Business tips

How to forge an award-winning relationship with your web developer

You need to sell trendy products like sunglasses or handbags online in order to win awards for your e-commerce website, right? Think again. Queensland-based web development company Hybrid Web landed two Australian Web Awards in 2014 for its work with quilting business Fifi’s Fabricology. Here’s how to forge a great relationship with your developer and take your website to the next level.

Web design and online marketing company Hybrid Web began working with online quilting business Fifi’s Fabricology in 2010. Back then, Michael Goode, Hybrid Web’s Owner and Creative Director, did not know anything about the quilting community in Australia, and he never imagined that Fifi’s Fabricology’s website would go on to become the online hub for quilters right across the country. The site has since gone on to win two 2014 Australian Web Awards (Queensland Division) in the e-commerce and mobile categories.

“Fiona [Wright], the owner of Fifi’s Fabricology, knew she wanted a website, and while I didn’t understand the niche, I loved her passion right from the start,” says Goode. “I could see the possibilities from her Facebook followers. People love the community feel and Fiona has really given us a free rein to develop that,” says Goode.

Since building Fifi’s Fabricology’s first website using a Business Catalyst e-commerce platform, Hybrid Web has gone on to do three major upgrades to the site and now acts as Fifi’s Fabricology’s online marketing team, as well as its web developer.

“It is great when the client welcomes us in as part of the team, and we are really proud of the work that we have done,” says Goode.

Fifi’s Fabricology’s website development

In 2010, Fifi’s Fabricology was more of a hobby business, whereas today it has grown into a fully-fledged entity with full-time staff members.

Wright’s passion for quilting and its community, notes Goode, has been one of the key ingredients in creating a truly standout website that also works alongside the physical retail outlet, Fifi’s Shed, at Tallebudgera in Queensland.

“It is a very difficult market due to the sheer number of products and catalogues,” says Goode. “We’ve always wanted to make the website work well for Fiona and make sure it works with the instore systems, too.”

A key element to the latest version of Fifi’s Fabricology’s website is ensuring that quilters are able to easily search and find specific products. “There are thousands of products, so we needed to make sure those structures were really right for the quilter and how they search,” says Goode.

Getting the mobile version of the site right was just as important as making the desktop version easy to use, he adds. “The website is responsive and mobile-friendly, and we’ve seen a real rise in the number of sales on mobile. A lot of traffic comes from mobile, even if the demographic is older.”

So what are Goode’s favourite features of Fifi’s Fabricology? Four areas standout:

  1. It is mobile responsive.
  2. The easy-to-use layout.
  3. The speed of the site for its size.
  4. The content, including online training and more video tutorials that are coming later this year.

“The website is responsive and mobile-friendly, and we’ve seen a real rise in the number of sales on mobile.”

Michael Goode, Hybrid Web’s Owner and Creative Director

The role of social media in building an award-winning website

Goode credits Wright for doing a huge amount of work herself on social media and through old-fashioned face-to-face networking.

“Fiona is brilliant at networking and looking after her clients, which helps,” he says. “She’s engaged people on Facebook and has 4,000 fans there. There are also about 8,000 to 10,000 people on the email database, which we started from scratch. It is not easy to create that community in every niche – and quilting is very niche – but the response has been really phenomenal.”

Goode says all the online and social media work contributes to Hybrid Web’s overall vision for Fifi’s Fabricology: “We want Fiona to be the authority in quilting in Australia. People already come from all over Australia to meet her at Fifi’s Shed or at trade shows.”

Hybrid Web’s expansion plans

While Fifi’s Fabricology goes from strength to strength in the quilting world, Hybrid Web has big plans too, and Goode says that winning two Australian Web Awards has given the team a boost. “It is recognition for a small hard-working team and shows they can get amazing results,” he says. “It has given us the credibility to take the next step, and we are opening a Sydney office in the coming year. It’s a confidence boost, and shows we are on the right track. We want to push for better sites all the time.”

And as for other businesses hoping to super-charge their online presence, Goode has some advice: “Do your homework and know your market. Be realistic about what it takes to go online. Facebook is not free anymore. You need a sales funnel in place and you need to understand your market. Make sure you provide your customers with content, let them know you appreciate them and ensure that you ask them for a review when they buy something.”

How to build a great relationship with your web developer

  • Be passionate about the business you want to build.
  • Do your research, know your community and be able to communicate their needs to your developer.
  • Have a vision for what you want your website to do.
  • Make your developer a real part of your team.
  • Be realistic about what it takes to sell online – it is no longer just a case of having a good-looking website. Discuss your sales funnel with your developer.

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