I am sure many of you must be laughing after reading the title of this blog post. But on a serious note if you closely look at how the web design culture is shaping up in Nepal you’ll realize the bitter truth. When a client asks website designers in Nepal how much time and money will they charge for a website, their answer will be around 80 – 150 hours and service fee for about 80 – 150 hours.
When a client asks a Nepali web developer how much time and money they will charge for a website, their typical answer will be around 8 – 25 hours and service fee for about 8 – 25 hours.
So naturally for a country whose average annual income is USD 862, budget is a huge factor when seeking such services. They will obviously want to go with the web developers.
There’s another fact that I found out recently. The design jobs that are being outsourced to Nepal are less than five percent of the total outsourced jobs. Web design works are hardly sent to Nepal these days. The developed countries hardly believe that Nepal has a web design ecosystem that can address their needs. In the absence of outsourced jobs, the local market should have contributed to the flourishing of web design works but as mentioned above its marred by the low-cost budget that most clients offer.
So why is it that a Nepali web developer is able to produce websites in such a short span of time while a web designer takes so much time? Before I explain to you on this it's important to understand the job roles of these two professions.
A web designer is one who uses graphic design tools like Photoshop to create a look for the web. They need to be creative, should be able to visualize colors, be imaginative, and have a strong understanding of typography, spacial relationships, audience, and user experience. Often web designers are considered right-brained.
Developers, historically, don’t focus on making something look visually appealing but create websites with clean code that are technically sound. Web developers are considered as left-brained workers whose strengths are logical thinking and technical abilities.
So getting back to the point of how developers are able to build websites in such a short span of time. The reality is the time to design, develop and deploy a website would be the same. But the difference would lie in the processes. Developers who are delivering websites within a week are the ones who are entirely skipping the design and front-end processes. So basically what they are doing is using ready-made themes that save them around 2-3 months of design and front-end work for those kinds of themes.
There’s nothing wrong with providing clients with ready-made theme websites. In fact, I would say it's a good move to introduce clients to the online world. But what most Nepali web developers do not educate or explain properly to the clients is the processes involved. Most Nepali clients believe that the websites that have been built within a week are also original work and exclusively designed for them.
In the race for the survival of the fittest, Nepali web designers are having a pretty tough time accommodating. Try and find an experienced freelance web designer in Nepal and you won’t find many. The number of exceptional web designers in Nepal in my assumption is probably less than 500. And of those scarce numbers, many are probably planning to go abroad very soon.
Meanwhile, web developers are flourishing and doing extremely well as freelancers or small start-ups. The number of web & software developers in Nepal is probably in the range of 10 to 50 thousand. Each year around ten thousand Nepali students enroll in IT programs as compared to around a thousand enrolling in Fine Arts.
Traditionally a country known for its painters and sculptors is still doing relatively well in terms of handicrafts, but when it comes to website designing or graphics designing, Nepal is somewhat left behind.
Designers like Swapnil Acharya are hardly taking on any local projects. It's the Silicon Valley projects that interest them and there’s a good reason for such a mentality.
If we really care about developing a web design ecosystem in Nepal then here are some of the approaches which should help them in their survival:
I recently came across one lady who had just opened a Montessori School. She approached around 15 IT companies in Nepal for logo design work but none of them could impress her. Ultimately a foreign colleague of hers helped her design one.
What do you think could have happened?
Well, all those 15 companies whose core work must have been web development and not design still went on to take the logo design job. Most of them were probably desperate to land the job and as a result, created an impression that Nepali designers aren’t up to the mark.
So it's important that before developers take on any website project, they educate the client properly about how they will be building the website. Whether their website is going to be built exclusively or will be built on a ready-made theme. If they are looking for exclusivity direct them to a professional Nepali designer for the creative part.
Educate our Nepali clients that good quality websites take time to design & develop.
What do you think is the average time to design a creative, professional website?
Most Nepali companies will claim that they can deliver graphic design and front-end work in between 5 to 10 days. But if you look at international digital agencies they will ask for at least 1-2 months.
Well, international agencies put so much homework into the project before conceiving and coming up with a design solution that their projects hardly fail. They follow the standard design process of mapping out the content and expected functionality, create a sitemap accordingly, develop an interactive prototype to ensure both the design team and the client are on the same page, and only then proceed with the design.
They have excellent Quality Control processes in place thus ensuring everything that comes out of their lab is world-class and perfectly done.
Do not steal the designs & HTML work.
With so much free stuff readily available on the internet and a Nepali culture of using most software and tools for free, we assume that we can own everything for free and can copy and use it for our own commercial purpose. If we really want Nepali website designers to thrive and grow then let's make sure that we at least do not steal or copy their work.
Encourage website designers in Nepal to sell their website designs through Marketplaces.
One of the beauties of the internet is that it allows talented people to reach out to a global audience. If web designers aren’t always hired for exclusive designs, then why not design themes for the developer communities? For web designers to survive in today’s web market it's important that they adapt their designs to marketplaces like ThemeForest or TemplateMonster. Theme design companies in Nepal are on the rise and this is going to be a great way for the designers to up their talent and sharpen their skills.
Discourage the use of cookie-cutter cheap websites.
Explain to your customers how a cookie-cutter cheap website would take away their business's uniqueness. From my experience even in a Nepali market business owners and organization heads are willing to invest in a serious online presence. The only thing that they need is an assurance that every penny that they are investing is worth it.
Up your skill sets and learn at least front-end development.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
As a web designer, it's now important that you also add skills like HTML & CSS to your arsenal.
That way you can be competent enough and also be able to get jobs not just related to design but also development.
If you are a creative web designer and still in Nepal then know that you are very much in demand. Most companies are looking for web designers who can come up with excellent designs. I would suggest instead of trying to pursue your career as a freelancer try working for a IT company but make sure they offer you a decent salary. If you think you haven’t been offered the right salary as yet then do reach out to send your resume to different website designing companies with your expected salary and I am sure many would gladly take you in.