Tech Assessment: Websites for Nonprofits Training Re-Cap
Our third and final hands-on workshop for the Tech Assessment Cohort took place last week. Eight participants, representing various local nonprofits, took part in our workshop on website development, content management systems and basic design elements. Click through for the full re-cap...
Eight participants from the tech assessment program came to the NPower Northwest training lab for the third and final hands-on workshop focusing on website development, content management systems, and basic design elements. The training covered:
- Overview of how websites work
- WordPress CMS
- Google Sites
- Best practices for nonprofit websites
Elissa and Stephen help the class with their web creations
What are some important elements of nonprofit websites?
Determining basic website design best practices has a lot to do with taking on the mentality of a new visitor to your website. At this point, many of us have experience as website visitors, however we can become jaded to how our own org’s website appears to fresh eyes. What would they look for? What will help them find the info you want them to see and what will turn them away? Here are some foundational design best practices to help visitors find the content they need:
- Simple, accessible design that includes easy page navigation
- Action links displayed prominently on the home page (Donate, Volunteer, Subscribe, etc)
- Nonprofit mission is easily visible AND understandable.
- Contact us page with physical address, phone, email, social networking profiles, etc. (Including photos of staff can help lend a human feel to your org)
An important reminder: Use a tool, such as Google Analytics, that tracks visitor statistics so that you can have metrics to give feedback on your organization’s online engagement goals.
Tools We Recommend For Small Nonprofits
There are a substantial number of web content management systems available to individuals and organizations. We selected WordPress and Google Sites to showcase to the nonprofits in our tech assessment program because of ease of use and implementation. Both tools have a very gentle learning curve and don’t require a lot of other software in order to create live websites. A nonprofit with a WordPress account only needs access to a web server (In case you hadn’t heard, DreamHost, a popular hosting platform, offers free hosting plans to nonprofits). Google Sites requires no external server, as the websites created through this software is hosted directly on Google’s extensive server network.
A good example of a nonprofit site built in WordPress from our Tech Assessment member, Helping Link.
WordPress is an ideal platform for an organization that regularly posts news items and other content. The basic interface is easy to use and powerful, with a large directory of plugins available for more advanced customization. Built with open source software that uses PHP and MySQL, WordPress is used by many web developers, so it is likely that volunteers can be found to create or further develop nonprofit websites.
Google Sites, on the other hand, is more suited for an organizational website that does not need to be updated frequently. The interface is familiar for anyone who is used to using the Google Apps suite, and a major strength is the ease at which objects can be added to web pages: images, YouTube videos, maps, calendars, blogs, documents, and so on.
We did hands-on exercises with mock accounts so that everyone could get real experience creating pages and posts in WordPress and websites using Google Sites. The results weren’t so perfect, but demonstrated that everyone was learning.
If you missed the Websites for Nonprofits training, or would like additional information, here are some relevant training seminars we’ll be hosting in the near future:
- July 11 - Google Analytics Brown Bag
- July 18 - Search Engine Optimization (briefly covering Google Webmaster tools)
If you’re looking for the slides from Monday’s presentation, head over to our Knowledge Center.
- Elissa Thomas and Abby Nafziger