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This Month at TechSoup: Sharpen Your Website

This Month at TechSoup: Sharpen Your Website

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Over the next five weeks, we're going to be sharing a variety of resources on web design and development for nonprofits and public libraries. Each week, come back to this post for new resources on a different topic relating to web design. Think of it as Spring Cleaning for your website.

Week 1: The Basics

A Cooperative Approach to Web Design
Building a website doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require some thinking about your nonprofit’s message, audience, and goals. (This article is a chapter in the forthcoming book Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals. Read more about the book here.)

A Nonprofit’s Guide to Building Simple, Low-Cost Websites
A well-designed, user-friendly website can help you engage new members, raise money, and communicate with decision-makers. But creating this site affordably, and finding the right tools to build and host it, can be a challenge — especially when you are relying on in-house talent with little or no web-development expertise.

What Story Does Your Nonprofit’s Website Tell?
Does your nonprofit’s website tell a clear story of your organization, or a watered-down mixture of several stories?

Week 2: HTML, CSS, and Beyond

How Websites Work
Even if you never need to code a single line of your site, arming yourself with an understanding of how HTML, CSS, and content management systems (CMSs) are used to build webpages can help you every step of the way. Don't worry; this will be quick and painless.

Tips for Designing (or Redesigning) a Nonprofit Website
The guidelines in this classic article can help you plan and design a polished, functional website that meets your organization's needs. We'll discuss some of the major phases of a design project, some of the lingo and jargon you'll encounter, and the tools and skill sets you'll need to set your sights on a great, new site.

HTML Is Easier Than It Looks
You might not be a professional web developer, but with a little help, you can learn how to troubleshoot formatting problems on your website.

Week 3: The RFP Process

The RFP Process for Nonprofits and Libraries
An RFP is a document that describes a project's needs and asks for proposed solutions (along with pricing, timing, and other details) from qualified vendors. When they're well crafted, RFPs can introduce an organization to high-quality vendor-partners and consultants from outside their established networks and ensure that a project is completed as planned. Read more to learn how to write a winning RFP. You can also view sample RFPs and visit our RFP Library for more resources to start any tech project out right.

How Much Should a Website Cost?
In this previously recorded webinar, Allen Gunn, the executive director of Aspiration, covers the steps to follow to streamline the process and minimize costs, what you can expect to pay for different types of websites, and website technologies specific to the nonprofit sector.

Week 4: Content Management Systems

Gateway to the Arts: A Web Design Story
Learn how one Pittsburgh-based nonprofit built a new website around the needs of its audience.

Bad Websites, Good Fundraising
When people look at the website of a nonprofit organization, they're looking for evidence that it's a real organization with real people with whom they can really communicate, not necessarily the most professional website.

Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems
This is an excerpt from the 60-page independent Idealware report that provides a summary of what open source content management systems are, what features are often useful to nonprofits, and a detailed comparison of WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Plone.

Joomla for Nonprofits
Is the popular open-source solution to create and edit website content for non-technical users right for you?

Week 5: Metrics and Analytics

A Few Good Web Analytics Tools
Web analytics tools help you track your site's statistics, which let you see how many people are looking at each page, what sites they came from, and other information to help develop a picture of who your audience is. But which web analytics tool should you use? This article, completely updated in 2011, summarizes what six different nonprofit experts recommend.

Site Statistics and User Privacy for Nonprofit Websites
Is your visitors' information being used by others? What responsibility do you have to explain to your site's users what information they're giving away by visiting your site and to whom? In this article, we'll explore some privacy issues surrounding web analytics and other website tools.

Simplicity in Web Design
Once you’ve identified how users need to interact with your organization’s website, it’s time to eliminate the distractions.

Come back each week until the end of May for more ideas and resources, and share your own in the comments!

Photo: Joe Athialy, CC license

Elliot Harmon
Staff Writer, TechSoup

  • I love the thoroughness of this.  Thank you for your continual commitment to depth and breadth.  I have probably at this point dozens of techsoup articles built into my task manager, with the intention of connecting them to other aspects of my work.  

    Now I just wish I had more time in a day to absorb and implement all of this information!


  • Thanks for the great feedback, Ryan! Glad to hear that all this content is useful to you in your work. We worked hard to write and compile it all into easy-to-digest pieces, so hopefully it'll serve your needs and those of other readers.

    Since you've commented on other posts about learning more about CMSes and web development, I'd be interested to hear how you're using this content (blog posts, articles, what have you). We'd love for your feedback and if you found something particularly useful so we can do more of it in the future.

    Thanks again for taking the time to let us know you liked it!


  • Hey Becky,

    Proving that working past 1:00 AM is a bad idea, I composed what I wrote below this shorter paragraph in response to your comment... since it might be useful, I'll just leave it.  In response to what you actually said, I'll definitely be posting around and let you know what tools and information I've found particularly useful!

    I wish I could say I had a great deal of experience to discuss with the tools presented here, but in terms of web work I've mainly worked with Squarespace's platform.  They're not free, but their platform is wonderfully easy to set up and administrate.  It takes most of the programming out of the web-development scene.  Its more advanced packages also allow for an unlimited number of editors, so extending the number of people who can develop content is easy to set up and manage.  They also have lots of pre-built page templates that allow for easily including things like interactive web forms, photo galleries, and lots more (and adding new pages is incredibly easy) + drag-and-drop reorganization.  They have built-in site-traffic analytics, a file-management system (with the option to make micro file managers that editors can use), a member-management database built in... suffice to say, I really like their platform.  

    Signing off somewhat sheepishly,


  • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Ryan. It's valuable to hear a variety of perspectives and tools people have used so that our readers (and we, as staff here at TechSoup) have an idea of what's out there and how it compares to other options.

    Your feedback is always welcome here and in our forums, so keep on sharing!


    Becky :)