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.
Did an earthquake take out SA Internet?
Seabed avalanches caused by an earthquake could have cut several undersea cables, leading to one of South Africa’s biggest Internet outages yet, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
There is still no official explanation for freak breaks 11 days ago in two separate undersea cables that provide international access to South Africa’s Internet users. However, as reported in the Sunday Times yesterday, the most common causes of such breaks are damage by ship anchors and earthquakes at sea.
However, the freak occurrence of two separate cables being cut simultaneously far out at sea, as happened on the morning of 16 January, can only be explained by sea-bed activity. One of the cables was cut in two places, and it is widely believed that a third major cable was also cut.
The cable damage mostly occurred in or near an area called the Congo Canyon, which starts inland and extends 220km into the sea. It is known for having the world’s strongest “turbidity currents”, underwater sediment avalanches over hundreds of kilometers, which are known to destroy undersea cables.
The most likely culprit is a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Atlantic Ocean near Ascension Island shortly before the cables were cut on the morning of 16 January. The earthquake occurred just before 8am South African time, and local ISPs reported losing international access from just before 10am. The epicentre of the earthquake was more than a thousand kilometres off the coast of Africa, but disturbances caused by seismic activity at sea become more powerful as they approach the coast. Combined with turbidity currents, this could well have taken out all cables in the area.
The West Africa Cable System (WACS) was cut in two places, and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT3) cable in one location. Industry insiders believe that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was also cut, but it has not been publicly confirmed.
South Africa is connected to the global Internet via seven such cables, with a total capacity of 42.3 terabits per second (tbps). These cables, in turn, connect to additional cables connecting the West and East coasts of Africa, with a single cable running from Angola to Brazil providing another 40 tbps.
However, it emerged in the past week that smaller ISPs in South Africa had bought capacity on only one or two cables. In a freak occurrence, two of the most commonly used cables, the WACS and SAT 3 cables, were cut simultaneously, plunging millions of Internet users into data darkness.
Customers of the major mobile network operators – Vodacom and MTN – were largely unaffected, as these tend to have both part-ownership and access to most of the cables running up both the East and West coasts of Africa.
Visit the next page to read about how ISPs have battled to reroute access, how massive resources are needed to deal with these kinds of outages, and when the ship will reach the breakage points.
Lenovo express-delivers new range from CES to SA
Lenovo has unveiled its new range of ThinkBook laptops, barely two weeks after they were showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The company’s newest sub-brand, ThinkBook, is intended to meet the demand for more aesthetically pleasing, yet agile and powerful devices.
The new range is aimed at small and medium enterprises. According to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), there are more than 2-million SMEs in South Africa – although there are only 667,433 in the formal sector. This tallies with estimates in recent editions of SME Survey, produced by World Wide Worx, which suggest 650,000 active, formal businesses in South Africa. These SMEs employ about 14% of the South African workforce.
Lenovo argues that access to affordable, yet efficient, technology is a crucial factor in aiding business success and contributing towards the success of the nation. The company has found, in its own research, that younger people prefer working, creating and communicating online “with stylish devices that make a statement”. This means they require streamlined laptops which can be used to collaborate from any remote location, to enhance productivity.
Lenovo said in a statement on Thursday night: “Backed by customer research, ThinkBook is specially designed for SMEs, who typically purchase consumer laptops for perceived design and price advantages but can no longer rationalise their lack of extended services and warranties – core needs of any business. ThinkBook allows growing firms to keep a competitive edge in attracting today’s young tech-savvy execs with trendy yet cost-effective devices.
Thibault Dousson, general manager of Lenovo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the launch event: “With the capacity, SMEs have to grow and upskill the country’s workforce, they are perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the public sector and large enterprise. Bearing in mind the demands of the digital economy, this sector needs skills and resources in order to compete, and that is where devices such as the ThinkBook come in.”
In South Africa, ThinkBook laptops are now available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch variants. The flagship ThinkBook 14 and ThinkBook 15 devices are powered by Windows 10 Pro and up to 10th Gen Intel Core processing, which Lenovo says combines high performance with intuitive, time-saving features. Options include Intel Optane memory, WiFi 6, and discrete graphics.
The ThinkBook 15 comes at just 18.9mm thin, while the ThinkBook 14 is a mere 17.9mm, both with FHD displays and two Dolby Audio speakers, dual-array, Skype certified microphones and a USB 3.1 (Gen2, Type-C) port.
Lenovo has also introduced the ThinkBook S series, including an elegant 13.3-inch ThinkBook 13s. The sleek and light device is constructed of a metallic finish on an all-aluminium chassis, alongside a narrow bezel display. As with the ThinkBook 14 and 15, the ThinkBook 13s also features advanced Intel processing and an FHD display, Dolby Vision and Harman speakers with Dolby Audio.
Visit the next page to read about the design and features of the new ThinkBook range.