Even a small website helps you present your organization and its issues so users can easily find and share information. The right software can make it simple to add a blog, videos or photos, contact form or publications that can be downloaded. Websites can be integrated with social media to display the latest posts from your Twitter or news feeds, or through “share buttons” let users share content to Facebook, Pinterest, WhatsApp and other applications.
Planning is key
The first and most important step is knowing what you want – who your audience is, purpose of the site, features you need and resources you have available (content, funds, people and time). Find a few sites of other community or nonprofit organizations that have the look, features and structure that would work well for yours. And let available guides with checklists help you work through the stages from goals to design, putting the website online and maintenance decisions.
- “Websites” 2015 Apr. Connect Monthly (NTEN) (Planning good websites on small budgets)
- Idealware. 2014 Nov. “Implementing a New Website: Planning Your Approach” (Free guide, with worksheets on the necessary steps and roles, who does what and when)
Building & managing the site
The software selected should provide a content management system (CMS) so users with even limited technical skills can add, change and post content easily; include themes (or templates) that work well on both desktop or mobile devices; build in accessibility; be “future proof”; and have good training documentation and support.
To quickly build and easily maintain a low-cost, basic website, several providers offer free do-it-yourself web building and free web hosting options. Popular choices include the open-source WordPress.com (WP) and drag and drop style website builders Weebly, Wix, with Doodle-Kit a lesser-known option.
These help you create pages, add a blog and multimedia, with online training resources, while taking care of website security and basic software updating. All offer upgrades for a price.
The greater flexibility, control and functionality options offered by another free WP version – WordPress.org – have made it the most popular content management system, now powering one in four websites worldwide. It does however require you to find a webhost to house the site, get a domain name (URL) to point visitors to it, and handle security and backup. Which WordPress is best for you?
- Idealware. Topic: “Websites”
- Faber, Jason. 2016 Jul. “Website tips for nonprofits” (Techsoup Canada)
- EasyWPguide.com. 2015 Dec. “WordPress Manual”
- WebsiteToolTester.com. “Website builder reviews: comparison chart for 2016”
- University of Washington. 2016. “Developing accessible websites”
But if DIY is not for you, look for a web designer familiar with the needs of small-budget advocacy groups or non-profits. Ask colleagues for referrals, contact designers of websites you like.
Some website examples
No “half-measures” : workers’ compensation 100 years after Meredith” (WordPress.com)
Workers Action Centre (WordPress.org)
Council of Canadians – Toronto (Weebly)
Wings of Victory Outreach (Doodlekit)