Monday, June 18, 2007

most of our web content is irrelevant- Michuki

only 10 per cent of kenya websites are relevant

Having a website maybe the most fashionable thing for many Kenyan companies, but how many websites are relevant? How many have content that is important to local people?

Michuki Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer at KENIC reckons that 90% of the websites in Kenya are irrelevant and user unfriendly. The 10% are under construction, and remain so for a long time.

At the monthly forum, Michuki indicted many organizations of developing websites that don’t give visitors reason to come back, because they have same information after three years.

“Less than 50 % of the content of the web is irrelevant and does not address the core functions of the organizations,” said Michuki.

For instance, Nakumatt Holdings website; it has a slide show of buildings, information about the company and very little about the products available and the prices. Uchumi website has information about products and the prices but is limited to products on special offer.

Compared to Tesco super market in the UK- all the walkways are listed, groceries, finance, media information occupies less space, and maximizes on their core business.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) website is equally incapable of providing flight information, parking costs and directions to and from the airport. The website does not load up easily and has more information on tourism compared to its core functions.

With the website being labeled as off the mark, one participant commented that even the boards at the airport do not work.

compare to the British Airports Authority website- it has flight information, how to leave from one airport to the next, car park direction and fees, security alerts among other features.

Telkom scored higher marks, had all the information about their services, loads fast but there is no way to purchase the services online, one has to fill forms and visit agents to get services.

Michuki argued that the main problem lies in the fact that websites have been labeled as “IT jobs” and are only there, not to help in marketing. In this respect, many organizations leave website management to their IT departments and do nothing to improve on the content available.

To redress this, organizations need to identify right target group, build online social networks, and collaborations between academia, media and government to ensure that content is generated.

ends

7 comments:

Leo Faya said...

Nice Post Wanjiku,

I think there are couple of key issues which could be main factors and or determining factors. I however hate talking in Techie Jargon so let me simplify my thought process a little to comment....

aaaaaahhhhh eeeee hhhh okay .. sawa

I think relevance is a misused word in my terms of definition because if you look at people like Nakumatt, Uchumu and KAA the examples you gave, I am sure their organizations find their websites very relevant. The websites actually provide some insight into what the organizations do. The organizations are available on the internet and most of all they have a website. (Thats the keyword I learnt in Kenya, that if you say you have a website people automatically respect you, as opposed to not having one... he he he)

I think the real issue here is not relevance but rather functionality, as per your article. But again all these words are misused. Before companies such as Target Stores in the US had e-commerce websites they had basic informational websites.

Were their websites relevant? Yes if you think about it from a holistic perspective where they had an online presence. Were their websites functional? Not really. I think one major problem with Technology in Kenya is that its measured against some strict global standards. In that we are actually comfortable comparing KAA with BAA??? How can we do that? Is it really natural to compare these two organizations really, even taking into consideration the markets they serve.

I actually like Uchumi, I would make very small improvements here and there, in terms of adding visual product dispays online and possibly price points. However I would never implement an ecommerce solution for Uchumi (regardless of whether I think I can put one up to make sense) The Kenya market just is not ready to utilize the internet and Kenyan based websites to that level of interaction. Similarly the KAA website, regardless of how many flights we have in and out of the country - The ROI of implementing a Flight,Parking and Landing system or Electronic Flight Information Systems (EFIS) and the use just doesn't seem to make immediate sense to me. I think we can acknowledge needed and projecting the system, but implementing it at this current time for Kenya just will not make sense.

I however like these types of discussions and commend Mr Michuki for highlighting such loopholes because it presents a compelling case for guys like us to come and advocate for good websites, and implement the next phase of web development which is web strategy.

I like where Kenya is now, they are in the discovery stage, they are trying to find out how and where websites will be used in their businesses. Nation is still trying to figure out how to manage their website, Standard the same... In the US - NYTIMES.COM is a whole separate subsidiary with its own vision, goals and projections for revenue and sustainability. it is not an extension of the IT Department... But mainly because the market here can sustain the Online ventures, and more over they company has built web strategies that are functional to the market it serves....(ama should I say, relevant..ha ha ha )

I liked this post... lets continue these types of conversations..

