The digital age has enabled companies to have an online presence all over the world. And with fewer geographical boundaries, companies are now more than ever looking to reach a global audience.
But creating an international website is no mean feat. It requires careful attention to many aspects, including user experience, language, security, and above all, a transparent process that engages the customer at every stage of the project.
Creating a website, whether for a local or international market, is a complex process that requires close collaboration between an agency and a customer.
With the evolution of digital technology, the role of web design agencies has undergone radical change. In this context, the human element is now more important than the technical and it's no longer a question of simply delivering a finished product, but of building a lasting relationship based on co-construction, transparency, and customer training.
In this article, we'll explore these changes in more detail, looking at the issues that arise in the relationship between customer and agency, and the solutions that need to be put in place. So, how can a company create this transparent process?
Creating a website: A universal challenge
Every company, large or small, needs an effective and relevant website, whether it's aimed at a local or international audience. Creating a website raises the same issues, whatever the size of the audience.
User Experience (UX) at the heart of website design
The objective of any website is to offer a fluid, intuitive, and pleasant user experience. The design must be logical, but also functional and adapted to the target audience.
Ease of navigation, clarity of information, and speed of loading - these are just some of the many factors that influence user satisfaction and, consequently, their commitment to the brand.
A seamless process requires an optimized customer journey. This means that every step of the customer journey must be designed with the typical user experience of each country in mind. This applies to the entire site, from navigation to completion of a purchase.
Regardless of the size or scope of the site (international or not), a good UX plays a big role in the SEO of one's site and can significantly increase the conversion rate.
SEO content optimized for language and culture
For international websites, the question of website localization is paramount. Content must be adapted to the language, culture, preferences, and expectations of different target audiences.
And Weglot can help you easily translate every page of a website in just a few minutes. This is useful when you need to translate your site into different languages for international growth.
A site that targets different countries also needs to understand the browsing habits of users from those countries to maintain a professional image. And localization goes further than just translation by including the choice of colors, images, date formats, currency, and any unique references to a specific country.
Then there are functionalities such as payment methods, delivery options, etc that must be adapted to each market if you run an ecommerce site.
Good knowledge of these specificities enables you to create relevant content that is consistent with the target market.
Tailor-made functionalities and impeccable security
Your website must offer the functionalities expected by users: payment options, contact forms, user comments, etc.
In addition to that, security is a key issue. Security is also a major issue. Users must be able to navigate and carry out transactions in complete confidence. Web agencies must therefore implement robust security solutions that comply with current standards.
The HTTPS protocol, regular updates, and 2-factor authentication are just some of the security best practices to be observed on every site worldwide.
However, for an international site, the average number of cyber-attacks and regulations differ from country to country. So you'll need to be extra vigilant.
Towards customer-agency co-construction
The aim of co-construction is to involve the customer throughout the project by working hand in hand on production. It's a process based on transparency, the exchange of ideas, and the adjustment of solutions according to customer feedback.
Customer involvement: A change in relationship
In the past, the relationship between a customer and a web agency was fairly straightforward: the customer announced a budget, and the agency delivered a product. But this dynamic has changed radically. Today, the customer feels the need to be involved throughout the creative process, to validate each stage with the agency.
By involving the customer at every stage of the project, the agency enables the customer to feel truly part of the project. This translates into regular updates and checkpoints where the customer can give his opinion and voice his concerns. The customer is no longer passive but proactive in the production of his website.
This change has significant repercussions on the way web agencies operate. They are no longer simply service providers; they have to become true partners. This close collaboration not only aligns objectives and expectations but also ensures that customers are fully invested and satisfied throughout the project. And with that, it means people are now more important than technology.
Customer involvement throughout the site creation process has thus become a key element in the success of the project: the customer is the hero and the agency is the guide.
The importance of communication between a customer and the agency cannot be overlooked in a website creation project. This is particularly true in an international context, where language barriers, cultural differences, and time zones can pose problems.
Validation of project stages
Validation is an essential aspect of communication. The web agency must regularly share the progress of the project: Moodboard, Wireframe, Mock-ups, Content delivery, Development... as well as any problems encountered and solutions envisaged.
This enables the customer to follow the progress of the project, understand the choices made by the agency, and feel involved. Regular updates are therefore essential.
It's also an opportunity for the web agency to demonstrate its professionalism and expertise because sometimes the customer will have recommendations that are not adapted to their initial objectives. For example, they may want design changes, but this will have consequences for the time required or the performance of the future site. In such cases, the agency has to strike the right balance between the customer's wishes and its role as an advisor.
To ensure that the collaboration ends successfully, the best technique is never to move on to the next stage until the current one has been validated by the customer. The agency should make it clear to the customer that once a step has been validated, there is no going back on the previous one. Otherwise, modifications could take forever.
