Making it as a small Business is hard work, regardless of where you are. But, in Africa, the stakes are somewhat higher, especially if you hope to make an impact in the digital sphere. Remarkably, Africa has become an increasingly connected region. This is not true of the entire continent of course. As the Mail and Guardian pointed out: “The level of connectivity on the continent is low and highly unequal and, while potential access through mobile-phone subscriptions are higher, as of November 2015, 71.4% of Africa’s population did not have access to the internet.” Of course, the modern business is global. Just because Africa is such a small market doesn’t mean you should only be looking at Africa. What’s made African small businesses successful has been expanding their appeal to other areas, within the African region, but also overseas. To that end, it’s important to take stock and consider what will make an African company’s website successful, especially in 2017.
One of the most important properties to your website is making it easy to use. People don’t want to fuss with trying to get information or contact details for example. One of the worst things you can do is making it hard for people to find such details. As Jeff Bullas points out:
“When UsabilityTools published the results of a case study that analyzed and tested the websites of 8 universities, it became clear that the people preferred websites with clear menu labels and transparent information. We have all come across a website or blog that simply does not work, or takes forever to find the right thing, and it is honestly a hassle. This either makes us, consumers, want to quit in frustration or swear we will never come back. The official website for the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, for example, is not user-friendly at all. That’s one of the greatest reasons for bad reviews this impressive destination gets from tourists.”
Making a website user-friendly isn’t a science, so much as art. However, experts do recommend a number of options. As indicated, you need to make your website such that people can find what they need easily. This points to making navigation an essential part of your user-friendly focus. Have easily noticeable markers, leading to relevant parts of the site. Always have your contact details or shortcuts available, so customers aren’t struggling for ways to reach you. And depending on your business, you might want to put your prices up front and easily available – allowing for listing options. For example, you can allow customers to change their listing options, so they rank from high to low in terms of prices.
Also, when customers arrive on your homepage, you should let them know about the latest deals that can benefit them.
Your site needs content. This has increasingly been seen as highly essential to keep a website relevant and noticeable to Google. As SEO Site Checkup notes: “the more frequently you update your website with articles, downloads, and new web pages, the more frequently a search engine will stop by to visit your website. When search engines look at your site more frequently, you have the opportunity to achieve higher rankings based on the content you provide.”
Creating good content requires good writing and creative thinking. Tapping into topical issues, pointing to interesting ideas and highlighting your site as a thought leader in your relevant field helps to elevate the site to relevant spaces so that it can be noticed by Google, and therefore new customers. More customers of course means more profit. All this stems from writing and creating good content that can be hosted on your site.
As a small business in a growing country, even considering what hosting means in South Africa is important. As Studio 5 Innovation points out:
“The performance and security of your new small business website largely depends on your website host. You must make sure that your hosting company is reliable, and your data is safe. Performance (speed) is also a key consideration. Here are the different types of business website hosting you should consider.”
All of these factors are often forgotten when you create a website for your business.
Africa is known as the mobile continent. Therefore it is important for you to focus on making your website able to work properly and responsively on mobile screens. This is not the same as working on a computer, for reasons beyond merely the screen resolution. Mobile screens are responsive to different kinds of inputs, such as touchscreen. This must be kept in mind as you go about creating the site, keeping it consistent across the board with logos, colours and so on.
By focusing on all of these kinds of interventions on your site, you can make the best small business site for your local company.