Web Design industry in Egypt
Recently Egypt Monocle had a few technical issues related to hosting and security that needed fixing. For that we turned to a well known company in Web Development and design, El Motaheda Web. El Motaheda was able to fix and secure our web site and help us with the hosting. Se we thought why not ask Ehab Heikal who is its CEO for more information about the Web Design industry in Egypt.
Q-Is Egypt as advanced as the rest of the world when it comes to web design and development?
A-Well in my opinion Egypt has a lot of good developers, many of whom move abroad. The brain drain is a serious issue in this industry. As for graphical designers, we have a severe shortage of talented designers. What is even harder to find is a designer that knows UX or user interface design.
Q-Do you ever have problems when you have multiple clients from the same industry? Do they feel threatened that you might spill their secrets?
A-We are a web design company, by very definition the things we do will be shown all over the internet, we are the opposite of a secretive company. Unlike ad agencies we rarely deal in secret ads that the client wants to make sure that his competitors do not know of before hand. Given that, we still deal in some interactive designs that clients would like to keep exclusive to them. We have had contracts where we signed that a given interactive idea was not to be given to competitors for a year. It all boils down to trust, we do not talk about their competitors other that pointing that we did work for them and showing what is accessible to anyone with an internet connected device and so they know that we will not talk about them in front of their competitors.
Q-What is user interface design?
A-In a nutshell that is the process of designing a web site in a way that makes it easier for the user to get the information or interactivity they want. It seems simple but is a very complex process.
Q-You deal with clients and know the products and services that they order from you what is the thing that they rarely order but is important?
A-Well that is a good question, the biggest thing that most clients do not feel the value of, is having their site in Arabic, most clients only want their web site in English and this is a problem since most of the searches in google in Egypt are in Arabic which is not a big surprise. Our own web site has an Arabic section talking that has all the same web design and development information as our English section and it gets just as many visitors maybe even more. The second most important thing that is rarely ordered is online marketing in general and SEO in particular. While most of our web site design clients in Egypt ask for social marketing these days, they rarely ask for other kinds of online marketing.
“While most of our web site design clients in Egypt ask for social marketing these days, they rarely ask for other kinds of online marketing.”
Q-Ok, you threw a word there, SEO, what is that?
A-SEO is Search engine optimization and it is the process where we help our client’s web sites to show in the first pages of google hopefully ahead of their competitors. This generates visitors and thus leads and sales. The prime target of SEO is usually to rise to the first page of the google results for your keywords. Why google, because it has the largest market share in search engines, why the first page, well because most people do not get to the second page of results, the first page is where most of the traffic goes to and trough.
Q-What do you recommend design wise to your clients that their web site should look like.
A-Simple. Simple is good, complex animations and layouts are most of the time an unneeded distraction. Also we recommend to clients that they have a mobile view of the web site. Nearly half of google searches now happen on a mobile or tablet device. Most clients often overlook the utility of videos in their web site development and in online marketing in Egypt. Video is costly to produce professionally, and many clients feel that semi professional video will give them a bad image. The reality of the Internet is that people are much less picky now about video quality, it is better to produce a cheap but decent quality video than not at all. Videos embedded within a page will help the page rank better in google and will give the visitor to a web site more content to consume.
And let us not underestimate the power of video testimonials of your clients. Most clients are camera shy, but if you get them to testify that your product or service is great in a video that helps a lot in building trust online.
Q-How do you price your work?
A-In reality what we sell is our time. We estimate the time a job takes and price accordingly. That means that clients that change their minds a lot or need a high overhead due to the acceptance cycle of work will get more expensive offers for what seems to be the same work. We also have some close trusting clients such a UBF the owning company of Cinnabon in Egypt where we work on an hourly contract basis.
Q-Will web sites actually help Egypt export more?
A-Yes, but it is not only web sites, it is online marketing in General that helps a company become an international player.
Q-If a company has a limited budget which is more important Facebook and social media or a web site design and online ads?
“Well for a b2b company a well developed and designed web site and online marketing is much more important than social media in my opinion”
A-Well for a b2b company a well developed and designed web site and online marketing is much more important than social media in my opinion. Search engine traffic and search engine advertising is the most powerful advertising method both online and offline for any B2B or technical or hard to find product. As for B2C if the company does not have a budget for both web site design and social media marketing, then maybe they are not cut to be in the cut throat competitive market place of B2C.
Q-Should all companies develop a mobile application?
A-Well this answer goes against our best interest to maximize sales of mobile applications. First of all the client needs to be very honest with themselves in regards to what their product or service is in the life of their clients, it is as close to an existential question as you will ever get in the business world. If you are a part of the routine of your client on a daily or weekly or even if you are pushing it monthly basis then you start thinking about a mobile application. Since if you are not a part of the routine of your client then such an app will be uninstalled minutes after it is used for the first time, that is if it ever gets installed. If you are a part of your clients routine, then if your application provides a value add to your client’s experience or a reduction in their order time then by all means go for it. For example if you are a good pizza restaurant with many repeat clients, having a mobile app that makes ordering fast and painless is a big plus.
But if you are not a part of the routine of your client a mobile app will not hurt your business but it will be money better spent on getting a better web site design or maybe SEO so that new and existing clients can find you easier through google.
Q-Is there any one resource that you would recommend to aspiring web designers?
A-The best web site to visit daily like you would visit news sites if you are a web designer is www.smashingmagazine.com.
Q-Will virtual reality change the internet and your business? Especially that Internet heavy weights like google and Facebook are behind it now?
A-It is too early to tell, case in point, google glasses project which after years of development they abandoned. VR will revolutionize the hard core gaming industry, but the internet is another game. Too many people use the internet everywhere, and you can not take your VR gear eve
rywhere, at least not within the current technological constraints for the next 5 or 10 years. Still we expect many in the real estate industry to incorporate VR parts in their web site design and development. For real estate it makes much sense. You can find out about a project anywhere but when you go back home you can through VR feel as if you are there. The tourism industry may also adopt it also for the same reason to check out the “real estate” of hotels, see their rooms, their amenities in detail before you book.