The pains of adding dot com to your website in Uganda

2016 has been a year of incredible social media growth in Uganda with sites providing nearly everything from food to polls on the upcoming elections. Many of the social media influencers have been dropping their very long extensions on their blogs for something shorter and easier to remember ending in .com problem the designs on offer have not been impressive as their tweets. Many of the sites can’t beat the badly designed ministry and government sites out there that take ages to be updated to save the least. However these social media influencers with their new cool sites can not beat the old html based government websites with some websites looking like cheap imitations of the government sites.

As a web designer nothing cuts out CSS work like word press themes that come already premade to be responsive but there is a caveat hosting services. First task was Google search to see who gave the best deals on hosting. Many hosting services popped up however reading the reviews there was always a catch. If you signed up for longer packages you got a cheaper price per month while those that were giving the cheapest monthly prices inserted a caveat after one year the price more than tripled to close to twice the of the most popular hosting services and that’s before you swim in the muddled waters of actually sending your money to the hosting company.

Ugandan based webhosting companies have not been left behind too as many hosting companies have stepped forward strong and hard running radio ads on what the value of money in their services. Moving to a .com extension not only gives you a more professional especially if you an organisation that’s going to seek funding it can be very tricky adding wordpress.com to all your business cards plus many forums require your email to be in line with your website domain. It’s something many businesses in Uganda have jumped to but not in a nice way with pages that are static and un responsive. Others have tried the short cut of Google for business but it will cost you a minimum of 20000 Ugx per email account on your domain.

Unfortunately for local hosting services they looked out of sync with what is on their website one company after another it became clear the sales people were selling different packages than what was on the website. One host company has hosting services starting as low as 100,000 however the same site scroll a different page and the same package but priced differently. Also the website is built on a downloaded template which was badly edited with loreum impsum and dead buttons still on the template. All these leave one wondering just who is in charge of the brand image if buttons aint working while the sales people quote different figures.

I then tried the internet services providers and they didn’t have any packages on hand it’s like it’s not part of their core business. One sales person took three minutes to work out just what I was talking about before blurting out it will cost you 250,000 unlimited per year that’s before I asked about domain registration. His reasoning well customers start small and before long they have too much data to host in a small limited space. This brings me to the best advice hidden in the gibberish on word press, start with a word press hosted site with a custom domain then once you get enough number of unique visitors then you could think of going into self-hosting services.

Very disheartened I crawled back to word press like a dog with its tail in between its legs to see how much it was costing get a custom domain and alas it turns out it costs roughly 80,000 and this comes with a caveat I don’t have to struggle with design, complicated back end or up time and all the other nitty gritty that come with managing a website. Only problem was how I pay using PayPal see that’s an alien species in these parts of the world.

Google search after Google search a picture started to emerge paypal still don’t trust souls from my part of town so if you want to pay there are many stages. Number one you have to contact a local IT company with legs in the US that will then pay on your behalf. Which is cool, the other problem I have is to Google their offices end carry my soul to their doors to change from wordpress.com to simply .com. Why all this hustle still happens in this part of East Africa only the big eyed man in heaven will tell.

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