In recognizing emerging websites, rather than those managed by large companies, Africa.com seeks to inspire South African entrepreneurs, bloggers, artists, and small non-profit companies to join the global digital community.
You don’t have to have a lot of money, or a lot of technical skills to have a website in this day. Anyone with access to a computer and the internet can create a website to fulfill their dreams of starting a business, publishing their own writing, showcasing their art, finding customers from around the world and creating a community of like-minded people.
In evaluating the thousands of South African emerging websites, we chose the Top Emerging Websites. Each serves as a great example for emerging small business owners or budding entrepreneurs and we listed them based on five primary criteria: content; structure and navigation; aesthetic design; functionality; and overall user experience.
(Note: A breakdown of this criteria can be found at the end of this post.)
Monkeyland is a wonderful educational site with pages of information accompanied by original photographs and videos. It is the world’s first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary, and its founders hope to create awareness about the plight of primates and to show that with a greater understanding we can all live in harmony.
2. SA School of Cookery
SA School of Cookery made the list because they are more than a school enrollment site. They offer a range of fun courses, which include workshops involving chocolate, sugar art, cake decorating, pasta-making and so much more! You’ll find recipes, tips and photo’s of their work throughout the site. So, whether it’s a professional culinary career you’re after or just some extra home-cooking skills, they can help you.
3. Inspired Living South Africa
A beautiful inspirational lifestyle website created by proud South African, Fiona Rossiter. Rossiter believes one of the main issues that women battle with is self-confidence and not realizing their true potential. She hopes to help women discover or re-discover, their inner diva.
4. Sandton Hair
A great African entrepreneur story is featured on this service industry website. Vusi Makate’s journey to owning Sandton Hair, an upmarket salon serving black and white customers in premier shopping mall Sandton City, is an incredibly inspiring story. Vusi’s ascent shows that if you have talent and discipline, anything is possible.
5. HelloOow Handmade
A business with an outreach effort in mind, this site is lovely to browse and the story behind the product makes it extra special. The founder, Merewyn de Heer has assembled a team of talented & enthusiastic ladies who are all HIV affected. She finds it very rewarding to see them regain self-worth and confidence. Together, they are learning new skills daily, working with crochet, knitting, pottery and needlework, creating gorgeous handmade products.
6. Gorgeous Kids
This beautiful ecommerce site is definitely one of our favorites. The founder is a Mom who, after 15 years of working up the corporate ladder in Johannesburg, knew it was time to make a change. She thoughtfully started Gorgeous Kids to bring the latest award-winning designs in baby, kids and new Moms products from around the globe to Moms in South Africa.
7. Game Rangers of South Africa
Stunning photography along with extensive information will keep visitors moving from page to page on this website. The Game Rangers’ Association of Africa provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. They believe that game rangers should operate with pride, and with passion for their profession while promoting best management practices in ensuring the conservation of Africa’s natural heritage.
8. Hubertha Guest House
Helette and Tinus Erasmus have owned their home since they were newlyweds in the 1980s. The Hubertha website successfully showcases the beauty of the luxuriously appointed guest house. The name was chosen as a tribute to a very famous hippopotamus who made her way from KwaZulu Natal to the Eastern Cape in the 1920’s. This hippo became South Africa’s “national pet” and it was scandalous that she was shot by farmers in 1931. The site is easy to browse and provides all the information you need to reserve your own getaway in the picturesque village of King William’s Town with the Amatola Mountains as a magnificent backdrop.
9. Party Platters
Party Platters has done an excellent job in bringing their delicious selections online. They had a goal to make it easy for customers to experience what they have to offer and this site delivers. Visitors to their site will appreciate the printable menu. Party Platters will customize your platters for any occasion.
10. African Home
We selected African Home because of the mission focus of their website. African Home was established in March 2002 by two South African female entrepreneurs Claudette Davis and Michal Leon. They were impressed with the high standard of Southern African handicraft but concerned about the high rate of poverty and unemployment in their country. They started African Home with a mission to open access to worldwide markets for local economically disadvantaged craftspeople.
Africa.com Judging Criteria
Content is the material presented on the website. It can be words as well as pictures, video, or music. We evaluate the quality of the content, whether it is informative, new and noteworthy, crisp and clear, accurate, and engaging.
2) Structure and Navigation
Structure and navigation refers to the organization of the site’s content, and the manner in which the user accesses that content. Good structure and navigation is consistent and intuitive for the user, and allows the user to find what he or she is looking for quickly.
3) Aesthetic Design
Aesthetic design refers to how the site appears visually. The elements that contribute to good aesthetic design include layout of the pages, quality and quantity of the images, and effectiveness in communicating the site’s content.
Functionality refers to the website’s use of technology. A site with good functionality loads quickly, is always “up”, does not have broken links or blank pages, works well on both slow and fast connections, and works well on mobile and tablets, in addition to desktop computers.
5) Overall Experience
The overall experience in dealing with a website allows the judges to not only take the sum of the parts (content, structure & navigation, aesthetic design and functionality) into consideration, but provides for the intangible elements that make some websites stand out. For example, the global website, craigslist.com, has a simplistic structure and navigation, poor aesthetics, and modest functionality. However, the magnitude of its content allows users to achieve their goals on this site unlike any other – need a job, car, roommate, house, guitar, short term gig, concert ticket, house painter, spare part, new dress, pet, computer or girlfriend? It is more likely that you will find it on Craig’s List than any other site.
We use Overall Experience as a criterion to reward those sites whose overall value is greater than the sum of its parts