Join an online community with more than 350,000 members from 150,000+ organizations, where you can ask questions and get advice.
TechSoup hosts free weekly webinars on a variety of topics, from cloud computing to fundraising to social media and tech strategy.
Need help downloading or using your donations? You'll find essential resources on these topics and more in our support pages.
Close this window
When our organization decided to "redesign" the web site, the only one not included was me ! ;) the IT person. I am sure that is not the right way to go about it. As tclaremont wrote "everyone" does need to be involved.
Thanks for the article -- a lot of good info there.
In case it's helpful, here's a page describing some questions we recommend groups go through as they are preparing their RFP (ie. stage 1 in the article linked above).
CEDC...social justice by design (print, logo, web design by a non-profit, for non-profits)
Find us on: Facebook | Twitter
If you are interested in using a content manager, be aware that you probably don't have to pay extra for one. Most web hosts offer at least one if not several options, allowing you to have the benefit of Joomla, WordPress, etc., at the low cost rates that hosts provide.
Each organization has to find the package that's best for them, but be aware that adequate space and features that many web sites would need can be had for less than $50 per year.
I mentioned this in a different TechSoup thread about web hosting (forums.techsoup.org/cs/forums/p/17517/101044.aspx#101044), but it might be useful here as well:
I was recently evaluating web hosts for a couple of nonprofits (and myself). Besides research into the features each host offered, I had trouble figuring out customers' overall happiness with the hosts.
So I did a survey of numerous large hosting providers, combining the reviews from several large webhost review sites. In case anyone would find it useful it's at www.blazingmoon.org/news/2009/07/choosing-a-web-host/.
There are lots of great webhosting out there and just because you're a nonprofit, doesn't mean you should specifically go to a webhosting company that "touts" that they host nonprofits.
Our sites, http://www.do1thing.org is hosted at GoDaddy - $5.95 per month with tech service 24/7. Our other site Heart Gallery of New Jersey is hosted with Bluehost for $4.95 per month. Overall Bluehost is fantastic and I would recommend them to everyone.
I also run a nonprofit Design for Social Good is a design and development company leveraging creative media and Web 2.0 technologies for social GOOD. Using innovative design solutions to highlight critical social dillemas, we take a fresh approach to solving old problems. That being said, don't just go to a designer or developer who "specializes" in designing for nonprofit.
As a designer, it's imperative that you go with a company who a:understands your cause and can articulate it through design of a website site b: understands social networking and how to get your name out there and c: go with a company that designs in wordpress or drupal for a content management system. I'm not a big fan of Joomla even though it's open source and there are a lot of developers coding for it. I don't think it's as secure as wordpress or drupal and you have to pay for many of the plugins.
I've got an mfa in design and technology from Parsons, the New School for Design so if anyone has website design questions I'm happy to give my 2 cents.
Great article, and one I'll point prospective clients to.
I'm glad to see SEO listed as a deliverable requiring early planning! I was the project lead and content editor for the Grassroots.org SEO guide mentioned in the article :) I'd add that it may be beneficial to consider SEO within the context of an internet marketing strategy; while SEO is frequently critical, it's rarely the only internet marketing strategy implemented on a successful project, and it can be somewhat directionless if you attempt to define an SEO plan without a better idea of the overall goals for your web presence.
The one major criticism I'd make here is that the article doesn't mention pricing(!) Anyone who has managed a nonprofit website project can attest that these are frequently high-pressure projects, with an ever-growing list of must-have items and a lilliputian budget at best. I'd recommend a quick overview of the "iron triangle" of software development; the idea that the quality of the finished project is strictly determined within the context of the project's scope, available budget, and required timeline.
As a project manager, some mention of the related perspective that an increase in scope (project requirements) will almost invariably require an increase in timeline, budget, or both to maintain acceptable quality standards would be much appreciated :) Scope creep tends to create frustrated consultants and unhappy nonprofit budget managers if there isn't a mechanism in place to handle it gracefully, with clear and reasonable expectations on both sides.
Co-founder | Project Manager
Nonprofitable.org(262) 2DR-UPAL(262) 237-8725
Although the article does mention badges and buttons, it doesn't cover widgets (perhaps because it was written a couple of years ago). I'd suggest looking into one called &you: its a free widget that lets
individuals and charities share information on causes across the web and different social platforms. You can get it
Even if it was published more than two years ago, this article is still equally relevant and applicable to websites today. The principles and best practices have not changed.
To quote a key point in the article (from step 1 in the web design process):
"How will your target audience find the new site? A beautiful, functional
design doesn't help your constituents if it isn't findable. You can
address the findability issue through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
techniques, as well as other forms of online and offline marketing. Be
sure to address SEO and marketing early on in the design process."
I can't emphasize enough the importance of the above points in terms having a successful website.
A visually attractive site will provide an enjoyable experience for your visitors, and this is something you should certainly aim to achieve. But it's important to understand that your "beautiful" site alone will not amount to very much if your efforts just stop there.
Outer beauty, in the absence of real internal substance, never lasts. But inner beauty lasts -- just like in real life.
A website that offers real substance in the form of quality content achieves inner beauty on the Web. That's why your site must include a commitment to ongoing content development and search optimization efforts. So even if you have nothing more to offer than a very basic site layout without any fancy bells and whistles, if you focus on providing visitors with exceptional content that you know is useful to them, then you'll be well on your way to success. Why? Because publishing quality content on your site, in a way that is both user-friendly and search engine-friendly, will allow search engines to find you. And this, in turn, will allow people to find your site and enjoy spending time reading your information.
It's important to have a content team in place or at least one person who is capable of writing effectively for the Web. You don't need to be a professional copywriter by any means. But what you do need is to know how to present information to your target audience. Content should be delivered in a way that generates interest and results in people taking desired actions on your site.
There's tons of good resources freely available online that provide you with tips and best practices on writing effectively for the Web. A great starting point is running a Google search for the terms "writing for the Web" (without the quotes). And on the topic of SEO for your website, here's a good (3-part) guide:
Beginner's Guide To SEO: Best Practices (Part 1)Beginner's Guide To SEO: Best Practices (Part 2)Beginner's Guide To SEO: Best Practices (Part 3)
Yann Toledano, Digital Marketing Strategist
Host, Web Building Forum, TechSoup.org