That sound you heard was the recession slamming into web design like a Mack truck. Despite the glimmer of hope at the start of the year, by the second quarter of 2016 everything dropped sheer off the edge of the cliff. Yes, website design in Trinidad & Tobago took a nosedive like you wouldn’t believe.
I can’t speak for my competitors of course, but there was a high probability that I’ve been getting the lion’s share of website business last year and if I’ve taken such a hit, chances are they’ve taken a bigger one. Mind you, there is an outside chance that it’s not as bad as I’m making out, but it sure feels that way!
Anyway, as always, this is my perspective from where I sit, and it ain’t pretty…
1st Quarter 2016- Website Design Optimistic
In early 2016 I reported an unusual number of old clients coming out of the woodwork asking to update their websites. What made it unusual was that the usual number was zero in a new year. For the past few years it was actually unheard off to have clients updating their sites after they launched. Glimmer of hope or gasp of last breath?
Web design inquiries drop by 50%
Forward Multimedia is at the top of Google for every major industry keyword so it’s a given that I’m always among the first of local web designers to get the call or email when someone searches. All during last year I was always bombarded and inundated with calls and inquires, but come 2016, well, it’s slowed to a trickle.
Clients still want website updates
Old clients however, continued to ask for site updates and I believe it had to be because they already had their sites and didn’t have to fork out for a new site like other companies. Credit to all of them for making the website investment back then to now lean on for an edge they need in the face of the declining T&T economy. In hindsight, I’m sure that many companies are now regretting a similar investment in the time of plenty.
Size of website design projects scaled back
Last year was dominated by large projects with my Premium website design package but this year would have no such domination. Instead, my middle Corporate Site package became the go-to choice even for larger companies who I know could afford to go all the way. But that’s a clear indication of the uncertainty of the business climate.
E-Commerce treading water
Business websites are one thing but shelling out the big bucks for an online store would be out of the question and I have no argument there. Not that making such an investment would be a bad decision, it won’t be, but I can understand the apprehension to do so.
Still interest in setting up online stores
I still got many inquires and continue to do so. Many are PayPal related and it appears that there is still a lot of interest to set up online stores but more on a small scale. This has prompted me to look for a more affordable solution instead of Magento which is expensive and a bit complicated. I’m looking to using WordPress instead, which I’ll explain at the end of this article.
2nd Quarter 2016- Website Design Pessimistic
By the end of March, when the realization dawned that we’re in for a long hard road, enter the speeding Mack truck, BAM! Falling oil prices, murders, inept government, international turmoil, all signs pointing to the end of the world, where does that leave web design? It leaves web design behind, sniff, sniff, ‘suskay’, O gawd ah go dead! (if you don’t know what ‘suskay’ is, send me a message :))
Web design inquiries dry up
Not that having a website is a luxury, but the uncertainty has taken its toll. There are so many other ways to spend limited financial resources in the face of a recession. Websites are viewed as passive marketing and businesses need money in their hands which they believe can only be gained by active marketing, so no more investment on websites.
Instead, they invest in direct marketing tactics— newspaper ads, radio, for offline selling and free online advertising via social media, namely Facebook where they can engage more with potential customers to capitalize on leads and close a sale.
Companies with websites still want updates
Existing clients continue to call for updates for the same reason I mentioned above that they already have websites so cost is minimal and affordable to update. Non-clients with websites who want a competitive advantage only Forward Multimedia can give are also calling.
E-Commerce still in the game
There is no reason to rule out E-Commerce despite the recession. Forward thinking entrepreneurs can still smell an opportunity, that’s why they are called entrepreneurs. The last thing you want to do is use the economy as the scapegoat for why an online store won’t work. Trinis are still living and going about their business, so you you should go about yours, literally!
Rest of 2016- Outlook till the end of the year
Yes the world isn’t sunshine and roses, you’ve gotten hit but how far can you still keep moving? We had a nice ride and this is the way the world works, boom and slump, always cyclical, you ride the wave till it falls but it always rises again. How do we know? We’ve seen it in Trinidad & Tobago many times before and this time is no different.
Outlook for business websites
Barring some miracle, the forecast is that Trinidad & Tobago will remain in recession well into next year. Businesses will view a company website as discretionary spending easily put on the backburner. However, they’ll be doing so reluctantly, knowing full well that they do need it and shouldn’t be putting it off.
I anticipate stops and starts, a good month and a not-so-good month, enough to keep chugging away without stalling and having to ‘hold mih head an bawl’. The difference will be the companies’ mindset— expense or investment, and there will always be both even if size of investment is scaled back.
Outlook for E-Commerce
Entrepreneurs, established businesses, larger companies and those with the financial resources (and there are still many with deep pockets despite the recession), will continue to invest in online stores because the local online market is still waiting to be tapped.
Affordable E-Commerce Store with WordPress
The constant questions I get about PayPal are from individuals and small businesses who are interested in E-Commerce but looking for an affordable and simple online payment solution. By this I mean affordable to set up and simple to integrate. PayPal is too much of a headache in my opinion and I’ve decided to look for an inexpensive way to offer the TT Dollar payment gateway now available at all four major local banks.
At the moment I’m doing my first integration using the WordPress platform and I’ll do a full report on it along with costing which is by far cheaper than the Magento platform.
Outlook for Forward Multimedia
Well, what can I say. The recession has hit me as well but I have to take it like a man. I’m fortunate to have put in the work in advance that I can weather it at this time. I’m doing nothing else but depending on my top Google rank and solid portfolio to do the jobs they are supposed to. And I’m doing this deliberately to prove to you what I’ve been preaching these past years, that your website CAN work for you.
I believe companies will still choose Forward Multimedia because I really am good at what I do, I have the site and portfolio to prove it, and when they talk to me, well, there’s no doubt that I know what I’m doing.
I have a few big projects underway and a mega E-Commerce project that’s going to blow everyone away, and I’ll be writing an entire article about it very soon. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be a local Amazon done the right way. You hear that? A local Amazon!
We can’t roll over and die, the world isn’t ending (actually it is, but not for quite some time). Like I said, we just have to ride the wave, and in this case, the crash, which means that the wave will eventually come. Trinis will be Trinis, laid back as ever, still hitting the malls, movies and beaches, taking things as they come. So despite the gloomy picture I just painted, doh worry man, ev’ry ting goin to be awright!