April 23, 2024
How To Build an Authoritative Website in Kenya That Rules

Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways on successfully starting an effective website presence in Kenya:

  • Clearly define your business goals and KPIs upfront to guide priorities across platforms, design and development.
  • Register a short, brandable .co.ke domain for 2+ years with target keywords if feasible to strengthen online branding long term.
  • Research specialized local Kenyan website hosting partners for crucial managed infrastructure like Truehost.co.ke.
  • Depending on the website objectives, choose an optimal CMS platform like WordPress, Wix or Webflow to efficiently build upon.
  • Design appealing site frontends focused on visual aesthetics, user experience and content presentation balanced against goals.
  • For custom apps and complex platforms, invest in advanced backend development across databases, custom code, SEO, security and integrations.
  • With the proper modern foundation, continuously optimize based on performance data to guarantee sustainable ROI beyond just vanity metrics.

Launching a professional Kenya-based website ultimately starts with first clearly defining your goals and intentions behind having an online presence.

While in the past generic brochure-type websites were popular, today every website should have a specific strategic purpose and aim to drive reader actions or transactions that deliver ROI.

Some common goals for Kenyan websites include:

  • Ecommerce – Selling products directly online through an native shop component like WooCommerce or customized marketplace.
  • Lead generation – Capturing site visitors’ contact info like emails and phone numbers via opt-in offers, content downloads or contact forms to build a marketing list.
  • Service promotions – Having an online location prospective local customers can learn about your offerings, credentials and reach out from.
  • Establishing authority – Positioning yourself or brand as a thought leader or industry expert via high quality blogging, resources and personal branding.
  • Community building – Developing a tribe of supporters and fans around a niche like faith, hobbies or causes via forums, groups and exclusives.

Having spectacular design and technology doesn’t matter if the website lacks purpose. Define one or several concrete goals, then ensure every website component aims to ultimately convert visitors into outcomes like sales, subscribers or clients by providing immense value.

This clarity of vision fuels all subsequent decisions from choosing platforms to allocating budget in order to guarantee your Kenyan website generates true measurable ROI rather than just being an expense.

2. Choose a domain name

Registering an appropriate custom domain name should be among the very first steps taken when starting a new website in Kenya.

Your domain is essentially the unique web address or URL website visitors will type into their browser to access your site – for example https://mybusiness.co.ke.

It serves as the public face of your online presence as well as a key factor in search engine optimization.

Here are tips for choosing the ideal domain for a Kenyan website:

Domain Extensions

The suffixes like .co.ke and .com at the end of domains signify the top level domain type. Popular options include:

  • -.co.ke – Specifically designated for Kenya based entities. Provides strong local relevance signals.
  • -.com – The classic global domain extension works for any site with international audiences. Widely recognized and trusted.
  • -.org.ke – Typically used by Kenyan non-profit organizations and community associations.
  • -.ac.ke – Reserved for Kenyan academic institutions like universities and colleges.
  • For most general Kenyan websites beyond specific community causes or academia, .co.ke and .com tend to be best suited depending on if you favor local or international appeal.
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Domain Length & Memorability

Ideally your primary domain root should be short, simple and catchy for site visitors to easily recall from memory. For instance mybiz versus mygreatkenyanbusiness.

Keyword Domains

Incorporating your core product, service or industry keywords into the domain can enhance relevance and search visibility – like KenyaTravelTours.co.ke.

But keyword domains shouldn’t sacrifice memorability, brevity and brandability.

Avoid Hyphens & Numbers

While hyphens like my-site.co.ke may be necessary to get preferred names unavailable otherwise, try to minimize them along with digits for smoother user experience.

In most cases, registering your domain for at least a 2 year initial term is recommended for brand stability before needing to renew.

Overall, invest time upfront finding an short, brandable .co.ke or .com domain with keywords if feasible to establish the proper foundation for your Kenyan website to grow upon for years to come.

3. Select a hosting provider

One of the most crucial decisions when starting a website in Kenya is selecting a high quality local hosting provider to host your actual site files and databases on their specialized web servers.

This hosting partner literally keeps your online presence accessible 24/7 by housing it within their data center and providing the network infrastructure for visitors to access your site.

Here are the key factors to evaluate when choosing a hosting provider in Kenya:

Uptime & Reliability

A hosting company’s service uptime track record – that is the percentage of time their servers are up and running – is extremely important. This metric should be at least 99.9% or higher.

Anything less than that risks your website going offline unexpectedly, costing you traffic and credibility. Read recent customer reviews to confirm consistent uptime.

Page Load Speed

Your host’s technical infrastructure including server capacity, CDN availability and caching drastically impacts your site’s page load speeds. Sites loading under 3 seconds tend to perform best in visitor engagement and SEO.

So optimized hosting for speed is crucial.

Security & Malware Protection

With cyberattacks growing globally, having proactive security layers at the infrastructure level is essential for any Kenya website.

This includes things like DDoS protection, server hardening, regular scans and software updates to protect your site.

Local Support

Even with ample reliability measures in place, website issues inevitably come up needing expertise to resolve.

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Prioritize Kenyan hosts with 24/7 local support teams and self-serve knowledge bases to access assistance when required.

