Is the future of business to be found in "done for you" service solutions or "do it yourself" software solutions? While the latest buzz trends may oscillate between these two extremes, there's much to be said for tech that empowers service providers to do their jobs with greater potency and efficiency.
Today, VC and private equity investors are more interested than ever before in these types of technologies. The trend took centre stage earlier this fall, when Duda, a Palo Alto-based platform for web design agencies, secured $25 million in funding to further develop its technology.
As a platform, Duda allows agencies to streamline the production processes involved with turning around high-quality, page speed-optimized and conversion-oriented websites for clients. Agencies can white-label administration and management panels, share design elements across projects, import design assets from third-party sources in bulk, delegate admin roles and permissions and automate communication with clients.
Duda even supports advanced functionalities that allow websites to double as fully-functional progressive web applications (PWAs), and to serve up personalized content experiences based on custom rules and triggers. The platform's connected data and API features, meanwhile, allow agencies to aggregate information into site design templates, so that manual design work can begin in earnest after a website build is already underway.
"We are very familiar with the frustration many web professionals experience daily due to the lack of suitable web design platforms," said Itai Sadan, Duda's co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "Our team has developed a product that integrates all of the components needed for professional-grade web design to effectively serve digital agencies and SaaS platforms and allow them to scale their business."
Through such capabilities, digital agencies are better able to handle website development at scale, effectively lowering the barriers for small businesses and professionals to have their own digital presences.
Importance of an Online Presence
In the digital age, businesses need to have an online presence to compete. Some 47 percent of consumers visit a company's website before making a purchase, while 30 percent won't even consider doing business with companies that don't have a website. Unfortunately for small businesses, creating an online presence can be a challenge, especially if they don't have the technical competence to do it internally, forcing many to outsource the work to agencies.
Of course, every company's website should essentially enable potential customers to comprehensively learn about the business and its products and services. But websites must now function as much more than an online brochure or catalogue. Since customers prefer to perform many of their day-to-day transactions over the internet, companies can now add appointment scheduling and e-commerce functionalities to allow clients to directly buy online.
In addition, websites can be used to engage and interact with clients by allowing them to provide product reviews and feedback and reach out to online support. Companies can also educate users through quality blog content to boost brand reputation and customer trust. Since websites can be accessed from virtually anywhere, it even enables small businesses to reach consumers from outside their respective territories and expand their customer base across borders.
Unfortunately, despite these benefits, 40 percent of small businesses still don't have fully-functional websites. Many of them cite cost and technical expertise as key obstacles that limit their ability to realize the potential of their digital presence.
Helping Agencies Deliver SMB Sites at Scale
Duda's suite of tools for design, development, client management, team collaboration, and mobile optimization already put the company in a good position to provide significant value to its existing ecosystem of over 6000 agencies and resellers.
Below are some of the platform's top features for agencies. It will definitely be interesting to see where the platform goes from here.
● Easy e-commerce implementations.
Duda has a built-in e-commerce solution that seamlessly integrates payment and shipping providers like PayPal and FedEx with merchants' websites, which enhances the checkout process for customers. Duda can also make it easier for customers to browse products.
Site designers can display stock counts and discounts on items to encourage customers to decide quickly and complete a purchase. They can also select and customize page layouts that maximize conversions on product listings.
● Granular and powerful content management.
Duda likewise offers has a blog feature that lets users create and publish articles on their websites. Using the platform's roles and permissions admin tools, agency pros can allow clients to upload blog posts while site development is still in progress.
Maintaining a company blog is essential to driving sales, given that companies which publish a high volume of monthly blog posts are more likely to enjoy superior lead generation. Duda also ensures that the blog has a smart design structure and is optimized for mobile and search. It also has automatic visitor tracking to gain insights into what topics various segments of consumers are most interested in.
● Dynamic content personalization and connected data.
Duda enables designers to deliver more personalized experiences to site users. Agencies can create personalization triggers that ensure site visitors will see content and recommendations relevant to their physical locations, devices used, and other personal information and activity. This is important for a company's marketing efforts, as customers expect companies to know what they need. More than half of consumers are willing to share their personal data for a more personalized shopping experience.
Duda can also be configured to integrate with third-party database resources to generate "headless" web designs powered by its APIs. Since these capabilities lessen the technical skills and manpower needed to perform most development and maintenance tasks, agencies will be able to price their services more competitively and affordably, enabling more small businesses finally invest in their own web presences.
Small Businesses Will Get a Boost
Small businesses with limited resources are always under pressure to compete with enterprises. Fortunately, the rise of website builders is levelling the playing field by helping design agencies and professionals create websites for small businesses easily. By becoming more efficient, agencies will be able to provide better value to their clients and help small businesses establish better digital presences, in faster and more affordable ways.