Having a website is crucial for any business today, no matter how small. An online presence allows you to reach new customers, provide information about your products or services, and establish credibility for your brand. For small businesses in Kenya, creating a website may seem daunting, especially if you have no prior experience. The good news is that with the right guidance, you can easily make a professional small business website even with limited technical skills and budget.
Why Have A Website For Your Small Business
Here are some of the key reasons why your small business in Kenya needs a website:
- Increased visibility and discovery – A website makes it easier for potential customers to find your business online. It provides 24/7 visibility instead of just relying on word-of-mouth or traditional advertising.
- Establish credibility and trust – An online presence shows that your business is professional and legitimate. Customers can learn more about you before contacting or visiting your physical location.
- Access to new markets – You can reach customers beyond your local geographical area. A website opens up new markets nationally or even globally.
- Cost-effective marketing – Having your own website provides a platform for online marketing which tends to cost less than traditional advertising. You can use tactics like SEO, social media, email newsletters etc.
- Customer convenience – Allows existing and potential customers to explore your offerings online at their convenience. They can check out products/services, get information, and even place orders.
- Competitive edge – Keep up with competitors who likely already have an online presence and appeal to digital-first customers.
Choosing A Domain Name
The first step in creating your business website is purchasing a domain name. Your domain is your web address that website visitors type in to access your site. For example,
Here are some tips for choosing the right domain name:
- Use your business name if available – Yourbrandname.co.ke is the most straightforward choice.
- Pick a .co.ke extension – This is the standard domain for Kenya. Other options like .com are also fine.
- Keep it short and simple – Avoid long or complex names. Opt for short, memorable and easy to spell domains.
- Consider keywords – Having relevant keywords in the domain can improve SEO. But don’t over-optimize or cram in keywords.
- Check availability – Do a domain search to see if your desired name is available for registration. Avoid trademarked names.
- Future-proof – Pick a domain that will remain relevant even as your business evolves.
The domain registration process is quick and inexpensive in Kenya. Prices range from a few hundred to a couple thousand KES per year typically. You can register directly through domain registrars like Kenic, sasaspace.com and truehost.co.ke among others.
Selecting A Web Hosting Plan
Web hosting provides the storage space and technical infrastructure to have your website accessible online. When selecting hosting, consider these aspects:
- Type of hosting – For small sites, shared hosting works well and is cost-effective. Avoid free hosting which has many limitations.
- Server location – It’s best to have hosting located in Kenya for faster local site speeds. Local hosts also understand the market better.
- Disk space and bandwidth – Entry level plans like 5GB storage and 50GB bandwidth are fine for small business sites starting out. You can upgrade as your site grows.
- Top level support – Look for hosts that provide 24/7 customer service and quick response times. This is crucial when issues arise.
- Price – Compare prices across hosts for similar plans. Average pricing is usually KES 300 to KES 1,000 monthly. Steer clear of deals that seem too good to be true.
- Reviews – Check reviews and recommendations for hosts to gauge reliability and reputation. Positive reviews indicate satisfied customers.
Some of the leading local web hosting providers in Kenya include Sasa Space, Host Pinnacle, KenyaWebExperts and Jamii Host among others. Assess each based on your specific needs and budget.
Choosing the Right Platform
There are different platforms and tools you can use to build your small business website in Kenya:
WordPress is the most popular CMS or content management system used by over 35% of all websites globally. From my experience, if you need to set up your website, go for wordpress. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long-run.
Here’s why it works well for small business sites:
- Open source and 100% free to use
- Easy to use even without coding skills
- Massive library of free and paid themes and plugins
- Search engine friendly with great built-in SEO
- Secure and frequently updated platform
- Scales easily from very basic to advanced sites
- Has free and paid hosting options e.g. WordPress.com or self-hosted
- Great support community resources for tutorials and troubleshooting
- You can hire wordpress web designers like me to do the heavy-lifting for you while you focus on driving your business further.
2. Website Builders
Website builders like Wix, Webflow and Squarespace allow you to create sites by dragging and dropping elements instead of needing to code. Benefits include:
- Very easy to use with minimal technical skills
- Professional designer-made templates
- Built-in ecommerce capabilities
- SEO features and marketing tools
- Active user communities for help
Downsides are the monthly subscription fees, limited customization and lack of full control compared to self-hosted sites.