Louis said...

nice insight - though i think i have to agree with wanjiku and disagree we Leo somewhat.

i think by definition the internet is worldwide and has no borders. I think the moment an organization has an online presence it should strive @ international standards because
1. the internet is borderless
2. the websites users interact with other sites and get used to certain standards.

as such u will find most users in kenya have hotmail or yahoo or gmail accounts do on a daily basis they interact with well bulit applications and websites so to exepct that those users will expect anything less from a local website is not realistic.

on another level if the web looked at purely on a commercial basis in terms of immediate profit - the i t would not exist. the web is where it is because people so POTENTIAL and OPPORTUNITY to this day amazon is still barely profitable even NYtimes online.

but its achoice between the future and the past any organization that
wants a part of the future has to embrace the internet and technology.

I think wanjiku post goes deeper - i think its a question of wether kenyans or our culture can fully embrace technology not merely as a business opportunity but rather as a function of convenience and quality of life. Reason for my question is that kenyan companies invest millions in technology solutions from India south africa and europe but there seesm to be a disconnect somewhere for example the NSE has invested 100's of millions on some platform - yet they have the hardest time maintaining a decent functional website that could confer more benefits of that technology investment.

I can repeat the same scenario with numerous other businesses. But the main question that comes to point is wether we can use technology actively or be passive
technology users - are we training peopel to merely install SAP,Oracle and windows or are we training people to create the next SAP,oracle

anyway - let me stop there for now.

Alexander said...

Brilliant title!

I refer to three articles of KenyaImagine with comparable scope, [url=http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=537&Itemid=122]"How not to write a service charter"[/url], [url=http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=523]"Public Image"[/url], and [url=http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=492&Itemid=137]
"New Masks, Old Faces"[/url]
because the latter showcases the same mental and attitude deficits that Rebecca's article chastises.

Indeed, it would be a worthwhile question of the week to have a contest for [b]the worst government website[/b]. I believe the shortlist would include PSRD, e-government and Ministry for Information and Communication.

Alexander

Alexander said...

Brilliant title!

I refer to three articles of KenyaImagine with comparable scope,
http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=537&Itemid=122
"How not to write a service charter",
http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=523
"Public Image", and
http://www.kenyaimagine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=492&Itemid=137
"New Masks, Old Faces"
because the latter showcases the same mental and attitude deficits that Rebecca's article chastises.

Indeed, it would be a worthwhile question of the week to have a contest for the worst government website. I believe the shortlist would include PSRD, e-government and Ministry for Information and Communication.

Alexander

Alexander said...

Another telling observation: the Kenya Human Rights Commission (that's the private one, KHRC; the other one is called KNCHR) has for weeks now announced a major political ecent in Nairobi for the 26th of June: a "mock tribunal" on abortion. Those of us who are more used to American English will know the same as a "moot court".

Now, evidently, such an important event should gather majopr interest. But do you think that there would be even a single hint on the KHRC website? A press release? Or at least indication of time, location and programme? Something that would be self-understanding in every other part of the world?

No. Of course not. Why of course? Because it's Kenya, and Kenyans maintain the website. Once again, incompetence frolicks, and dances naked on the table.

But who is to be blamed for that sad and sorry state?

- The CEO? No, for the CEO's job is to direct and to represent, to exude "liidaaahsheep". He or she cannot actually be expected to look after such trifling details, that would be undignified.

- The public relations officer? No, of course not. Because PR work means accepting free beers from journalists, and occasionally hacking a press release into your mechanical typewriter (the modern workstation is in the bureau of the CEO, bought from donor money, and equipped with all latest fads; but he does not know how to operate it). A website, that is evidently IT stuff, something likes ethernet, y'know?

- The IT geeks? Nope, they ride the hardware and fuck the software, but web design isn't their job description.

- The web designer? No! S/he was commissioned for the design job, was forced into making major after-the-fact unprepared alterations for two months, unpaid of course, and since then hasn't gotten any new orders from management.

- The program officer? Oh, c'mon, please! While she does know how to use a computer and can even write emails (she has been busily sending away her CV to all and sundry, ever hoping to finally get one of these peach & plum highly paid UN jobs, instead of her @%$&*! exploitation NGO post), she is more than overburdened with actually organizing and running the entire event itself.

- The donor? Yes, right! Finally we have found the culprit! It's all the donor's fault!! He should have provided money and (wo)manpower for the website update and a new website relaunch. KNCHR got such donor funds (from the Swiss embassy), so how in hell can we be expected to maintain a website without foreign help?!

Alexander

Capt. (Rtd) Collins Wanderi Munyiri said...

Great Piece Shiku, keep it up!

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