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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.
In this article, I will give you a brief overview of the current stage of Website Design Industry in Vietnam, a few things to note if you want to utilize the services here or need to launch websites that target this market. As a Digital Service Provider ourselves, I will try my best to give you unbiased reviews and instructions on how to pick the best solution for your next website project.
(I used to have a long list of other agencies at this section, but I found it difficult to keep the list up-to-date with many agencies coming and going. A quick google search should give you some good results).
For business owners, this means that when it comes to website design services in Vietnam, most of the service providers should be already familiar with Responsive and Adaptive website designs and what it takes to design and develop websites that work on multiple devices.
“ Website is quickly becoming an essential marketing channel in Vietnam. ”
Many websites in Vietnam look like they were made 10 years ago with busy, cluttered designs and terrible user experience. You may think this is limited to just small companies in Vietnam, and you will find yourself dead wrong. Many of the worst websites in Vietnam belong to huge companies in various industries. It seems like these businesses never use their own websites and online services just to see how difficult it is to navigate and use their sites.
The cost of designing a website in Vietnam is quite reasonable compared to the rest of the world; I have an article that covered the website design pricing in Vietnam which may give you a hint. When it comes to website design services in Vietnam, there can be a huge difference among the price quotes from different service providers. Most businesses would opt for cheaper quotations due to the lack of understanding of how service providers calculate the cost of a website and the differences among the options. To respond to this emphasis on price, many digital agencies here resort to 2 options:
In my opinion, both options are equally bad, but if you have to choose I would recommend going with option 1. As I have covered in our website templates vs custom designs, with templates at least you will get something decent for a reasonable price. The same does not apply when you skim your time on design and especially development which usually results in many hidden issues down the road that will soon bite you back in the future not so far away.
I have covered in great detail the various options for website design and platforms to choose from with pros and cons for each option. If you are planning for a new website, please make sure to check it out before making any decision.
Beware of the cheaters. Some website design agencies may claim that they create bespoke websites for their customers while what they actually do is modifying pre-made templates with a few minor changes. This action is unfair for both the businesses and other agencies that actually do a proper job. Authentic Web design & Digital Marketing agencies need to be upfront with the clients if they are going to use templates/pre-made elements or not.
There is one obvious issue with using the template approach
Using the template approach will go against everything that website development best practices tell us: Content goes before Design. I have covered this topic in great detail in another article Content first approach website design, please check it out if you are ready to start a new website project and haven't heard about it. If you really have to use templates, I suggest that you should still start with Content first, then based on your Content you can pick the most appropriate template design.
Take a look below as I list a few examples of big websites in Vietnam that skimmed on the research, design, and development phases. Some of them are disasters for the eyes, some are just impossible to use.
“ This is the e-banking portal of BIDV, one of the biggest banks in Vietnam. You may notice the year in the screenshot, yes it still looks exactly the same after 7 years. Please imagine me as a website developer spent 1 full hour trying figure out how to use its e-banking service with all the worst cursing and yelling you can imagine. ”
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 Pepsi co in Vietnam. ”
“ And here is the website of Unilever Vietnam. ”
Having said that, templates are a great option if you need to save money and time. Because the templates are already redesigned and precoded, they can be quickly deployed to fit your brand's style and content. If you go with the template option, I strongly recommend that you spend time looking for a template that matches your needs as much as possible.
In fact, in many cases, the small players seem to invest more in the image of the website while the big guys don't seem to find it necessary to put their effort into making a great online experience for their visitors. Website design, when done right, requires true commitment from both the owners (stakeholders) and the web design service providers. The research phase of the website project alone can be longer than 2 weeks and requires multiple workshops and brainstorming sessions.
Take a look at our case study for Furniture Online Shopping Website to see how the research and planning process for a website usually takes place. From my experience, I found most big businesses do not care enough (or have a dedicated team) to work with us during the research and design process while the small businesses do not have the budget for this activity.
Hint: For small businesses to stand out (and it's really easy to beat the big players on the web), you can make time to do your own research and planning. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for free consulting services, and our articles section is a great starting resource to learn more about websites and how to plan for your next website project.
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 neighboring countries. This cultural background deeply affects how I pick and choose the color patterns when I 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 design style to be specific. This comes as 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. The western European design style is a rarity here in Vietnam mostly due to the low-key appearance of famous European brands as well as the most minimalist and mono-color style that does not resonate with Vietnamese people's love for colors and noise.
Recently, there is a new trend of design that mixes the modern style with Vietnam's cultural elements and values to create a unique design of Vietnam and for Vietnam. I'm seeing this trend being applied mostly to traditional products such as herbs, medicines, foods as well as organic produces (which has recently become a trend in Vietnam). I look forward to seeing this rise as a unique design trend of Vietnam, for Vietnam, similar to what I see in the other similar markets such as Japan and China.
“ A typical colorful scene at a local market in Vietnam. ”
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 the Vietnamese alphabet which vastly reduces the choices for the designers.
As noted, colors play a big role in designing in Vietnam, and the designers should equip themselves with a deep understanding of various meanings of colors and how they can be associated with other social aspects. There have been cases where I was told to use or not to use certain colors because they may not play well with the birth year of the owners. If you come from the Western culture this may sound absurd to you, but this belief comes from Feng-shui and Chinese astrology which plays important role in the decision-making process of many business owners (especially with ones from Northern provinces such as Ha Noi).
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:
You may not need a website yet. I have outlined many other alternatives for going online without a website. If you still believe that you need a website, don't rush to spend your money with an agency yet. If you are short on cash and willing to do most of the work yourself, I strongly recommend looking into website builders. Website builders are great tools to help you create and deploy websites online. There are quite a few local website builders in Vietnam, but I strongly recommend going with established names such as SquareSpace, Wix, or Webflow.
Please do note that some of these website builders do not support multiple languages by default, which can be a key feature in Vietnam. Even WordPress has sloppy support for multiple languages, with the necessity to purchase a commercial plugin such as WPML. Multiple language support is one of the features that we support out-of-the-box with our Nilead website platform.
Is your company considering redesigning its website? Perhaps your current website is not performing as well as it should? I recently wrote an article containing tons of tips for maximizing your website's return on investment.
The cost of having custom web design services in Vietnam is still considered high because most businesses are not using their websites to get Return on Investment. The agencies (including us) should take at least half of the blame for that. For a long time, designers and developers simply take the requests from the customers without analyzing the real business motivation behind the website.
At Nilead, we understand that a solid website builder platform is key to manage and grow your online business. We offer Visual Website Builder, CRM, Ticket Support, and Automation tools with FREE technical support, FREE feature update, backup, and maintenance.
Any budget can be met by our enterprise-level design options, including bespoke and template options. Maintaining a website IT team in-house is proving to be difficult? Nilead ensures that your marketing campaigns and sales push are successful with reliable website support services.
Our approach ensures that we:
If you are looking for a reliable partner in Vietnam, please drop us a message. We will be more than happy to discuss your needs and share our experience.