o I was one of the lucky few who got invited to the TelOne event where they launched their new website and mobile app. As a digital marketing fanatic in my own right, I want to analyse, dissect and proffer a view from the terrace on these exciting new digital platforms for TelOne. Before we even get to that, I must admit I’ve been impressed by how TelOne has managed to change the brand perception from a government institution to a free market driven enterprise. Since the new leadership was installed at TelOne, there has been a strong customer focus, product innovation and a rebranding exercise which has saw them launch a new logo which embodies life, energy and a certain exuberance. Kudos to TelOne leadership team for dissociating yourselves from the parastatal tag and for giving private players like Zol a run for their money.
Well, back to the subject matter of the day. I want to breakdown the technical and soft elements of the website and mobile app from a learned point of view.
The strategic thinking behind the site
The first and paramount element to assess on a website is the thinking behind the website? A website is only as good as the thought process and strategic intent that went into it. Questions such as
- What is the website meant to achieve from a business and consumer point of view? Why are we launching a website?
- What do we want users to do when they access our site?
- What is the key information we need for users to immediately access?
- How can we ensure users spend more time browsing our site?
Any website should be able to answer these fundamental questions which seek to establish the raison de tre as it ultimately informs the structure, user navigation and functionality of the website. The TelOne website, it seems in my view was created with the consumer in mind and from the homepage the content is structured so much that a user has an opportunity to choose if they are a consumer or business client. The site also has an amalgamation of consumer (product centric) and corporate information but the prominence is towards products. Furthermore, the TelOne website offers users an opportunity to interact through live chats, self-service, user portal and facilitates online payments. For me, these services are key as users will generally spend more time on the site thus reducing site bounce rate and retain unique users.
_A website is only as good and searchable as it’s search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is basically ensuring that your website content, links and it’s technical makeup is favourable to search engines such as Google for indexing. There’s a whole lot more about SEO but this will suffice for the purposes of evaluating this site. In this section I just want to focus on basic elements of SEO which are keyword optimization and meta descriptions. SEO is vitally important because not all users know your website url or know the services that you offer but they ask search engines for information. A look at TelOne’s view-source of the website shows the site is not optimized for search, they are no meta keywords and meta descriptions of the website. In addition, the overall site is not optimized for keywords such as home internet in Zimbabwe, cheap home internet etc (where TelOne doesn’t appear in the first page). This is remarkably poor from the website developers who have neglected such an important part of building a website. On the contrast, their eternal rivals Zol’s site is optimized for most of the keywords which locals use when looking for local internet options.
UX and UI
The User Experience and User Interface are the other critical elements in evaluating a website. The UX design is basically the process of enhancing the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product while UI design is centred on making the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals. The TelOne site’s navigation is great in that the top navigation panels can immediately direct consumers and business clients to their respective sections. The information architecture is great in getting users’ attention as to what they are looking for. I also did an evaluation of the responsiveness of the site to mobile devices and the rendering appears good save for the homepage gallery image which is cut. The design and branding is great but they could’ve done better in ensuring the homepage gallery text is in their blue as it appears drowned in the grey background of the image. In addition, it is best practice to have a rotating homepage so that users don’t get fatigued from seeing the same image over and over again.
The last point I evaluate and possibly the most important is to what extent is the site promoting and facilitating lead generation? It is not beneficial having a website for providing information only without facilitating sales or sales lead generation. The TelOne website seems to fail in this regard as they are no call to actions on the homepage directing users to sign up if interested in acquiring their services. A great website and particularly in this industry should facilitate lead generation and this needs to have prominence on the homepage, if a non-customer goes through your website, you then want them to call you for a service? There’s live chat but it’s always better to have a lead form easily accessed from the homepage. The key question should always be, what do we want a customer and non-customer to do when they visit our site? As such, I would include CTAs on the homepage with an immediate option for users to choose a package of their choice.
In conclusion TelOne has done well in launching a new, fresh and consumer centric website as it demonstrates the seriousness of their investment in becoming the leading ISP in Zimbabwe. The site is visually great but they are several teething issues which they need to address, some images are of poor quality, the SEO etc can be resolved. In my next article I will review the new TelOne Experience mobile app.