Design Elements that Matter when Developing a Company Website

Not all websites are created equal. In fact, the opposite is true: Your website could be falling well behind the pace of your competitors if you are not focused on optimizing your web design. While having a website is great, web design is a beast without form, changing its DNA constantly. If you ignore the innovations, you could quickly become the dinosaur of your industry. More companies are recognizing the importance of having an online presence but there’s need to go even further.

Fortunately, the steps to remain relevant are not  overly complex. By employing a few simple strategies, you can refine your existing website to meet the needs of the day and make a big splash with consumers. Moreover, your marketing department can track the impact these changes have made to provide some tangible results connecting your web design changes to your Return on Investment (ROI). Although web design and other online work can sometimes feel like taking shots in the dark, there is actually plenty of data you can use to refine your strategy in various ways.

Here are some ways of improving your website design:

Optimize for ease-of-use

Complicated websites can turn consumers away. When your primary goal is to seek a conversion, each additional step serves as a hurdle to overcome. When it comes to the opt-in process, you want to streamline it as much as possible. This is why websites like Amazon.com have employed one-click purchasing: They understand that ease-of-use will yield more sales.

Outside of the immediate conversion process, you want a website design that is simple and easy to navigate and read. Don’t confuse web traffic with too much clutter, you’ll only hurt your organization.

Make your products and/or services evident

Don’t make web traffic scour your website to figure out what you’re all about. Put your product and services out there, where they can be easily viewed, explored and digested. Use your web design to support these items, which are the lifeblood of your business. Employ a neat design that frames your products or services as the centerpiece of your website, since that’s exactly what they are. The biggest downfall again is to make your design too simplistic and unattractive to the eye. Employ use of minimalist and elegant designs that greatly improve the User Experience.

Create a well-interlinked website

This is one of the most common mistakes that occurs. Ever clicked on a link only to find that the page it leads to offers no links to go back? It’s one of the quickest ways to stop a site visitor dead in his or her tracks. Make sure all of your website’s pages offer strong interlinking that supports seamless navigation. Much like avoiding obstacles in the opt-in process, difficulties in navigating a website can frustrate users and convince them to abandon their efforts – and, consequently, your business.

 

Emphasize the human element

Your online marketing efforts will be well-rewarded if you can successfully convey the larger importance of your business. Often referred to as the “why” message, this will make it clear to consumers how your business can help them. By understanding the needs your business fulfills, website traffic will be more inclined to appreciate the services you can offer and value your organization as a result.

Create an automated Live Chat with frequently asked questions to be able to sort out visitor’s queries. Don’t be afraid to toe the line of hyperbole by relating your company’s efforts to the ever-ongoing pursuit of innovation. Civilization is constantly working to move forward, and your business should demonstrate its role in that movement.

In many cases, web design doesn’t demand that you throw away your current approach and start from scratch although that may sometimes be the best approach. Instead, seek out small ways to innovate and shore up potential snags in the user-end experience. And use your marketing data to monitor this progress and make additional changes as needed. As a result you’ll create future opportunities to increase your ROI and expand the number of referrals successfully converted.

This article first appeared on Techweez on Dec 1  2018

Online Payments in the Kenyan Context: Challenges and Prospects [Part 2]

E-commerce has been on the upsurge since it entered the Kenyan market. In 2014 the Kenyan e-commerce market was valued at around Kshs 4.3 billion. Back then the smartphone penetration percentage stood at 82.6 and 35.5 million users. These numbers have grown over the years and currently stands at 39.1 million users. This means good news for the Kenyan players led by Jumia, Kilimall and a soon to be launched platform by Safaricom dubbed “Masoko”.

Read: Online Payments in the Kenyan Context: Challenges and Prospects [Part 1]

The e-commerce experience has never been “complete” to date. Leading e-commerce platforms world over have a cashless system that is less tedious with a limited option for Cash on Delivery in certain areas. In Kenya, the shopping experience is centered on cash. In the previous article, there was a clarion call to address some of these issues. I then carried out a small study to try and answer some of these questions.

METHODOLOGY

A google form was created to collect opinions on why there seemed to be skepticism in paying for items online. The google form was then shared on social media platforms to collect views from the public.

