WeChat Mini-Programs & HTML5 websites

Optimise your web service for WeChat

WeChat Mini-Programs & HTML5 Explained

To access the vast potential of Chinese social media, aligning and optimising your existing web service for WeChat is a very important step. Many overseas companies see WeChat social media and the corporate website as separate. It's important to realise that many users, including Chinese business users, rarely leave the WeChat app.

We help optimise all that you offer online for WeChat also. There are two options to consider: H5 website and mini-programs. It's not 'either/or', both can be used.

What's a H5 website?

Many Chinese users spend large amounts of time using their phones to browse the internet rather than a PC. A lot of time on their phone is spent on WeChat. As WeChat has a built-in web browser, often the user is not fully aware which content is posted within WeChat and which is provided by external company web pages.

Developing a website to display in this mobile format is known as 'H5'. It involves creating pages with expected design behaviour for WeChat and linking these from within your WeChat account.

The process is similar to building a mobile-responsive website with additional design and layout considerations for WeChat. For a business, this route offers a low barrier to entry as your existing website may be used as a base.

What's a WeChat mini-program?

The other option is to develop a WeChat 'Mini Program' to feature your products and services.

Mini Programs are apps built within the WeChat platform itself and are not hosted externally by your company. Mini Programs are not downloaded to a phone via a traditional Western app store, but instead, these run within the WeChat app. No download or installation is necessary.

WeChat provides a developers' framework for coding and once live, Mini-Programs have the advantage of hosting on WeChat’s servers in China. This has great performance benefits for swift loading and ease of use, creating an 'all-under-one-roof' solution.

Mini Programs tend to be focused on one core service or product rather than complex inventories or services. There's a buzz around mini-programs but, before diving in, it's really important to work out if it is right for your organisation. Will it genuinely serve your users better, or is it simpler and more coherent to create an optimised H5 version instead?

Develop H5 pages

When users click on web links from within WeChat social media posts and in-app navigations, webpages simply open within the app rather than opening up a separate browser. As well as browsing, the app is used for chatting, reading, gifting, booking & purchasing.

To achieve the best outcomes, the WeChat H5 process in China needs:

  • Design localisation: WeChat has its own norms for menu style, menu placement and calls-to-action. It's necessary to offer the user a quick and coherent WeChat experience through your layout design.
  • Performance optimisation: HTML5 pages can form part of your existing website, which has big advantages in terms of getting started. It is an absolute must to ensure the coding and hosting of website HTML5 pages is lightning-quick for Chinese users.

The great advantage of HTML5 pages is the ease of integration with metrics and tracking. You can retain full control. For international corporate firms, this helps align the WeChat offering with corporate web policies and marketing goals, whilst simultaneously delivering an optimal brand experience to your potential Chinese customers.

To start your journey, get in touch with us and one of our expert team can advise the best way forward for your company’s situation. Our WeChat HTML5 services can be stand-alone or combined with WeChat company account registration and content marketing services.

Develop a WeChat mini-program

WeChat Mini Programs are an excellent way to provide a streamlined and quick user experience for your key brand offerings and are very popular with users. Chinese users expect convenience, quick access and an efficient, cleanly-designed interface for engaging with any service functionality.

A mini-program is available for your users via your WeChat account profile and can also be found in WeChat’s Mini Program search facility. With the ability to combine Mini Programs directly with WeChat Pay, widely used throughout China, it’s easy to see why it’s popular. Users can also pin their favourite mini-programs as well as share them.

Unlike Western Apps (think Apple Appstore or Google Play), where a user has to download an app to their phone, WeChat apps reside on WeChat’s own hosting platform. The programs are hosted within the WeChat app framework on WeChat’s China server infrastructure and no downloading is necessary. The WeChat coding infrastructure is streamlined to deliver your app functionality to users directly from WeChat's systems in real-time. Size is limited to 10 MB - but that's not a bad thing. It keeps your offering focused and useable. It also means lightning-fast performance.

H5 and Mini Programs can both be used as strategies for user engagement. To decide if the Mini Program route is desirable, it’s important to consider why users would value a WeChat Mini Program to interact with your business. They don’t suit all product/service offerings and they don’t suit all companies. H5 pages are beneficial, whatever the business sector.

For B2C, the case is more straightforward. It's easy to streamline processes for booking, ordering or managing accounts – think grocery, fast food order and delivery. For B2B, apps can offer ease of use for enquiry, easy access to user accounts, streamlined product presentation and ordering. It's a judgement call as to if that's going to mean more business from your WeChat followers.

WeChat is a vital part of the company mix in China and represents huge opportunities. Get in touch with us to begin your journey on accessing this exciting marketplace for your company or to discuss which options are the best choices for your company sector.

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