Developer Friendly Features

Whether launching a basic business brochure site or complex web application, developer resources like SSH access, GIT integration, staging sites and web-based file managers give technical flexibility.

Affordable Pricing

Shared hosting plans providing the above start around 200 – 1500 KES per month from well-reputed Kenyan providers. Opt for annual billing cycles to maximize savings long term.

Some top local options known for balancing professional hosting with Kenyan customer care include Truehost.co.ke, Safaricom Web Hosting, KenyaWeb, and Hostpinnacle.

Do properly vet various companies against the above criteria first before selecting your website hosting partner.

4. Pick a content management system (CMS) platform

The foundation of actually building and launching a fully functional website in Kenya requires selecting an appropriate software platform or content management system (CMS) tailored to your particular objectives.

Rather than always having to custom code sites from scratch, CMS software provides user-friendly tools to easily create, organize, personalize and manage websites with no coding expertise required in most cases.

Here is an overview of popular website CMS platforms used across Kenya and globally:

WordPress

The open source WordPress CMS powers over 40% of sites globally. Beyond just blogging, it can handle:

  • Business & ecommerce sites
  • Portfolios
  • Local business listings
  • Event sites

Pros include ease of use, thousands of themes/plugins and low cost. Manage hosting separate.

Wix

Wix focuses on an intuitive drag and drop site builder for visually polished websites like:

  • Personal portfolio sites
  • Small business sites
  • Online stores & reservations
  • SEO landing pages

The SEO and design flexibility makes Wix popular in Kenya.

Webflow

For more design-forward responsive sites with smooth animations and visual flair, Webflow offers robust advanced customization for skilled developers.

Joomla

Joomla is great for building intricate community platforms and directories natively like:

  • Forums & membership sites
  • Listings
  • Social networks

Though complex for beginners.

Drupal

Similar to Joomla, Drupal is a very developer-centric CMS for complex functionalities including:

  • Corporate intranets
  • Publishing platforms
  • Government portals
  • High traffic databases

Has a steep learning curve but enables custom systems.

Research to choose the optimal CMS for your specific Kenyan website goals and team skills. Many also allow transitioning from one platform to another with proper planning.

5. Design your website frontend

One of the most exciting parts of starting a new website in Kenya is designing the front-end presentation layer that visitors visually interact with.

While each content management system detailed above provides their own site design tools, most leverage a theme system that allows customizing core elements like:

Layout Structure

How information and features are organized across sections and pages like:

  • Where main menus/navigation is positioned
  • Whether sidebars, footers or banners are used
  • If pages have widget areas
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Visual Styling

Appearance related adjustments for:

  • Color palettes
  • Font types and sizing
  • Button shapes and colors
  • Iconography

Images

  • Hero photos/graphics
  • Logos
  • Photo galleries
  • Slideshows
  • Background patterns

Functional Components

Additional site features for engagement:

  • Contact/email optin forms
  • eCommerce product galleries
  • Appointment booking widgets
  • Calculators

Optimizing Content

Formatting content in the CMS for best SEO and UX:

  • Auto TOC inserting
  • RSS feed creation
  • Related posts
  • Tagging and categories
  • Post view counts

Properly balancing design aesthetics, site functionality and content presentation requires an iterative process of experimenting with your CMS platform’s options. But the flexibility compared to old offline methods enables efficiently launching beautifully branded sites that effectively achieve business goals.

Often starting with proven quality commercial themes with great baseline components then customizing further simplifies getting quality sites live quicker.

6. Develop website backend & functionality

While the visible front-end focused on customer experience covered previously is crucial, developing the underlying back-end environment powering a new Kenyan website is equally if not more important for impactful digital platforms.

Sophisticated backend technical infrastructure unlocks advanced capabilities like:

Custom Programming

Websites often need custom functionalities, apps and systems built beyond base CMS platform constraints requiring quality coding using languages like:

  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • HTML/CSS
  • Python
  • Java

Database Management

Managing extensive data requires optimizing relational databases like MySQL and NoSQL databases for flexibility:

  • User accounts
  • Product catalogs
  • Forums and listings
  • Analytics data lakes

User Management

Creating role-based access levels, permissions and logged in experiences for diverse visitors:

  • Client portals
  • Member forums
  • Intranet dashboards and profiles
  • Admin site management

7. Market your website

People won’t find your new site on their own easily. Promote it across:

  • Search engines
  • Social media
  • Online ads
  • Local directories
  • Industry mentions
  • Influencer collaborations

Driving qualified traffic is key to ROI.

Search Engine Optimization

Developing efficient site architectures, metadata tagging, speed optimization and indexing facilitates discovering relevant organic traffic at scale.

Email Marketing

Tools like MailChimp, SendPulse and Moosend integrate with websites and CRMs to engage visitors post-visit across email automated journeys nurturing subscribers.

Payment Gateways

Facilitating online payments, donations, bank transfers, mobile money or alternate digital currency transactions requires hooking into various payment APIs and merchant accounts.

External Service Integrations

APIs enable connecting into complementary platforms for richer experiences:

  • Social media
  • Reviews and Q&A
  • Forms and surveys
  • Live chat
  • Marketing automation
  • VoIP calls

The above are just a sampling of common high-value website backend functionality unlocked by technical resources like full stack developers, DevOps engineers and software architects based on strategic requirements.

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