Lessons I Learnt Building My First Website


It was already 4:00 am in the morning and I still had quite a few things to finish on my website project before my pitch presentation the next day. That was the time I realized that I definitely have many more tasks to finish on my site but within a limited time. Oh no!!!! 

This night is not the first time I spend at iSpace Foundation (A Co-working space) located in Accra, Labone. I had quit my job working as a business process and brands manager at a fast moving consumer company to join an all women incubator at iSpace called Unlocking Women and Technology (UWAT) and we were almost done with the program and getting ready for our final startup presentation. The program was a 9-month long program with 3 months introduction to coding and 6 months of business development training.

This was the point I transitioned from not understanding the backend of a WIX website to working with CSS, HTML AND JAVASCRIPT. We were almost done with the 9 month program and our assignment or final project is to use our knowledge to build a website or web app for our business idea and I was building a website for an African craft marketplace. This is how Muqafrik started!

I got some heavy bootstrap template eventually (lol) which was so slow because for some reason; I wanted a lot of features to display on the final pitch day (not a great idea though, I learned eventually). I got to design my site with my many benefits and the next thing to do was to to build the back end and launch it on a hosting platform. 

That was how my problem started, I didn’t learn anything about building the back end of a website and for some reason, I did not think about it when I started designing my website. When I inquired; I was told that I needed to learn another language to be able to do a back end and I had just about a week or 2 to finish my final project for presentation! At this point, I became very desperate because I am not sure what to do. I went ahead to ask friends to help me and they were became reluctant because I will not be able to pay.

The story went on and on until a mentor came to iSpace and introduced me to CMS systems for ecommerce; wordpress. I jumped on it! I had an experience already with wordpress when I watched it on Udemy and helped a friend build a website. But that was a blog website and I had not tried it for ecommerce.

At that point, I had no choice but to jump on wordpress. iSpace gave us free domain and I begged a good friend to help me with his card because I did not have one at the moment. So I purchased my hosting, used his card to register on Envato Marketplace and bought my first premium theme for a marketplace!

That website just like my bootstrap design was very heavy with plugins and loaded very slowly. Yes, it was definitely not a smooth journey and I will not be able to say everything but this was exactly what I needed to help me learn from my mistakes and discover the many things I know today.

Just like the average African youth, I found myself unemployed right after graduate school. I was looking for jobs instead of working on myself. One day, I told myself that if no one will give me the table to sit on, I will build my own table and sit on it. That was how I ventured into the world of building an ecommerce website, sat with investors, spoken to partners overseas and eventually got a job offer as a Project Manager at an International Business Advisory Company.

The goal of this post is to tell you my experience and to remind you that you are the architect of your life. The only way to learn something is to actually do it, there are no two ways about that. Learn to build website by building a website, look for a company and intern and learn even if you have to do it for free.

I tell many people; pick a passion project in any field you want to master in and teach yourself by making mistakes ie if you don’t get the chance to intern in a company you want.

“You can be anything you want, if you put your mind to it”

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