10 worst websites in Zimbabwe

If content is king, then design (website) is the castle. Good web design for businesses not only has the content to peak audience interest for whatever product or service you’re selling, but also has an intuitive UI to encourage sales.

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internet

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Lots of designers think they have brilliant ideas for designing UI, but without real world user experience telling them what their audience needs. How can one know if their design is the best? As Steve Jobs once said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”. And some of these sites don’t work as they should.

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The state of some government websites is so bad that even hackers feel they shouldn’t be allowed any space on the web, and have either defaced them or taken them down completely.

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While there are several explanations for this common trend, it is sad that these websites that are supposed to be the gateway to the nation and its people, have successfully taken the country backward to the pre-Internet age. As a techie, if I need something I turn to the Web. I do a quick search to find a service provider or before engaging with one, to check out their services online. Often, I do a quick check on a company website to find out where it is located, or what its operating hours are.

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I was doing my usual rounds of content curation when I stumbled upon the website of  Zimdancehall awards. This website severely shocked me. Seriously,  is Zimbabwe currently experiencing is a well hidden information technology crises.

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I was disappointed when I visited the site trying to vote for my favorite Zimdancehall artiste. I had the worst online experience ever. To be honest, I can forgive design because not everyone is gifted with the eye of a proper designer but proper validation and functionality cannot be compromised. How can someone tell me they did use those results from a flawed voting system to crown a winner?

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While many technology companies have a reasonable online presence, often complete with a flashy non-responsive design, there are still too many companies that seem to have a Web presence that would put Geocities, the online Web builder and hosting service from the 1990s, to shame.

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Call me vain, but whenever I visit a website, its appearance pretty much dictates whether or not I’ll give it any credibility (or revisit it). Now when that website is owned by the government of a country and flaunted as the ‘gateway’ to the nation and its people, the hawked-eyed me takes over.  In fact, I often cross a business off my list if its Web presence is not up to scratch. It may sound a little dramatic, but I’m sure the smart, tech-savvy readers of this website have done it, too.

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The Internet has become such a big part of daily life that, no matter the size of your business, having a website — and a well-designed website at that — is no longer something reserved only for online businesses or technology firms. After looking at over 100 websites, I came to the informed conclusion that many Zimbabwean companies are stuck in a technology time warp that affects how projects like a government portal are built.

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There’s no simple explanation for this. Bureaucracy and bottlenecking, lack of understanding on ICTs, nepotism and favoritism, long procurement cycles for even minor government technology projects, slow speed of approval to operate new technologies that government or private IT managers have to deal with all contribute to the glacial adoption and implementation of new technology.

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With the faces at the top of government agencies changing every few years, each bringing some marquee project to burnish their résumés, it can take a decade to effect policy changes that last. And this for Government site! What is your excuse as a company?

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Don’t be surprised that in 2015, a government agent or company’s standard server platform is still run on Windows Server 2003.

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I know of listed company still running Windows 98. I am not saying every business needs to run a high-end Web server with e-commerce and all the bells and whistles. But there are a few basics that every business needs to get right.

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Zimbabwe has no shortage of Web developers. A quick Google search will uncover some of the more popular ones. After all, a good Web developer should have a great online presence, not so?

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What other Zimbabwean website do you think should be on our worst list? Some other official government websites should be on this list, but we decided to feature only a few because we  think we are hitting them below the belt.

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• http://zimdancehallawards.com/

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• www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/

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• http://www.rbz.co.zw/

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• http://www.yoafrica.com/

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• http://www.zanupf.org.zw/

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• http://www.comone.co.zw/

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• http://zimhealth.org/

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•http://www.zim-classifieds.com/

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• http://www.zimra.co.zw/

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• http://zispa.org.zw/

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–Feedback: pardongatsi@techunzipped.com