Anticipating errors and misunderstandings
Regular communication also helps to anticipate errors and misunderstandings. Active listening, numerous exchanges and, quite simply, human contact help us to keep working in the right direction. For example, if technical problems or delays arise, healthy communication between the customer and the agency enables them to be tackled quickly, and even anticipated, rather than accumulated.
The two parties also need to work together beforehand. The customer needs to make sure they know their deadlines and expectations. And the agency needs to understand the customer's working environment. For example, is there a team dedicated to content production? Or, how much time can they allocate to the project each day?
Transparency: a confidence-building factor
Transparency is a fundamental value in the customer-agency relationship. It translates into open and honest communication, where costs, deadlines, potential problems, and solutions are clearly discussed.
All project costs must be clearly defined and communicated from the outset. This avoids unpleasant surprises and helps establish a long-term relationship of trust.
Hidden costs have often been a sticking point in client-agency relationships. It's also one of the common factors that arise when a customer is dissatisfied with an agency: paying for bad work doesn't sit well with anyone.
So it's imperative to be transparent about costs from the outset, and make sure the customer understands what they're paying for.
An inaccurate quote
A clear, detailed quote with no hidden costs is the key to establishing a relationship of trust with the customer. Every cost associated with the project, including any maintenance costs, should be included.
It's not uncommon to see poorly detailed quotes sent to potential clients to make it easier for them to sign, which of course is an unethical practice on the part of those web agencies.
Another common practice is to promise a service, but leave certain costs unmentioned because they seem obvious. As a result, end customers are not aware of any additional costs during the project.
A web agency's main objective is often to increase its profits. To achieve this, some agencies resort to deceptive practices, or at least no transparency at all.
A client often has feedback, and you can take advantage of this by charging for each return.
You can also charge for each change. Let's say €700 to change a photo. Or charge for a whole day's work when the request only takes five minutes to resolve. In short, unscrupulous agencies know how to take advantage of customers by providing false information.
Customers now want to know about every stage of the project and be involved in decision-making. This is a big change from how things were previously handled, where the agency made all the decisions and the customer was only informed at the end.
Full transparency in the process is therefore essential. The customer needs to understand the different stages of website creation, the technical and aesthetic choices made, the tools and technologies used, and so on. This allows the customer to take ownership of the project and feel part of its success.
This change over the years is due to poorly thought-out methods. The customer pays for a website but is not always the owner. So when they want to hand it over to a new web agency, they sometimes find themselves stuck because their old agency has retained ownership.
So, for total transparency, customers should own their ecommerce web host / web host, and their subscriptions, and have the site in their own name.
Customer training and empowerment: the key to transparency
Transparency isn't limited to communication, whether at meetings or in writing. It also extends to customer training where valuable advice is given.
Which extensions should I download? How many blog posts should be written? What aspects of the site shouldn't be touched? In short, important answers are given to guide customers toward autonomy.
Training in website management tools
By training customers in technologies such as WordPress, Webflow, or Shopify, web agencies give them the keys to managing their websites themselves. Once the site has been rendered, the agency explains how to manage and modify each part of the site, particularly in terms of content: images, text, and buttons.
This avoids the frustration of having to pay extra for minor updates. The relationship of trust between the customer and the agency is a long-term one because the customer sees that the agency is not out to make him reliant on them but rather to help him succeed.
This can apply to all components of the website, and therefore to all the tools the agency has integrated into the customer's site. Ideally, the web agency should train the customer in the use of tools such as Weglot for translation.
The customer can then continue to implement the digital strategy defined by the agency.
A good knowledge of SEO techniques is essential for maintaining and improving website rankings. SEO training provides customers with the skills they need to optimize site content and attract more visitors.
Content and keywords
The agency trains on the fundamentals of SEO, such as the use of keywords. Customers learn how to identify and integrate relevant keywords into their content, titles, meta descriptions, and URLs.
Learning about backlinks, target queries, and slugs is also key.
SEO analysis and performance monitoring
Tools such as Google Analytics and Search Console should be presented in the course, enabling customers to track their site's performance and understand where visitors are coming from and which content or keywords are attracting the most traffic.
Understanding how search engines work
Customers Should also be trained on the importance of site load times, user experience, and mobile adaptability, all of which are key factors for good search engine rankings.
Creating an international website is not simply a matter of translating content and changing a few images. It's a complex project that requires careful attention to user experience, localization, security, and, above all, transparency of the process.
Customer involvement at every stage of the project, regular communication, avoidance of hidden costs, and customer training are the keys to successfully creating a relationship of trust between customer and agency.
Whether international or local, every web agency needs to be a true partner to successfully develop the customer's business.
Agencies must now favor an approach based on co-construction. Customers, for their part, have become active partners, ready to engage in a collaborative creative process.