At Flow Communications, we don’t believe any job or client is too big or too small for us to help them produce great work. So when an entity as important as the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (sefa) approached us to develop its new website, we jumped at the opportunity.
Access to finance is one of the biggest challenges small businesses in South Africa face. sefa, an implementing agency of the Department of Small Business Development, and a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Corporation, is committed to providing development finance to small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) and cooperatives that are not able to attract commercial credit, through a hybrid of wholesale and direct lending channels.
The need for a new website
We were briefed to update the sefa website to be more visually appealing and optimised for mobile devices. The content on the old site was outdated and needed to be refreshed and updated, says Flow head of project management Gail Tanner.
“sefa provides funding to SMMEs in townships and rural areas. The work it does is important, and the website needs to make this clear and allow users to easily find the information they require regarding the various loan options provided by the entity, as well as how to apply for them,” she adds.
A smooth design process
Flow’s designers are equipped to tackle high-level website structures that cater for all our clients’ needs, however complex and nuanced these may be. This was the case with the sefa design process as well.
Senior UX/UI designer Cara Wares explains that “for the sefa website, the objective was to create a clean, fresh and easy-to-use human-centred, responsive design”.
To achieve this, the design team used sefa’s existing brand corporate identity for the look and feel, and drew on their expertise to come up with the various elements and components that would make it easy for the client to make updates and changes to the website later on.
“The home page needed to provide an overview of what the agency does, what products it offers, and how to apply for funding. It also needed to highlight its latest news, events and partners, with links to more detailed content pages elsewhere on the website,” adds Cara.
Developing the site
All Flow-designed websites are built in accordance with internationally accepted web standards. This ensures that our websites and applications are platform and browser independent and presented in a consistent manner, regardless of which device or internet browser is used to access them.
Flow developer Anton Boshoff, who worked on the sefa project, highlights some of the technical components incorporated in the development of the site:
Craft CMS, an off-the-shelf content management system used for building custom websites. It offers a user-friendly interface to create completely customisable back ends
Bootstrap 5, an HTML layout “tool” that enables developers to create grid systems within which to place content. It also comes with already built components such as navigations, paragraphs, tables and much more
A responsive (mobile-first) approach, translating well to all other devices. The idea behind this tactic is to always develop a website for the smallest screen first and then work your way up to create either a responsive or adaptive design
The concept of “lazy loading” of images for faster page speeds means all Flow’s websites and apps are easily navigable, graphically rich and not bandwidth intensive. Flow developers adopt lazy loading so that web pages have a faster initial load time by deferring the loading of images until the page visitor scrolls to the image