds of people stop you from more success. You have done a good job in teaching us. Those of us who have made money and want to make more can see that you know true business.

    Reply
  76. www.mansheb.co.zw

    Max dont say its about results that you are getting coz you arent getting much business, especially with regards to web design. I would tell you the 10 most popular web design companies in Zimbabwe, and definitely yours is not part of them.

    Your website is hosted for free on wordpress, and you dont even have your own domain, yet you critisize other web designers.

    If you, and i were to be asked to bid for any website, i would definitely win the contract, regardsless of all that you have said.

    You might know so much about web design but definitely not as much as i know, which is the reason why my portfolio is more lucrative than yours.

    Lets not masquerade as if we are the best web designers in the world, instead lets just provide each other with ideas, and advice each other (in a more ammicable manner).

    Reply
  77. www.mansheb.co.zw

    You are complaining that some companies are charging US$200 for designing websites? Soon im launching a software that designs websites in 7 steps, The software, domain registration, emails, and web hosting would just cost US$100. Its not about what others are charging, instead, its about what you feel and how you can stay in business. Remember for you to stay in business, you have to offer a service that yopur customers would love, now what your rivals would love.

    Reply
  78. Taurai

    @Mansheb – Who is complaining about cheap prices? Difficult to see who you are addressing with this comment.

    Reply
  79. Taurai

    @Mansheb, i think you’ve missed the point of this article. I consider the facts laid out in this article, as do many others to be self evident and undeniably true.

    Even if the author did not have a website at all, or even if they were not at all involved in marketing or anything online, the facts in this article are true on their own merit not because of who said them.

    As to whether or not you would win ANY pitch for ANY website against the Business Setup Group, i seriously doubt that. You are MAYBE an experienced designer/programmer, not necessarily good marketer which i can tell from looking at your website.

    I mean when i got on your site i noticed that you don’t even have a clearly/ easily visible cue indicating which website/ company it is, which is terrible from a branding perspective. I thought that was basic logic. As a business person looking for a website, it makes me doubt how effectively you could brand my business.

    Reply
  80. www.mansheb.co.zw

    @Taurai, its not only about brand awareness, infact when it comes to web design brand awareness is definitely so important. The reason being that when companies look for a web designer what they consider has nothing to do with the brand.

    Look for one zimbabwean website that has an excellent brand awareness concept on their website, then compare its portfolio with that of Mansheb.

    Reply
  81. Beaton Nyamapanda

    Good article, however some of the things you are saying are matter of factly and are wrong. Web design is about synergy between design, functionality, ease of use and support and management. If you have a web developer who supports these then higher him by all means.

    The problem with Zim web developers is this trend of using Open source content management that they are not even very gud in, and they they sell them as theirs. Now when a client has a specific need, they cant do it bcoz they dont know how to use it correctly

    Reply
  82. Ransome Mpini

    i’ve just realised that my comments come 3months after the debate heated. i just wanted to add on a little note.

    Web design/development has 3main players – the stakeholder, the user and the designer/developer

    1. stakeholder (businessmen – in it for the money).

    2. the user – in it because they want content. As someone already said before, ‘content is king’. As the website owner ask yourself, “what value am i giving users that they are not getting elsewhere?” Maybe you’re just offering same content as everyone else in town, then find yourself a creative user interaction designer who will ensure your website gives a ‘user experience no one else does’.
    One wonders why i’d choose to travel ‘bluearrow’ instead of ‘chawasarira’ from harare to kwekwe. its all about the experience i get.

    3a. the designer – creative enough to design something that attracts users (creativity definitely needed by this one otherwise resulting website is just a clone of the one next door)
    3b. the developer – implements the designs above most effectively (technical skills definitely needed here because 6months down the line my website still needs to be relevant and if not, then adapting it to be, shouldnt be a mamoth job)

    Reply
    1. CostaJ

      I don’t mind paying for a template if it makes money. Whats the point of an original website that gets no visitors? Yes i know content is a big part of this, so is seo and the like, but really guys. STOP claiming to offer a solution when you are only providing half of it. Be honest. Why should i as a client only find out 6 months later that i needed more than a ‘pretty website’ as Max has said. I didn’t hire you to impress my girl friend with nice design,i hired you because i thought you were providing me with a marketing solution.

      Reply
  83. dave

    guys need to knowwhen u hire a web developer are u hiring them to design a site for u or to market your website coz thats what i thought u would hire MARKEtERS to do

    Reply
    1. Leo Gumbo

      That’s very true. More professional companies will have: 
      Designers: create the design.Web Developers [2 types]> Front End: Do most advanced effects and styling> Back-end: Write the code/business logic and will configure server and   databaseSEO: Someone to optimise content to be unique and make sure they target keywords they want to rank for.Social Marketing: Responsible for marketing website on social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
      In the end it depends what you are after. Are you after a website only, or marketing and building a brand with the website part of the brand building strategy.

      Mostly, to get the best out of a website, you will have to pay more money because its a totaly different job to just building a website. I’ve seen people who have a website already paying £1000 for SEO audit and optimisation. They are not building anything, just re-writing the content.

      Reply
  84. Kunta Kinte

    ma websites are meant to make money full stop . ugly beautiful tables html etc just meant to make money thats all we want to see money , money, if u provide back up that gives traffic reports etf fine but i need traffic to my website guys my sisters’ 7 year old designed a website that is getting serious traffic am sure he is not a programming guru  but he did something he knew kids his age would read 

    Reply
  85. Augie

    This is the best and most honest piece i have read concerning website design in a very long time. The comments are confusing though, they don’t seem to make sense, is this the right order?

    Reply

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