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Why Most Kenyan Websites Just Suck

Why Most Kenyan Websites Just Suck

While having a drink with a friend, he mentioned the bad designs that characterize many websites in Kenya. I concurred. Honestly, many companies that have an online presence have never bothered to understand why they are there and what this could mean for their businesses. Many have a presence online as a formality and nothing else. Take this website for Dubai Bank for instance. I cringed when I first came across it and I am actually embarrassed for them.  Not only is the design pathetic and juvenile, you can rest assured that it is not optimized in any way.

I have written before about the brochure nature of many Kenyan websites. Most are static, rarely updated if at all, and simply scare you off just by looking at them. I have been trying to figure out why companies, even the ones who cannot afford it cannot do better when it comes to their online participations and came up with the following:

  1. Ignorance: Many MDs I have come across are ignorant about their online activities. Their attempts to showcase their proficiency usually expose blatant ignorance on their part. A couple of times when I have approached several MDs with regard to their websites and the usual response is “we already have a website.” And this is where things get interesting – my follow-up questions have revealed that some of these guys do not even know the url of their websites.  A vast majority has no idea what analytics is nor do they appreciate the importance of the intelligence that analytics provide with regard to the efficiency of their website. Because of such ignorance, many benefits, developers have not been challenged and therefore are stuck at creating mediocre websites because only a select few businesses demand better or know better.
  2. Old Fashioned: Let’s face it, most established businesses in Kenya are owned by an older generation of Kenyans who still view all this technology stuff with suspicion. The old-fashioned fashioned way of doing things was simple and even though technology has made things simpler, this generation fails to see how. Kunste Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Nakuru is a case in point. I was flabbergasted (he he he, I have finally used that word in a sentence) to see that there was not even one computer in the hotel. Not even the manager had a computer and therefore my efforts to explain to him the optimization of their website and ranking were met with, Huh! This takes me to my next point.
  3. Lack of Information: Ignorance unless willful is usually as a result of lack of information or misinformation. There are many businesses in Kenya which though established years ago are adept when it comes to online activities. The difference is usually information. I remember breaking things down to a manager who had zero knowledge of websites, blogs, social networks, SEO etc and just from our conversation, he said that even though he still did nor understand most of what I had just said, he had seen why they are important. That is the power of information. The reason Kenyan websites are so bad yet their MDs are walking around blissfully proclaiming they have an online presence is because of lack or information or misinformation. Reeducating such managers is important because it will open their eyes to a new reality with endless possibilities; all of which will have an effect on the bottom line.
  4. Cheap Bastards: I have also met my fair share of “cheap bastards” as I like to call them. Almost always, cheap means low quality and I believe this to be a strong reason for the many crappy websites in Kenya today. Lack of information is not always the case and budgetary constraints are mostly the excuse even when the evidence suggests otherwise. These are those MDs who will always ask for a place they can get it cheapest. And honestly, you get what you pay for. I do not know about you but I hold cheap stuff with a lot of suspicion because the end result is typically what illicit brew (chang’aa) does to its victims. Quality comes with a price and because the work will be done right in most cases, the ROI is assured and therefore a worthy investment.
  5. Too Techy: I fear coding and that is the reason I am such a sucker for WordPress and Thesis Theme which are basically DIY platforms that require basic or no coding skills at all yet delivering maximum optimization. There has been mystery that surrounds web design and which has led many unscrupulous web designers to get away with making substandard webites. I talked with a couple of MDs who are told that their sites are optimized and take it for gospel truth yet these sites don’t rank for shit. They don’t understand all these tech talk and hence do not bother inquiring further lest they expose their “ignorance”.  Most get mesmerized by beautiful looking sites but looks deceive.  Many people assume this is a line reserved only for blondes in movies. The real blondes however have been Kenyan businesses who have been seduced by flash filled fancy websites that deceive the eyes but not search engine algorithms which have trouble indexing and ranking them.

So the next time you look at your own website, wonder out aloud in the presence of your techies and web designers, “is our website and extension of our brochure?” And if it has not been updated for a while, does not show up when you Google your keywords, has no analytics to measure the various metrics or no one even looks  at them if at all there, then know you have a shitty site that is not doing justice to your business. In fact, it is probably hurting your image because it is an insult to your customers who visit it expecting fresh information and interaction with you.

What is your poison?

  • Marvin Tumbo,
  • April 27, 2010
  • stefancarlstrom

    Indeed, very good observations…now, how to counter?

  • mukite

    My poison is http://www.capitalfm.co.ke – they are leading at the mo!

  • akinyiadongo

    Great article!!

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Thanks Akinyi.

    Mukite, I am looking at your poison right now.

    Stefan, I will be writing a follow-up to this on how to counter.

  • Great article. Now how do the techies help the corporate geeks understand all this and move into the normal world of interwebs together?

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Hey Chiira,

    Great seeing you here. I am in the process of writing a follow-up article tackling the how. I wrote this hoping such questions would arise so that I could write a follow-up article incorporating these views in it.

  • Sportskenya

    You've highlighted what many have been having the pain of sharing and finally it's off our chests! Thank God! Especially the last two points, I so agree with you ! Good work you got going there!

  • sportskenya

    You've highlighted what many have been having the pain of sharing and finally it's off our chests! Thank God! Especially the last two points, I so agree with you ! Good work you got going there!

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Thanks sports kenya. I saw one too many bad websites and started typing. I hope people will begin putting in the time, attention to detail and money that is required when one has an online presence.

  • Melissaakiki

    So did you check out the Capital website? What did you think?

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Capital FM have a pretty descent website both from a design and functionality point of view. I really like it Mellissa.

  • check out mapambo.com..its fly

  • Great article I must admit.  Kenyan’s are goods at learning and I’am glad you have indicated that you will have a follow up on the how.  I guess that’s really paramount.  Solutions…. bring with them credibility.  Looking forward to your follow up article.  Keep up the great job.  Also check out : http://kenyatalii.com

  • How about the new Kenyan Social website http://www.wingley.com ? Not all Kenyan websites suck.

  • as a web developer my opinion is that progress has been made from 2010 when this article was written. In this market of ours there are websites on both sides of the scale..pathetic( refer above: dubai bank) and excellent(this one’s pretty much a good example)..a strategy needs to be in place to inform the old guard the importance of websites. And being old isn’t an excuse. I know people in that generation who have managed to get with the tech vibe so it isn’t impossible. With sites like this one, where the author is not afraid to give it to the masses straight things should definitely change for the better. Keep up the good work!