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Three steps to getting your own website going

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By STEFANO MARUZZI, VP of EMEA at GoDaddy

Many South Africans who have access to the internet spend some eight and a half hours a day online, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Global Digital Report 2019. With consumers embracing a digital lifestyle, your small business needs to have a presence online to be visible to potential customers.

The good news is that launching a great-looking website doesn’t need to cost thousands of rand or soak up dozens of hours of your precious time. With the right tools and some basic tips, a time- and cash-strapped small business owner can set up an affordable, professional-looking website in a short amount of time.

Here’s how to design a website for your business in three simple steps:

1.    Identify the purpose of your site

Start off by deciding how your website can help to drive your business forward. Websites can:

  • Generate leads
  • Showcase your services
  • Sell and ship products
  • Create a sense of community among customers/members
  • Establish authority in your industry
  • Help your business appear in local search results

Then, ask yourself what you want your visitors to do once they get to your website. This could include actions such as:

  • Browse through your products and services
  • Read a blog post
  • Call the phone number
  • Request a quote or estimate
  • Leave a comment
  • Buy a product

Answering these questions can help you build the right website for your needs. You will be able to plan what your website will look like, what sort of content you need to include, the features and functionality you want to add, and how you will promote it to your customers. 

2. Think about the domain name

You will need to choose a domain name for your website. Your domain name is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the web, so take care to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember.

How to choose a domain name

  • Keep it short. Would you remember it if you saw it on the side of a bus?
  • Make it easy to type. Avoid hyphens and unusual spellings.
  • Include keywords. Try to use words people might enter when searching for your type of business.
  • Target your area. Use your city or province in your domain name to help appeal to local customers.
  • Pick the right extension. Industry- or geo-specific domain endings might be a better fit for your business than a more generic .com.

 You can register your domain through a domain registrar directly – or, in many cases, your hosting provider will also offer hosting services.

3.    Decide how you will build a website

If you are not well-versed in the art of website building, you’ve got options. You can do it yourself with a template-based website builder or use a more sophisticated content management system like WordPress. Too busy for that? Hire a professional.

Let’s take a closer look at your choices:

  • Website builder

Website builders, like GoDaddy Website Builder, are great if you’re a DIY-type who wants an affordable, attractive, basic website in a short amount of time. Simply choose a pre-designed template and then replace the text and images to meet your needs.

  •  WordPress

Do you like the idea of building and updating your own website without learning HTML, but want more flexibility than a website builder tool? If you’ve got a little skill and some extra time, a content management system such as WordPress might be right for you. You can choose from free or paid WordPress themes (designs for the overall style of your website). A range of plugins can also help to boost your site’s functionality and offerings.

  • Professional designer

Hiring a professional designer is a great option if you have an idea for your website, but don’t want to build it yourself. A pro can collaborate with you to turn your vision into a functional, professional – looking, customised website that meets your online goals. It can be expensive, but the results are often worth it.

If you have gone the DIY route, you can check with your provider, as hosting is usually part of the package with a website builder. There are dozens of options for website hosting, but you’ll want to make sure that whatever hosting service provider you choose does a good job of covering these bases:

  • Reliability: What’s the hosting provider’s uptime guarantee?
  • Storage: How much space does the provider offer with their hosting options? You determine what you will need for your website’s files. Hint: Large e-commerce sites and websites with lots of images need more storage capability.
  • Bandwidth: Make sure your hosting plan includes adequate bandwidth to be able to handle heavy website traffic.
  • Scalability: If traffic spikes, will your hosting provider scale your hosting services to account for the increase? If not, your site could crash.
  • Security: Pay close attention to the security features included in a hosting plan, including 24/7 monitoring and protection against DDoS attacks.
  • Support: What kind of technical support can you expect, and is it available 24/7?

With a little forethought and advanced planning, you can create a site that can be an asset to your growing small business. You can start small and simple, and add more advanced features such as e-commerce as your needs change and your confidence and your business grows.

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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