RESULTS

A total of 39 responses were recorded. In terms of demographics there were 26 men (66.7%) and 13 women (33.33). In terms of age segmentation, majority of the respondents (94.9) 37 in number were between 18-35 years old. Only 2 respondents were 35 years and above. When asked to describe the general online shopping experience, 18 (46.2%) found it good while 13 (33.3%) found it excellent. 5(12.8%)respondents found the experience to be fair and 3 said the shopping experience was very poor.

On matters payment, the bigger chunk preferred to pay for items through Cash on Delivery and MPESA 17(43.6%) and 13 (33.3%) respectively. Only 9 (23.1%) attributed preferring to use their Credit/Debit card for such transactions.

On asked what informed their payment modes, 24 (61.5%) said convenience was key to them. 13 (33.3%) came in a distant second highlighting security as their major issue. Others noted to prefer COD (Cash on Delivery) in order to avoid additional hefty charges that Credit/Debit cards would attract.

The final question asked the respondents on why they were reluctant to use Credit/Debit Cards. 17 (43.6%) respondents commented on the fear of being conned. The second group 11 (28.2%) noted that they do not like to pay for items before they can actually see them. 8 (20.5%)  said that they feared giving out their credit card information online for fear of fraud. 2(5.1%) said that they would generally feel uncomfortable sharing any kind of personal information. Among the choices in the form was if they know how to use their credit cards to pay for goods online. None of the respondents talked about it.

DISCUSSION

From the very onset, it was imperative to note that majority of the respondents were between 18-35 years old. This could suggest that a younger generation feel more persuaded with the concept of e-commerce as opposed to conventional shopping. The older generation would still opt for the latter. In terms of the general shopping experience, it was noted that it wasn’t stellar but then again it was not so bad.

Navigation through the website was easy enough and the process wasn’t much of a hassle. First timers had opined that the User Experience was not too good as some items were listed on the front page only to find a “404 not found” on clicking the link. Others noted that the items did not have enough images to be able to view a product and decide.

In terms of payment, majority preferred Cash on Delivery as it was the most convenient thing to do. “Why would you want to dish out money before the product arrived?”, a respondent asked. If they did not have cash available the second-best option would be MPESA on their phones. Interestingly, one respondent noted that he would rather use MPESA but still withdraw from the bank account through Mobile Banking but would not use his Credit/Debit card directly. This long process was justified by an “I need to be secure, hackers are out there” statement.

This whole discussion was further strengthened by the several stories of people being conned by paying for items online. On asked whether they had friends/acquaintances who had been conned, only 2 out of the respondents gave an encounter. While they had not generally encountered it, the fear of the unknown still reigned supreme.

CONCLUSION
While the advantages of e-commerce in Kenya cannot be gainsaid, there is need to gentrify the whole shopping experience. Online payments need to be strengthened since they are the most secure in the inter-webs. This will hasten the whole shopping experience.

On alleviating Cash on Delivery as the main mode of payment, this will take a lot of effort as customers noted that the item delivered was different from the one online hence the need to hold back payment until the item is delivered. E-commerce sites should build trust with their customers to have a better experience.

This article first appeared on Techweez on September 6th 2017

Online Payments in the Kenyan Context: Challenges and Prospects [Part 1]

This is a continuation to my previous article online payment systems in Kenya.

With E-commerce, it automatically creates a perception that the transaction is mostly cashless with an occasional option of Cash on Delivery(COD) when requested.

Websites such as Jumia and Kilimall entered the space as the pioneer nationwide e-commerce websites in Kenya.

The reception has been great with Kenyans slowly taking up the concept of e-commerce. Other international companies have also entered the African market but realized that online payment is a long shot. An example is Uber who have an option of paying via credit card but it is rarely used. What is the problem herein?

Don’t we have credit/debit cards? Is it a tedious process?  Is there fear of giving out personal Information? Are they expensive/Additional Charges?

Jumia has been able to implement use of credit cards as a payment methods. This is a standard industry procedure for any business to be termed as an ‘e-commerce’ website. Other ventures continue to consider mobile money payment via Mpesa as an online payment method. There seems to be a form of skepticism from the buyer and the seller.

As a result, I have decided to carry out a small survey of online payments and why the situation remains as is. Feel free to fill in the survey here.

I will infer the results and discuss the prospects for online payments in Kenya. This study attempts to find why most Kenyans still prefer Cash on Delivery in e-commerce as compared to online payment. Find Part 2 here.

 

This article first appeared on Techweez on May 16th 2018.