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Zyro interview: website building, the new normal, and more

by Lottar

Zyro is one of the platforms competing to be named the best website builder, especially for startups and businesses looking for something that “just works”, and want to get a website off the ground in minutes. It made our list, thanks in large part to its inexpensive plans, simple drag-and-drop editor, and reliability.

We caught up with Giedrius Zakaitis, CEO at Zyro, to get the lowdown on some of Zyro’s biggest successes, and how the business has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also learned more about how Zyro is using new technology to improve the user experience, and the company’s plans for the future.

Can you give us a brief overview of the company and what it does?

At its heart, Zyro is a website builder that aims to lower the bar for sole proprietors, small businesses and private individuals to establish an online presence. This means code-free web design, accessible to beginners, but with professional results.

However, from the beginning, we always had it in our minds that we wanted Zyro to go beyond what other website builders offer, to become the first true online success builder.

That’s why, as well as developing what we believe is one of the most accessible and functional builders available online, we’ve simultaneously developed a number of branding and marketing tools, many of them based on new artificial intelligence technology.

Zyro is quickly becoming a one-stop solution to not only creating a website, but developing a brand identity, finding an audience and driving success. We offer an affordable website and marketing resources that are almost as good as what an agency would provide, at a fraction of the cost.

What has been your greatest success, and why?

As for the product itself, the jewels in Zyro’s crown (currently) are our AI business tools. It’s no secret that we benefit from our close relationship with our parent company, Hostinger. Being able to learn from data pulled from millions of live websites hosted by Hostinger has strengthened our AI capabilities.

Our users can take advantage of tools that help them create a unique logo, or even generate search-optimized copy – all with the power of AI. These are essential tools that save time and money for small businesses. I can’t express how satisfying it has been to develop the AI ​​tools and see them really make it much easier for our clients to achieve their online success.

Beyond the product, however, I think it’s worth highlighting that the secret to our success so far – as I see it – has been embracing our customer obsession within the team and building all our processes with that in mind.

We make sure there are clear communication channels between our customer facing teams and our product team. This means that all the conversations and feedback we receive via customer service or on social media directly shape our roadmap.

We’ve seen our internal metrics and customer happiness continually increase as a result of this approach.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you tackle them?

Honestly, I think you’ll have to look right when we start. Choosing the right technical solutions (architecture) for the foundation of Zyro was quite challenging.

We built three different proofs of concept until we understood and committed to what would be the best long-term solution. We were clear from the beginning that we had to stay on top of web standards while maintaining the ease of use for the customers.

We also knew that we had to choose a solution that would support the steady, consistent and iterative development of our platform; something that would allow us to create a believable MVP version of our builder, but that wouldn’t have any limitations as we grew.

In retrospect, the timing couldn’t have been better, as CSS Grid was getting support from all the major browsers at the time. It was an obvious choice once we decided on it.

What impact – both positive and negative – has the pandemic had on your business?

Thinking about the positives, let’s not ignore the fact that the pandemic has fueled a boom in entrepreneurship. Millions of people saw it as an opportunity to launch new companies, try side gigs, and turn long-held business ideas into reality.

While this trend may have served us better a little later, when our market position was more secure, rising tides lift all ships. What better time to move into the website builder space with a product designed for small businesses and solopreneurs?

In terms of negative, it depends on your perspective. When the pandemic first hit and shut us down, the entire Zyro team was just a few dozen people. The majority of our growth as a company has occurred during some version of lockdown.

At first, I worried that having a team that was completely or mostly remote at this critical time would limit growth and affect cohesion. Many colleagues working on the same teams have only met once or twice in person, often only in the summer of 2021, so it would certainly have been nice if it had happened earlier.

However, it seems my worries were unwarranted. We have a live Slack and regular Zooms, and have mastered the art of remote team building. At this point, working together in the office is just a bonus.

What new market challenges and opportunities have you seen emerging?

I don’t think the key challenges we face are unique to us, or even to our industry. Being the offspring of a major hosting company means we understand the dangers of lax cyber security better than most. We recognize that not only our organization’s work and data is at stake if we drop the ball on security, but that of all our users, so it remains a primary concern for us.

I suppose it’s also just part of the other two main challenges we face, namely providing a solid customer experience and nurturing loyalty. No startup will ever succeed without putting a foot wrong at some point along the way, especially in their first years.

However, when you shoulder the responsibility for thousands of customers’ online success, a single wrong foot can have significant consequences.

I would frame the opportunities before us within the same customer success paradigm. What our users want is a fully functional online presence. A website alone is not good enough in 2021; small businesses need cross-channel marketing and communication, and often a sales solution to find success.

This comprehensive approach is important horizontally – across all types of business – not just within a single vertical. By creating the tools and leaving room for infinite flexibility, we make online success accessible to everyone.

Are you taking advantage of the new world of blended and remote work? If so, how?

I love our team and am proud of the amazing culture we have managed to grow in such a short time. The foundation of a great work culture and an engaged team allowed us to work even more productively after COVID started and we went remote.

I guess here I should describe the hiccups we experienced when we switched to working away from the office, but honestly, the transition was so smooth that there’s really nothing I can point to except missing out on office culture and coffee machine chats.

We are an international team anyway, so in a way we were already prepared to face any of the challenges posed by remote work. Now that we’re slowly returning to the office, we naturally enjoy the benefits of a dedicated workspace and personal interaction, so we’ll stick with the hybrid model.

What are your goals for the future?

Our plan is the same as it has always been: listen to our users, understand their needs and build quality solutions to the challenges they face. I know most companies will claim to base decisions on customer needs, but we take the concept to the next level.

We regularly update our company roadmap, where all our users can see what new feature we are planning or currently in development. For every single feature on that roadmap, I can point to at least one interaction with a customer where they requested that functionality.

Right now, we’re focusing on creating specialized tools to improve our builder’s usability for specific industries. A recent example was slideshows designed to showcase photography work, and the team is working on booking forms for hotels, hairdressers and other businesses.

It might sound like we’re just being reactive, but we’re really just sticking to the same approach consistently.

How do you see the website builder sector changing in the next five to 10 years?

First, it will be dominated by Zyro. Well, of course that’s what I hope anyway.

Perhaps more clairvoyant, it’s pretty safe to say that the shift online isn’t temporary—it’s the new normal. This unprecedented rapid change represents a big enough opportunity for many website or e-commerce building platforms to succeed.

In fact, the market will grow at such a rate that it will be able to sustain a number of major players, and users will benefit from the greater choice and broader range of functionality. Pay what you can afford for the tools you need. We are in the very early days of taking advantage of this opportunity, and we believe that the time for growth is just beginning.

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