"Website Designing and Development" and Mid Sized Businesses in Pakistan

I remember well that in 1999/2000, I had engaged more than 300 companies in Karachi asking them to get their websites designed for their companies. But, this campaign ended up without a single converted sale. This was maybe due to my poor selling capabilities or none of these companies were actually aware of what difference a website could make for their business.

Over the years, the scenario has dramatically changed. We see thousands of Pakistani websites, with variety in nature and content. But unfortunately, we still lack in online businesses in many ways. For example, there are plenty of websites, which are not well organized or they lack must have information section; others are copy/pasting the content, and many bear errors (technical or what we call them coding errors).

I understand that main reason for all such flaws is the budget that our companies allocate for their websites. Also, they do very little home work in identifying their requirements. Furthermore, they do little research for development services. Most of the time, we ask our cousins, friend of a cousin, or a freelancer without any proven record to develop our website; instead of going to a recognized software house.
How to start the Process?

What exactly a business company should ask from a Freelancer / Software House before signing website development agreement?

The first step for a business company is that it must check the Portfolio and Profile of Webmaster, software house, or the freelancer so that they know the level aesthetic sense/creativity.

To further clear a concept, a web developer is different than web designer. By definition, a web developer is the one who writes the code for the backend files of your website, while a web designer actually designs the front end, layout, image allocation and other things that would be visible to your visitors.

(In Pakistan, you may come across web developers who are designers as well)

You must be confident enough about the creativity in web designers, as design plays an important role because layout always represent the image of Corporate look or an artistic look or a combination.

Secondly, a business company should ask from webmaster about the web designing contents, like if they are going to use proper html/xhtml coding, so that your pages would appear in search engines by default. Are they providing you the feedback forms? Is the webmaster using more images, flash work or heavy images? etc.

Once you are done with your webmaster selection, and you are pretty sure that this specific webmaster is the one that you were looking for, next comes in the part where you need to tell him/her/them about your requirements. It is noted that this part is badly missing in many cases, as webmasters are not clear about what their client is looking for, and all this end up with a mess that can’t be recollected. So note down all the things that you expect your website to do for you, go in deep details to explain each and every requirement, and make sure that webmaster is following you very well.

The main issue in my opinion is that a Business Company never makes their scope of website. It has to realize a business company that a webmaster is only master in designing & coding, they never know about your business ups and downs. I, most of the time, meet with the Business Companies who think that we know all the details of their products and their models as well.

Okay, we assume you are done with requirements, planning and website is being rolled out. Here your webmaster will ask you for content so that he/she/they may upload it on your website. Make sure that you are well communicating with webmaster at this level too, or this gap may end up leaving you in a crap.

As per my personal experience, I know that this is stage when most of the projects get failed, due to clashes between webmasters and companies. You may lose your advance payment by the way; so make sure that everything is well planned and all communication is clear like anything.

This is the time when a Business Company start blaming IT people and they consider more about pricing with other webmaster.

So now at this stage, consider you are done with website deployment, and everything worked out as it was planned, at this phase, you may start feeling yourself at the top of the world, and may feel that business will come in from all over the world. You are mistaken if this is the case…!

(We will inshAllah cover this topic sometime soon, on how to get maximum response from your website)

A major issue that hiders the process of web designing is that a Business Company always tries to interface in the design section. For example, a webmaster designs a website with a balanced layout, having navigation at proper places with good header and a big banner on the website – but Business Company makes it weird by replacing the content from one side to other or making things more vibrant by changing the colors. Believe me the output will be funnier and out of balance, as you are not the designer, it’s the one whom you hired. Let him do the work or tell him at first place about your preferences about the design and color schemes.

What exactly a Business Company and a Webmaster has to do? They both have to pay their part in a proper way. A Business Company must know their work at their own part to provide the website data in category wise in soft format along with relevant images, so that in webmaster are not blamed for using irrelative images. It’s necessary for webmasters to put down everything in black and white with a business company before the agreement in proposal.

I will also talk about the website as a business in Pakistan in my next article.