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.
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.
Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa
A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.
The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.
While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.
The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.
“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”
Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen
To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:
- Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
- Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
- The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
- The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
- The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
- The startup can show a clear social impact
- Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)
Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.
The dark side of apps
Mobile device security threats are on the rise and it’s not hard to see why. In 2019 the number of worldwide mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.68 billion of which 2.7 billion are smartphone users. So, if you are looking for a target, it certainly makes sense to go where the numbers are. Think about it, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, network spoofing, phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware and improper session handling – mobile devices make for the perfect easy target. In fact, according to Kaspersky, mobile apps are often the cause of unintentional data leakage.
“Apps pose a real problem for mobile users, who give them sweeping permissions, but don’t always check security,” says Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky in Africa. “These are typically free apps found in official app stores that perform as advertised, but also send personal – and potentially corporate – data to a remote server, where it is mined by advertisers or even cybercriminals. Data leakage can also happen through hostile enterprise-signed mobile apps. Here, mobile malware uses distribution code native to popular mobile operating systems like iOS and Android to spread valuable data across corporate networks without raising red flags.”
In fact, according to recent reports, 6 Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90 million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware, while another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30 million Android devices. Surveillance malware was also loaded onto fake versions of Android apps such as Evernote, Google Play and Skype.
Considering that as of 2019, Android users were able to choose between 2.46 million apps, while Apple users have almost 1.96 million app options to select from, and that the average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month and launching 9 per day – it’s easy to see how viral apps take several social media channels by storm.
“In this age where users jump onto a bandwagon because it’s fun or trendy, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can overshadow basic security habits – like being vigilant on granting app permissions,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa. “In fact, accordingly to a previous Kaspersky study, the majority (63%) of consumers do not read license agreements and 43% just tick all privacy permissions when they are installing new apps on their phone. And this is exactly where the danger lies – as there is certainly ‘no harm’ in joining online challenges or installing new apps.”
However, it is dangerous when users just grant these apps limitless permissions into their contacts, photos, private messages, and more. “Doing so allows the app makers possible, and even legal, access to what should remain confidential data. When this sensitive data is hacked or misused, a viral app can turn a source into a loophole which hackers can exploit to spread malicious viruses or ransomware,” adds Badenhorst.
As such, online users should always have their thinking caps on and be more careful when it comes to the internet and their app habits including:
- Only download apps from trusted sources. Read the reviews and ratings of the apps as well
- Select apps you wish to install on your devices wisely
- Read the license agreement carefully
- Pay attention to the list of permissions your apps are requesting. Only give apps permissions they absolutely insist on, and forgo any programme that asks for more than necessary
- Avoid simply clicking “next” during an app installation
- For an additional security layer, be sure to have a security solution installed on your device
“While the app market shows no signs of slowing down, it is changing,” says Opil. “Consumers download the apps they love on their devices which in turn gives them access to content that is relevant and useful. The future of apps will be in real-world attribution, influenced by local content and this type of tailored in-app experience will lead consumers to share their data more willing in a trusted, premium app environment in exchange for more personalised experiences. But until then, proceed with caution.”