Web design in Vietnam ( Ho Chi Minh city ) - Nilead company
Web design in Vietnam

Web design in Vietnam


Vu Nguyen
web-design-in-vietnamFor 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, we 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, we will try our best to give you un-biased reviews and instructions on how to pick the best solution for your next website project.

There is no shortage of IT talents in Vietnam, in 2015 Cushman & Wakefield releases global comprehensive report which ranks Vietnam at the world’s premier destination for business process outsourcing. Two years passed, and Vietnam is still one of the top destinations for IT service outsourcing. In fact, several of the global top tech companies have opened offices in Vietnam to take advantage of the growing IT work force.

The trend in web design in Vietnam has also changed dramatically in these recent years. While a large number of businesses still have not realized the importance of brand building via website tools, the market now has quite a few web design agencies with world level creative teams. In fact, many of the best selling items on Evanto Market are "made in Vietnam".

A quick search can show a number of noteworthy web agencies in Vietnam (listed in no order), and you can see via their portfolio that most follow the style we described above.


Mobile first when it comes to websites for Vietnam


While the majority of the website in Vietnam is still 10 years behind the world with generic layout, unfriendly design, incompatible web pages, things are changing quickly. A number of business owners have realized that website is a useful tool, and a worthy investment to quickly reach potential clients. In Vietnam, there are 140 million mobile cellular subscriptions. That’s 1.5 cellphones for every one person. Retailers in Vietnam are selling more smartphones than feature phones, with the number of smart phone users quickly approaching 30% of the population. With cheap data plans and the new 4G coming, now it's time to go mobile in Vietnam and now it has never been easier (and competitive) to reach the audience online.

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.

web design in Vietnam
“ Website is quickly becoming an essential marketing channel in Vietnam. ”

Vietnamese companies do not invest in website design


Many websites in Vietnam look like they were made 10 years ago with busy, cluttered design and and terrible user experience. You may think this is limited to just small companies in Vietnam, and you 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 freaking difficult it is to navigate and use their sites.

To respond to this emphasis on price, many digital agencies here resort to 2 options:
  1. Use pre-designed & pre-developed templates to cut down the time and cost of website projects.
  2. Invest little or no time in research, design, and development.
In my opinion, both options are equally bad, but if you have to choose I would recommend going with option 1. As we 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 result in many hidden issues down the road that will soon bite you back in the future not so far away.

There is one HUGE issue with using 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 details 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 we 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.
Web design in Vietnam - BIDV
“ 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:

website design in Vietnam
“ This is the website of Pepsi co in Vietnam. ”

web design in Ho Chi Minh HCMC
“ And here is the website of Unilever Vietnam. ”
In fact, in many cases the small players seem to invest more in the image of the website while the big guys don't seem to find it necessary to put their effort in 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 take place. From our experience, we found most big businesses do not care enough (or have 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.

Do you want to grow your online business?

Contact us today, we will work with you to come up with a plan and a proposal. No commitment required on your side.

Website design in Vietnam is largely impacted by its culture


If you have a chance to go to a local market in Vietnam, you can see the many colors it has. Vietnamese culture is strongly influenced by Chinese culture due to the history and close proximity of the two neighbor countries. This cultural background deeply affects how we pick and choose the color patterns when we work with our partners who want to target the Vietnam market. However, Vietnam also inherits and absorbs Western styles during its journey to search for independence and modernization. This specific type of cultural mix presents us with barriers and challenges but also opportunities and chances to experiment and discover new things.

Most web design agencies in Vietnam are taking inspiration from Western style design, especially the American design style to be specific. This comes at no surprise as most of the world leading websites come from the US and the Vietnamese people are more associated with the US (Hollywood) culture. Western European design style is a rarity here in Vietnam mostly due to low-key appearance of famous European brands as well as the mostly minimalist and mono-color style that does not resonate with Vietnamese people's love for colors and noise.

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. We are 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). We look forward to seeing this to rise as a unique design trend of Vietnam, for Vietnam, similar to what we see in the other similar markets such as Japan and China.

website design in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
“ A typical colorful scene at a local market in Vietnam. ”

There are limitations when designing a website for Vietnamese audience


The Vietnamese language tends to be a bit more verbose than English for example, which usually causes the navigation to look a bit more cluttered. The Vietnamese alphabet (chữ quốc ngữ) is a Latin alphabet with additional diacritics for tones and certain letters. As you may have guessed, there is a very limited number of fonts that support the display of Vietnamese alphabet which vastly reduce the choices for the designers.

As noted, colors play a big role in designing in Vietnam, and the designers should equip himself deep understanding of various meanings of colors and how they can be associated with other social aspects. There have been cases where we were told to use or not to use certain colors because they may not play well with the birth year of the owners. 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).