3. Custom Solutions
For more complex business needs, you can hire a web development agency to create a fully custom-coded website tailored to your requirements. While pricier, you get features like:
- Bespoke design and development
- Advanced functionality and integrations
- Scalability for future growth
- Full control and ownership
The optimal platform depends on your budget, timeline, site needs and technical capabilities. WordPress is ideal for most small businesses starting out.
Design Tips For An Effective Small Business Website
Here are some key elements to guide the design of your Kenya small business website:
Visually appealing design: Make use of high-quality photos, graphics, fonts, colors and layouts for an aesthetically pleasing site. Template themes can provide good starting designs.
Mobile responsive: With increasing mobile internet usage, your site must display well on smartphones and tablets, not just desktop. Mobile-friendly responsive design is essential.
Easy navigation: Use simple and consistent navigation menus and site links so visitors can easily find what they need. Group relevant content together.
Clear call-to-actions: Use buttons, banners and other elements to highlight specific calls-to-action you want site visitors to take. For example, shop now or contact us.
Quality content: Provide useful information about your products, services and industry. Clear, concise copy and visual media engages visitors.
Page speed: Optimize images and files sizes, minimize plugins and enable caching to maximize page speeds. Faster sites have higher visitor retention.
While you can build a site on your own, hiring a professional web designer can be worthwhile for an optimal website that effectively represents your brand visually.
Key Sections To Include On Your Small Business Website
When structuring the content for your website, having certain standard pages and sections is important both for visitors and search engine optimization. Here are some key areas to include:
This is the front door to your website – use it to briefly introduce your business, products/services, and highlight your main value proposition. Prominently feature calls-to-action to guide visitors to other site sections.
– About Us
Let visitors know important details like when you were established, founders/team, mission statement, unique selling points, and what makes you different than competitors. Help build trust through your brand story.
Have dedicated pages describing each of your main products, services or portfolio items. Include photos, descriptions, pricing, and calls-to-action so visitors can easily learn about and buy or enquire.
– Contact Page
Make it easy for visitors to get in touch by having a dedicated contact page with details like business location, phone numbers, email address, and a contact form. Many customers will need to contact you before purchasing.
– FAQ Page
Answer frequently asked questions from customers so they can get the information they need without having to contact you. This also shows you have deep knowledge of your field.
Optimizing Your Website For SEO
Search engine optimization helps people find your website when searching online for products or services you offer. Follow these tips:
Choose the Right Keywords
Do keyword research to find terms people are searching for related to your business. Use these appropriately throughout site content to be found more easily.
Create Search-Friendly Page Titles
Page titles are displayed as the clickable links in search results. Craft descriptive but concise titles using important keywords.
Write Descriptive Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions summarize page content. Make them interesting to entice clicks from searchers.
Include Alt Text For Images
Add descriptive alternative text for images to help search engines understand context.
Publish Fresh Content Consistently
Add blog posts or new site content regularly. Search engines favor sites that are actively maintained and updated.
Get Backlinks From Relevant Sites
Link building helps improve domain authority and search rankings. Guest post on industry blogs or partner with related businesses through link exchanges.
Additional Tips To Improve Your Small Business Website
- Integrate email signup forms – Collect customer emails on your site to build an email list for marketing. Offer an incentive like a discount or freebie in exchange for subscribing.
- Add social sharing buttons – Make it easy for visitors to share your content across their social networks. This can help expand reach.
- Install analytics – Use Google Analytics or similar to track key site metrics like visitors, page views, conversions and more. The insights help improve your site and marketing.
- Provide multiple contact options – In addition to a contact form, list phone, email, social media channels, and even WhatsApp so customers can reach you easily.
- Synchronize with emails – Send out emails matching your brand colors, fonts and messaging for a consistent look.
- Publish testimonials – Display positive feedback from customers to build credibility and trust for your brand.
- Maintain security – Keep software like WordPress updated and use security plugins to protect your site from hackers and malware.
A website today provides invaluable exposure, credibility and customer reach to small businesses in the Kenyan market seeking to establish an online presence. By following the guidance above on choosing a domain, finding reliable local hosting, utilizing an easy-to-use platform like WordPress, and applying effective design principles – small businesses can create professional and effective websites that meet their needs even without large budgets or deep technical skills. The investment into an owned website is well worth it for the long-term benefits it provides.