I Built an African Travel Advisory Tool with Pory in 4 Days.

Hello, I’m the Co-founder of Afriktrip, an online marketplace for travelers to find and book tours, activities, and things to do in African countries for the holiday. These tours and activities are organised by local tour guides and operators.

As a product builder ↗️, I have built a lot of products to solve either my own problems or the problems of others over the last 3 years. The most notable of them was Cralocs — featured on ProductHunt #5. Cralocs was an online film location rental platform, you can think of it as the Airbnb for Film Locations. Check it out on ProductHunt HERE.

I discovered that information regarding visiting Africa such as The Best Time to Visit, Entry Requirements, Covid19 Requirements, and many more are scattered everywhere, so there is a need to pull in this information into one place. This was also the case for people that just want to know more about Africa.

So early this year (1st of January, 2021 to be precise), I decided to build a tool to aggregate all these information into one place. It took me four days to build it and I will share how I built this with you.

PS: Everybody copies, just copy from the best. I will somehow be following the “How I Built This” template used by Zoe Chew in most of her medium posts.

Ideation Stage 💡

Let’s name this tool— Afroscanner (it is really hard naming products). An online directory of amazing travel destinations in Africa with travel information regarding visiting these destinations.

Users can search for an African country such as Ghana, Kenya, and many more or search destinations in Africa such as Victoria Falls, Point of No Return, find information regarding visiting these countries, and also they can access tours and activities to do in African countries in partnership with Afritkrip.

Users can also access this tool from the web. To begin, I listed down the parts I want to build:

  • A Landing Page
  • An online directory.
  • A section that allows users access tours and activities on Afriktrip.

Find Tools

The next step for me was to find the right tools to build a Minimum Viable Product in the shortest possible time and spend zero dollar building it. So I went searching and found

  • Pory — Landing Page and Directory View
  • Airtable — Database
  • Mailchimp — Email Subscription
  • Bitly — Link Tracking/Analytics (will explain this later)
  • Afriktrip — Tours and Activities to book in African Countries.
  • ProductHunt — Launch and Marketing
Toolkit

Create a Rough Design ✍️

Before starting, I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, but after seeing some of the existing templates on Pory, I decided to do a redesign. Nothing fancy, just me sketching the product on my yellow notes.

L-R: Sketch of Main Destination Page with Hex Color. Sketch of the Main Website.

Set Up Airtable ⚒️

Let’s work on the database we are going to be pulling the data from. I logged in to my Airtable account and created a new base based on the templates I found. Here is a link to the templates.

Set Up Pory ⚒️

Go to Pory. app and sign up for a free account.

Pory allows you to build online directory/marketplace-ish websites with Airtable and integrate with tools such as Mailchimp, Google Analytics, and many more.

  • Select a template
  • Add a name to the template
  • Connect your Airtable base via an API to your Pory account

Design the Landing Page 🖌️

The website is pretty much blank at this point, just a header with an image and your blank directory (this is if you haven’t added data to the Airtable).

Pory allows you to add sections to the website. There is a wide range of sections you could add such as Footers, Subscribe Forms, and many more. I chose the Subscribe Form and Footer. For the subscribe form, I had to connect my MailChimp account to Pory (you can do this by following this link).

NOTE: this Landing page design was based on the what I had sketched out.

Afroscanner Footer

Fill in Airtable with Data 📝

This was the longest part of the work, as I and my co-founder had to manually add data to the table. I did the adding, she did the review. In an empty table, I began to add the parameters.

Airtable Data
  • Country Name (Ghana, Nigeria,……). I used the list of countries on Afriktrip. As of today, we have tours and activities in 28 out of the 54 African countries.
  • Images (I opted for three to five images per country and this included the Flag of the country). Most of the images were gotten either from some of the activities on Afriktrip or via Unsplash.
  • Best Time to Visit (for this, I sourced data from a lot of online travel websites and blogs). I tried my best to give them credits. I also had to write them down so I don’t forget.
  • Entry Requirements (also got my information from some online tools and immigration websites). Knowing that the visa requirements are different for most countries, I included a link to where they can find more information.
  • Covid19 Test Requirements (Information also from online sources and covid websites such as CDC, WHO, and many more). This was a simple yes or no.
  • Link to Tours and Activities (i just had to plug in my startup). So for every country listed, I added a link to where you can find tours and activities to do in that country. Who knows, someone might need it.

To keep track that I didn’t miss any, I listed all the countries on my yellow paper and ticked off the country I had finished uploading. I also made a list of all the travel blogs and websites I referenced.

Up Next, Designing The Directory Section 🖌️

You can do this without fully adding all the data to the Airtable form, I even recommend you do this. At this stage, I decided how I wanted the details in the Airtable form to be viewed.

Pory did a great job by making it drag and drop. You get to design the main page card, on-click behavior and you can also design what users will see when they click the destination.

Design the Main Destination View

In my case, I did the following -

  • Destination Card — just images in a slider and the name of the country.
  • On-click behavior — I selected pop-out.
  • Destination Details — I arranged this in the form of an image first with a “Book Tours and Activities to do on the side”, the Best time to visit, Entry requirements, and finally coronavirus test requirements.
Design the Destination Card View

Add Domain Name and Description ⚙️

Pory allows you to add your own domain name. I used the free version, so my domain name came with the .pory.app at the end of it. I also created a simple logo with Canva and used a tool to resize it as a Favicon.

Final Step, Review and Publish 🌐

My co-founder reviewed the data I added to the Airtable, while I did some UX and copy review on the website. Then we published it and launched it on ProductHunt.

Afroscanner Homepage

✅For Those Building Online Marketplaces and the Rest

If I wanted other users to be able to make edits or add more destinations (product) to the list, all I needed to do was to turn the Airtable sheet into a form and share the form with them. Once a user adds data to the form, it automatically shows on the page.

You could even make it nicer, by connecting your Airtable form to Zapier and creating a Zap to send a notification to you via Email after every user adds a new product.

Why Did I Add a Bitly Link

This is kinda a hack. So because we are using the free version, Pory doesn’t grant us access to connect Analytic tools such as Google Analytics. So if you want to kind of track people who click links on the website, just use a bitly link instead. For free, you will get to see how many people clicked on the link, when they clicked, and many more.

👍 Upvote Afroscanner on ProductHunt here

👍 Visit Afroscanner here

👍 If you are interested in visiting Africa, check out Afriktrip here, we allow you to Book Now and Pay Later.

👍 Find me on Twitter
👍 Find me on LinkedIn

Co-Founder of Afriktrip, Software Developer, and Student Representative