In our previous post, we shared some tips on how to know when to redesign a nonprofit website. But what if your nonprofit doesn’t have a website yet, or you decide it’s best to start from scratch and create a website from scratch? Building a completely new website is a daunting undertaking, especially for a nonprofit that is likely already lacking resources. Here are a few things to keep in mind and tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
Decide how you will build a website
A good starting point is to find out exactly how you want the website to be structured. There are several ways to build websites and these different methods are good to know, including:
- Use a website builder, like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace. These website builders allow you to build a website without having to manually edit the code. With them, you can easily create beautiful websites for a reasonable price without hiring a web designer.
- Design based on a template. Many website builders have a number of pre-built templates that you can use to find the look and structure you want, and populate it with your organization’s information. See also: Nonprofit Website Structures and Design Guidelines.
- Hire a web developer. This option is much more practical, and a good web developer will take the time to really understand your company’s vision and bring it to life. Additionally, a good web designer is able to create a website that is unique to your business and that can help set it apart.
Decide what is the cheapest
Once you understand the different ways your business website can be built from scratch, the discussion will likely focus on which option is the most cost effective. Many people will instinctively think that using a website builder is much cheaper as they often require a low monthly cost. For example, Squarespace currently charges $ 18 per month when billed annually. However, there are many hidden costs that can be incurred in using a website builder, especially the cost of the time it takes staff to create the website and make any changes it needs. Before using a website builder, it is important to take some time to really figure out what these hidden costs could be.
Additionally, you should consider what the potential cost of Not hiring a web developer could be. While hiring a web developer is certainly a higher initial investment, hiring someone who takes the time to understand your needs and goals and creates a unique, compelling website can really bring in the money spent. It often turns out to be an investment that pays off in the long run as the website serves as a strong contributor to the company, attracting visitors and stimulating action. This can be more difficult to achieve when hiring people who already have a lot on their plate to create the website.
Understand the steps of the process
Whether you choose a website builder or hire a web developer, there are some general steps that all nonprofits should involve in the process of building a website from the ground up, including:
- Preliminary talks, where the team gathers to discuss high-level issues such as: B. Who you want to reach with the website and what action you want to take. This will also be the time to decide whether to build the website yourself or hire a developer. This is the discovery phase (we call it project roadmapping) of the branding, design and development process and methodology.
- Content planning. In web redesigns, this phase often involves making an inventory of existing content, but if you are building a website from scratch, all of the content may need to be created from scratch as well. Creating the copy for all web pages, as well as the content for additional resources like blog posts, reports, and more, takes a lot of planning. Learn more about a Content Marketing Audit.
- Development. At this stage of the process, the website is actually created and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Learn more about Web development services.
- Testing. This phase is extremely important as it includes various tests to ensure that the website is working properly, including checking functionality, overall user experience, and security.
- Introduction and continuous promotion and development. The launch of the website is a great opportunity to really promote the organization, but the promotion and development efforts shouldn’t stop there. Be sure to continuously monitor the website to make sure it is running smoothly and meeting the needs of the organization. Learn more about the process of continuous improvement.
Building a nonprofit website from scratch can be a daunting process, but having a website that clearly expresses the organization’s mission and engages visitors to action is absolutely crucial. A thoughtful investment of time, effort, and a little money is probably one of the best investments your nonprofit will make.