Browsing the web and accessing other people’s websites can be fun and easy. All you’ve to do is Google them up or simply type their web address in your internet browser. But when time comes for you to get your own individual or company website up, things can be really tricky.
I’ve personally got some websites up and running ( including drillpressview.com ). Both pro like this one and my personal site davidokwii.com which is nothing more than simply a URL — for now as I think of what to put there! So lets dive into it.
Website vs Social media
Before you embark on investing in that website, you probably want to ask yourself if you are better off with a Facebook page than a website. Most companies take website development like building a house. Develop once and forget. As a result, most websites in Uganda are often void of the most updated content and information. Simply put — they are boring.
A Facebook page on the other hand will force you to push fresh, interesting content. In fact according to my research, most service providers’ social media accounts are far more engaging and informative than their real websites. Seriously. Go read this classic rant by Simon Kaheru on how lazy local companies — even the big ones — are when it comes to maintaining their own websites.
Having presence on social media and having a vibrant website are both equally important. In fact one compliments the other. But that’s for another day. For now, I would recommend you do NOT put up that website unless you’re willing to keep updating it. Just stay with a Facebook page, period.
Domain registration: .com vs .ug
If you go with a website, the next thing you’ve to consider a domain name. A domain name is your address on the internet — much like a phone number is on mobile networks. It must be unique. Preferably, your domain name should be the same as your brand name. For instance if you own a barber shop called “awesome dudes”, then your domain should preferably be awesomedude.com. That domain should be “available”. In otherwords, it shouldn’t have been already taken by someone else.
Now between a .com and .ug top-level-domain, it’s a matter of preference. If you’re a multi-national cooperation wanting to setup local preference in Uganda, then .ug domain is preferable. If you’re the owner of a barber shop in Ntinda and want a website for your business, it doesn’t matter whether you go with awesomedude.com or awesomedudes.ug.
Just bare in mind that .ug domains are 3 times more expensive than .com ones. So if you asked me, I would go with .com purely on cost basis. But if awesomedudes.com is not available, I don’t have any other choice other than going with the country-domain awesomedudes.ug.
Self-hosting vs shared-hosting
After you’ve settled on a domain name for your new website, the next thing is now choosing your hosting options. Your website need to “live” somewhere on some computers on the internet. There are two options; self-hosting and shared-hosting.
With self-hosting, you are in charge of managing and maintaining your website. It’s like owning your own house. In fact, you’re also in charge of setting the computer or server that runs your website and maintaining it. That means setting up things like public IP address, DNS configurations, Web servers like Apache, Database server like Mysql, Content management system like WordPress etc. Now if you don’t understand this stuff, then self-hosting isn’t for you — unless you have someone who actually understands these things and can maintain them. For high-traffic websites or web applications, I recommend self-hosting. Dignited website is for instance self-hosted, but that’s because we have geeks who wake up to make sure things are up and running.
You can self-host with VPS providers such as Linode or DigitalOcean for as low as $5/month on DigitalOcean for instance. If you’ve a high-traffic site, then you’re looking at getting a server with 2GB of RAM which costs $20/month on Linode and DigitalOcean. That’s a cool Ugx 72, 600 per month or Ugx 871,200 per year at the current dollar rate. That’s not counting the money you have to pay for someone to maintain the server for you. It’s expensive, but you’ve freedom and enhanced performance.
Shared-hosting is the easier and cheaper option. In fact most websites in Uganda follow shared-hosting planning. Shared-hosting is like renting an apartment. There are several tenants who co-share the space. It’s cheaper and the landlord takes care of certain things for you. You don’t bother with plumbing, gardening, security etc. It’s all on the landlord. You only care about stuff inside your own apartment.
If you own a company site that simply has your cooperate profile, contact form etc, then shared-hosting is for you. Everything –most of it — is already taken care of by the hosting company. awesomedudes.com for instance is fine running on shared-hosting. It’s also ideal for low-traffic websites and less security-sensitive sites. A bank for instance definitely shouldn’t be on shared hosting even if it gets only a couple of visitors per months.
Depending on your web hosting provider, shared-hosting costs from Ugx 100,000 to 300,000 per year depending on your needs, in the case of webhoster vergleich is much more affordable. Compare that to Ugx 871,000 on self-hosting, it’s a big margin. But you loose control and customization with shared-hosting — a lot of it.
Website hosting and design companies in Uganda
Lastly you will have to choose a web hosting and design company if you go with Shared-hosting. These are like your digital landlords. They do most of the heavy-lifting for you. Most web hosting companies in Uganda are re-sellers, meaning they also have Landlords who manage the real computing infrastructure on their behalf.
Web hosting companies most times will both design a website for you and then host it as well. It’s possible of course to have someone else design and develop your website and then have it hosted by another company altogether. Usually, you get a good website developer to design your website and then host it with another firm. Website design starts from Ugx 500,000 going forward. Anything below is as you would expect below the line.
Now lets be clear, mentioning some service providers here isn’t an endorsement. You’ve to do your own homework. Some of the website hosting and development firms in Uganda we know include HatariCloud, Hostalite, NodeSix, Jolis Intercom, Junction Systems among several others.
So there you have it; a complete beginner’s guide to website hosting and design in Uganda. If you think we missed out anything important, let us know in the comments.
Full disclosure: HatariCloud is an affiliate webhosting and design company. They host Dignited, Storipot among several other high-traffic websites and applications in Uganda. The offer reliable, fast web hosting, domain booking and email with great customer care. Check them out right now via http://www.hataricloud.com/.
Image: Google datacenters