This post was originally published January 12, 2010, and is being featured again as a part of our Sharpen Your Website campaign.

If you didn't get the chance to watch it live, please take an hour to watch the TechSoup Talks! webinar What Should a Website Cost? with special guest Allen Gunn. Though Gunner does answer the webinar's titular question, he does a lot more than that, taking us step-by-step through the process of scoping, planning, sourcing, and executing a website redesign. It's a highly entertaining and engaging listen.

One point that comes up a few times in the webinar is that good content for your website is (and should be) more work than the website design itself. Gunner posits that for many nonprofits, a website design may be the first time they think in concrete terms about the story and message that they tell the public. At Poke the Beehive, Dan challenges you to ask yourself whether your nonprofit's story has a clear call to action at all: "There are countless nonprofits out there who, given their limited impact, don't really have a reason to exist. Don't be one of them. If you can't tell a compelling story about your organization and its mission, then perhaps you should reconsider what you're doing or how you're doing it."

It's often the case that different stakeholders, both inside and outside of the organization, have their own stories of who the organization is and what it does. That's expected, but the unfortunate thing is when the nonprofit's homepage and other media present a watered-down compromise rather than a clear story. Before our redesign last year, TechSoup's homepage reflected such a compromise. Each program had its own box for recent updates, but there was no overarching narrative. If your site lacks a clear message and call to action, then it doesn't matter how pretty it is: it brands your organization as confused and disarrayed; on the other hand, if your website's message is clear, direct, and actionable, then even the most technically crude site can engage with visitors in a beneficial way.

While we're on the subject of your nonprofit's story, here are a couple other quick thoughts:

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Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões, CC license

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What's the best way to tell your nonprofit's story? Share your thoughts in this Web Building forum discussion.

Elliot Harmon
Staff Writer, TechSoup