How I End Up Building a Website: Showing Up ^ Exposure matters

It may sound an over statement to claim a website builder/designer role without any skill of coding.  Off course, I took a few courses of the basics of coding a decade and a half ago as part of my BSc. degree in electrical engineering. Yes, I have been working in the technology space for many years. Yet, all are far from being sufficient to enable me to be good at coding to the level of designing a meaningful website. I enjoy experimenting with new developments and that is essentially what I did in the story I am going to share with you now.

For sure, I know, technology is a means to an end, not an end by itself. When done right, it helps us solve real life problems and make our life a lot easier. Unfortunately, Ethiopian schools at all levels, at least in my time, do not prepare us for this world of reality. The question of quality aside, the education system merely focuses on the science or the technology aspect. I still see graduates struggle translating their academic background to the real world of work and they are not the only ones to be blamed. I had solved hundreds of mathematics or physics problems without being able to relate them to the real world.  Neither we have bridging institutions in the market place.

We are talking about website, right? Yup, Websites have become one of the key components of organizations and enterprises. Blog posts and news letters are particularly useful as an organic marketing tools. Keeping that in mind, I have for long been envy of an active society with a free flow of useful information across business ecosystems which I believe is sufficiently lacking in the Ethiopian market. I always question why organizations and enterprises, public and private alike, in Ethiopia, do not have a website and why most do not have an updated and useful information when they have one. I think I figured it out as I faced the problem myself.

The straight forward answer is, organizations and enterprises do not see the value of having and maintaining an active website.

Why? Follow me to learn.

I have a strong desire for professional blogging. I find blogging a great avenue for reflection and sharing experience to the wider circle of networks, essentially to the youth behind me.  I though it as an opportunity and a means of learning from one another and I started to explore the available tools. The social media especially LinkedIn is a great tool. Blog spot (the free version of blogger) is also one other useful means with a free hosting service. But after a while, I find them problematic. They have limited features and they are not in my 100% control either. So, I wanted to have my own website.  

I contacted website developers. Agreed a price with one of them. Provided contents and the paper design of the basic features(menus). Then, patiently waited for long to see the draft website. After a triple months, more than agreed, of delay, comes the website draft, and it was a complete dismay. Copy pasted and carelessly organized set of features without any consideration of my needs. Then, I had to sit for a study and restructure the website menus myself sacrificing an unnecessary cost and time.

 Why am I telling you this?

My personal story may seem simplistic but it is all the norm in the market. Big organizations and enterprises invest significant number of resources for websites. Yet still, many websites are far from what enterprises wanted them to be. In time, they lose the momentum and overlook the real value of websites.

Related: For Ethiopian New Graduates & Youth: Defining ICT (Infrastructure) Roles in the Market Place!

For me, most website developers in the market failed to see the end. They failed to see the end from the perspective of organizations and enterprises. Most organizations and enterprises do not have the knowledge of how websites work. They know they wanted one but solely depend on developers for its realization.

On the other hand, most website developers, at least the ones I tried to reach them out, do not seem to care for the services the websites are meant to solve. There is a clear disconnect of technology as a tool and the real-life problem to be solved. When organizations and enterprises are reaching out to developers with an assumption that developers would do the best on their behalf, I tell you, they are leaving an important tool to chance. They must ensure a clear understanding of what they wanted to do with websites and a strict supervision throughout the iterative development process.

One other key component of website developers often do not clearly tell or prepare organizations is the need and importance of an ongoing maintenance. Website is a combination of multiple software (CMS, hosting, plugins/ extensions etc.) with an ongoing need of update be for feature improvement or security reasons. Failure to manage the maintenance of these components means, either the website features become old and irrelevant and/or its security vulnerability is at stake.  Either way, the website deteriorates fast to being meaningless and useless.

For example, you might have observed that Ethiopian public institutions of the highest level and their officials depended on personal Gmail accounts risking public data breach for the very reason that their self-hosted systems are not reachable or reliable.  

What did I do?

