Interview: Stephen Murphy, Webfactory

25 Nov 2017 | 11.43 am

Interview: Stephen Murphy, Webfactory

E-commerce investments typically pay for themselves within 18 months

25 Nov 2017 | 11.43 am

Established in 1995 and with a staff complement of over 40 people, Webfactory has helped shape some of the most prominent online properties in Ireland. The company works with utilities, insurance, pharmaceutical, entertainment, automotive and FMCGs, and is a five-time winner of the eir Spider award for Best Design and Development Agency


What is Webfactory’s position in Ireland’s web agency marketplace, and how has trading been for the firm in the past year?

Webfactory is the leading digital partner to the corporate market in Ireland. Our clients are in both public and private sectors, with services ranging from digital strategy through website development to ongoing digital marketing services. Trading has been strong for the last 12 months with annual growth in the order of 10%. This is driven by clients making significant strategic investment in digital channel upgrades to satisfy growing customer demand for online self-services.

These services are mostly e-commerce related, including taking orders online, paying a bill online, renewing a premium online or signing up for a direct debit online. Other popular new features are related  to business process management, such as applying for loans online, making complaints online or managing suppliers or inventory online. These investments are typically paid for inside 12 to 18 months after go-live, from savings elsewhere. In short the market is strong at the moment.

Is there a shortage of web development talent in Dublin, and if so how does Webfactory tackle this issue?

To be honest it’s an ongoing issue. The Irish talent pool, in particular, is very light and there are just not enough good front or back-end developers coming through. We adapt by taking on skilled resources from the EU, Brazil or elsewhere which we find to be very strong in these areas. We also spend a lot of time, and money, on staff retention so the existing people don’t leave. We think that if your staff are happy there is a straight line to happy clients.

Industry research indicates that an important priority among clients is to increase website performance. What do they mean by this, and how does Webfactory assist clients in achieving this goal?

With strategic digital project investments now in the hundreds of thousands per project, the forecast ROI must be properly quantified and then measured regularly after going live. In most cases this means setting clear KPIs for the project during the groundwork stage and then tracking the performance closely via a dashboard or other online tool to measure daily performance.

This is usually around metrics such as new web leads, new direct debits, new subscriptions, overall share of digital, overall mobile share, and so on. Adjustments can be made to the digital offering if the performance is falling behind forecast. That is the beauty of digital – nothing needs to stay as it is if it is not working.

Could you sum up the difference about how corporates view their website and its interactions today with five or ten years ago?

In one word – transactions. Ten years ago, there were few or no transactions performed on corporate websites, but that has all changed. All of our corporate builds now have at least three strands to them. Strand 1 is the usual corporate communications content, Strand 2 is the sales/self-service transactional area and Strand 3 is the ongoing management and maintenance of the site — with so many campaigns going on, the site cannot stay still for long or it falls behind the competition.

A growing Strand 4 is security and vulnerability audits, given the huge increase in ransomware and other corporate attacks recently. Most of our client metrics are now a combination of hard and soft data points, and these are reviewed at board level given how important the channel is.

Top-end website builds – what makes the process work smoothly, and where can clients sometimes fall short?

Measure Twice, Cut Once would be our advice. Once the brief or tender vision is clear and well-articulated on the client side, then we can pick it up and deliver a quality product from there. If the brief or tender is fluffy or out of sync with the market then the project will struggle and can drift into scope or budget creep which is a pain for all.

The basics need to be right:

  1. What are you trying to achieve online?
  2. Have you set a realistic budget and timeline?
  3. Have you internal resources with authority to deliver?

Once these are in place a large, properly-funded and stakeholder committed web project can run remarkably smoothly and be end to end in six months.

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