Tuesday April 30 2013

Making your website more engaging and useful

By Joyce Kyeyune Tonda

Uganda is ranked number nine in Internet usage in Africa according to a 2012 study from Internet World Stats and a World Bank research report of the same year. Kenya is fourth with 12 million users while Tanzania at sixth position has 5.6 million users.

The figures are not set in stone as different sources quote with some variance. What is clear, though, is that internet usage in East Africa is growing rapidly, driven by the advent of smartphones which have brought mobile internet to millions of users.

The past week, I was a judge at Pivot East 2013, a regional competition for tech startups, 75 per cent of the innovations are downloadable apps for mobile. With more and more people going to the internet to find answers, businesses, organisations and entrepreneurs have to adapt their websites to the new information demands of consumers, following four key trends.

Optimise your site for mobile phones.
While high end phones like iPhones or the newer Android series will render sites exactly as you see them on a computer, the most basic smartphones, owned by the majority, will require website developers to factor in mobile viewing functionality during the development process.

If your site is not optimised for the web your items will be misplaced, images will not display correctly, text will be cut off. Ultimately, the site visitor who is using a mobile phone will have a frustrating user experience. You lose customers.

You can test your website to see how it displays on a mobile phone by downloading the free Opera browser for mobile phones. A website, which is optimised for mobile, ensures that all the critical text is viewable on a small screen, the site loads fast and mobile users can be automatically identified.

Use lots of visuals
Studies have shown that when visitors go to a site, the first thing they will look at are large pictures and they will focus on faces where they are available. Infographics have also become a key selling point as they keep visitors longer on the site. Infographics use data and graphics to explain a situation in an attractive, memorable format. Try to have a captivating, interesting visual for each page of your site.

Have an interesting FAQ
This is a frequently asked questions section and is often present on many websites but used blandly.
The questions and answers must provide enough detail to position your business as an expert in your field and to help make the buying decision easier for the site visitor.

Provide calls to commitment
Start off with simple calls like ‘subscribe to our newsletter’, ‘download our white paper’, ‘request more information’.

The author is the Managing Editor ,
Enterprise Technology.