Building on my previous experience, I started working on a website fully by myself. For the sake of time and with a plan to focus on the contents, I initially contacted developers. As I asked more questions and laid out the features and the look of what I wanted from the websites, they started to look away requesting an unreasonably high development cost that I cannot afford. I knew that it is not because it costs that much but because they were not confident with the outcome. They realized that this is not a copy pasted type they are used to.

Related: Comments, Likes and Clicks Carry More Good and Money than Many Ethiopians Think

Luckily, experts in other markets knew the understanding gap between the developers and the business needs. Setting their minds to the end, these experts developed templates that can work on a simple drag and drop basis hiding all the coding jargon behind.  They make Freemium templates available having additional useful features if you can afford to pay. An astonishing relief to the likes of me, right? That is how I built Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters and off course you can do it too easily.   

Broadly speaking, the business mindset and the service orientation is something that Ethiopia should do better. As a developing country, we have enough of problems but we can also develop solutions to address them one by one if we set our minds to the end. Technology, like the website case in this story, is the means to an end, not an end by itself.

Mr.  Ren Zhengfei, Huawei founder and chairman, and the company I worked with for many years, once said

A university professor could still be considered successful working in the laboratory without inventing anything new for life; Huawei as a company, however, must translate ideas to prototypes, test them in real life fast, and then decide either to scale it or scrape it; That way we ensure our products and solutions are solving real life problems.

With more than 110 million people having more than 60% of younger demographic composition, Ethiopia should not leave the importance of business mindset and service orientation to chance. Every one of us should ask, what does the technology we are working on solve or does?

Betelhem Dessie, CEO iCog, in her recent article, titled Ethiopian Tech Ecosystem Analysis, opined among others that

she found most start up founders in Ethiopia too technical often neglecting the business aspect of their operation resulting in a constrained growth of the overall tech ecosystems in the country.  

The website story as a real case, it would plainly be a missed opportunity not to do something and change the business mindset and service orientation of graduates in particular and the work force in general. Only in that way the market needs will be fairly served, while creating decent jobs for millions amidst a fierce competition across the globe.

As you try to grasp the interdependency between the tech and business sides, you will realize how important tool a website (and app, its next version) is. Although still on a development stage in most parts, Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters, is a real case to take a serious note.


For sure, I still cannot dare to claim the expert role in website development ( recall that building is used on purpose as opposed to designing and/or developing) nor does the website case I am talking about is close to perfect but I can tell the current disconnect between tech and business needs, why enterprises should not see the real value of having active websites and how developers can orient themselves and address the gaps by equally focusing on the business and service needs too. In fact, the business and service needs should be the driver for the technology aspiration, not the other way round. I don’t see the relevance of technology ( for the sake of technology) unless it helps address a problem in real life.

To benchmark your communication as you brainstorm clients’ needs, I suggest to read: Information Compression: Why the wrong thing happens. The article will give you the perspective.



In my upcoming article, you will read why I launched Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters,  and  why I think it matters in the Ethiopian context. Do signup to my blog to receive insights in real time.

End.  One final Thought: What ever we do to succeed,

Showing Up Matters

We write and Podcast on career growth & personal development and inspire the youth to take action. 

3 thoughts on “How I End Up Building a Website: Showing Up ^ Exposure matters”

  1. User Avatar

    Folks (Ethiopia)

    What does digital mean to you today?
    And what about an active website?

    Have you ever wondered why many (not all) Ethiopia based enterprises do not consider websites as a useful tool in conveying information and when they do have one, it is mostly old and irrelevant content?

    As someone who constantly looks after public data for an ongoing research work, it has always been a dismay. If you are like me, have you ever asked yourself why?

    I think I have got an idea. Simply, they don’t see the value.
    And again, you may ask why they don’t see the value?

    Once, you read the following piece, you will have my perspective.
    Let me read yours in the comment section below or underneath the article itself.

    And don’t forget to sign up at and follow Showing Up and Exposure Matters to read related perspectives.

  2. Pingback: Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters, and Why I Think It Matters More in the Ethiopian Context » Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters

  3. Pingback: Insights of ICT Infrastructure Sector and Way Forward in Ethiopia » Showing Up ^ Exposure Matters

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