Most websites in Vietnam use open-source platforms


Many businesses in Vietnam often ask for the full source-code for the websites and most digital agencies opt for open-source platforms for that reason. Among the most used open-source website platforms in Vietnam are:

  1. Wordpress (Blog, Personal, Corporate website)
  2. Joomla (Personal, Corporate website)
  3. Drupal (Corporate website)
  4. Magento (eCommerce website)
  5. OpenCart (eCommerce website)
  6. Prestashop (eCommerce website)
Most business owners in Vietnam consider the websites one-off projects which leads to many website design service providers in Vietnam not offering maintenance and further promotion and development packages. The usual process of a web design and development process in Vietnam is:
  1. Design
  2. Development
  3. Deployment
The website is often deployed to a server of the client's choice and full permission and management of the host and the website will be transfered to the client. By keeping everything on the local servers or servers that they own, businesses create a false sense of security and data integrity for themselves because they do not trust service providers in dealing with data. This is usually the case when business owners consult with their own in-house IT or IT influencers who usually recommend owning everything on the company's own data-grid. However, this proves to be a disaster down the road for many businesses in Vietnam for several reasons:
  1. Most businesses in Vietnam are SMEs without capable in-house IT teams specialized in the web. In 99% of the cases, the website will be left the way it is without any security and software upgrade for as long as it is still online (or until it gets hacked which happens more often that you may want to believe).
  2. Setting up and maintaining the infrastructure of a website is a complex and on-going process. There are many softwares involved under the hood to keep the website running smoothly and securely. In-house IT, even if present and with the skills, usually do not have sufficient time to take care of all this since they are usually tasked with other things as well.


Websites in Vietnam are not used to their full potential


Many business owners in Vietnam tasks a web agency or freelancer to do a website just because they think it's something necessary to put on the business card. The website is usually not given lots of thoughts, preparation and care during the planning, design, and development process. A website is not a one-off project. After the launch of the website then comes the content management, SEO improvements, User Experience measurement and optimization,... Most businesses that do not focus 100% on the online channel do not have the expertise and resources to manage all these tasks. Once launched, most websites are left un-maintained, out-dated, and not fully used to their full potential. This is a sad fact and a huge waste of resources for the owners of the websites as well as the people who visit these websites to look for useful information. There are several factors that affect this:
  1. Most business owners do not have enough information and understanding about the website, how it works and how it can help them to grow their businesses.
  2. Most companies consider website a cost, not an investment because they lack the knowledge and experience (as well as the determination) to track, measure and improve the Return on Investment of the website.
  3. Managing a website can be a very overwhelming and time-consuming task. Most businesses do not have dedicated teams to take care of the website or digital marketing due to budget constraints.

The cost of having a custom web design services in Vietnam is still high compared to the general cost, and that forces many businesses to resort to using cheap and low quality web services. A custom, high quality website has to come with a high price tag and lengthy project duration. And that is reasonable, because a high-end custom web design requires a highly skilled and experienced design team and development team working for months from start to end. But can't a high-end, custom made website be more affordable?
website design in Ho Chi Minh city
“ We empower everyone for the world wide web. ”

Located at the center of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city, the Southern tech hub, arguably the largest of Vietnam country, Nilead team is inspired to solve this problem. We do not want to simply be a web design/development agency, we want to be a website solution provider. Our vision is to provide high quality custom web design services that are affordable to empower businesses to go online and to connect to their users. Our Nilead platform, or website design, and its growing eco-system is our answer to this problem:

  • A powerful platform that can flexibly build all types of complicated system.
  • Hosted solution that can take away all the troubles of dealing with security and hosting.
  • Full website management services that assist businesses in growing their business online.
  • An eco-system that provides the necessary tools for businesses to grow.
  • Professional yet cost efficient web solution for small businesses (coming soon)

The website design in Vietnam is maturing and slowly transforming into the next generation. We believe that the next big things in Vietnam will have everything to do with technologies and especially with the web. We cannot wait to see more and more changes come to this 100 million people market to improve people's lives, to connect everyone together.

about the author


Vu Nguyen
Vu Nguyen
Vu Nguyen is an entrepreneur, a developer, and a founder of nilead.com. While his love is in the backend website development work, his experience covers eCommerce (being both a real online store owner and a developer), Search Engine Optimization, UX Design and Content Strategy.

Since 2005, Vu Nguyen has led and directed UX design, full-stack development teams on projects large and small for corporations, start-ups, individuals and more. He was involved in every task of each project, from idea to concept and vision, prototype, detailed design, build and deployment.