Category Archives: Improve your website

9 things to make sure your nonprofit website includes

non-profit website

Smashing Magazine recently posted a useful article titled, “Non Profit Website Design: Examples and Best Practices” which contains a lot of great info. I’ve done quite a few websites for non profits, and I would quibble slightly with their order of importance for these best practices.

I would also add up front: Make Your Site User Friendly and Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly. But these should just go without saying for any and every website. Integrated With Social Media is also important for most non profits, to varying degrees.

What follows is my edit of the original article: most of the material is theirs (mine is added in [square brackets]), and their ranking order is in (parentheses).

1. (7.) Know Your Site’s Purpose Up Front

The leaders of your organization (or whoever is in charge of the organization’s website) should make a list of what the goals for the site are before starting the design process. Whatever your purpose is, knowing it and communicating it to your designer [before] going into the design process will save headaches and delays down the road.

2. (5.) Make Sure Your Content Takes Center Stage

Take into account the types of information you’ll be providing on the site and the formats that will be used. Make sure your columns are wide enough to accommodate YouTube videos, for example. [Strategic content is a great way to “show, don’t tell” about your organization’s mission, team, and personality.]

3. (8.) Include a News Section or Blog

First, it gives people a reason to come back to your site.

Second, blogs and news sites are often quoted by other blogs and news sites. This increases the exposure for your site and will likely bring you more traffic.

Third, constantly-updated content increases your search engine visibility.

4. (not included) Make Your Site Client-Friendly

[If your organization is about helping people and if your site will be used to attract “clients,” your home page and supporting pages should include language that speaks directly to potential clients, and does so in a respectful way.]

5. (2.) Make Your Site Media-Friendly

Make it easy for journalists to find information about your organization. Offer downloadable images from your site so journalists and bloggers don’t have to contact your and wait for a response. And include press-ready quotes, both from members and directors as well as outsiders.

6 & 7 (1. & 3.) [Depending on whether donations or volunteers are more critical to the success of your mission.]

donor-friendlyMake Your Site Donor-Friendly

First, make sure your donation page is prominently linked from your home page.

Second, make the actual donation process as painless as possible.

volunteer-friendlyMake Your Site Volunteer-Friendly

Make it easy for visitors to your site to find information on how they can get involved. Include an email address, phone number, and a web contact form if you can.

8. (6.) Make Sure Your Website is Consistent with Your Other Promotional Materials

Your website doesn’t have to match your print promotional materials exactly, but echoing the look and feel of those materials increases brand identity.

9. (4.) Make Sure Your Organization’s Purpose is Immediately Apparent

Putting an abbreviated mission statement right on the home page is one way to solve this. Another way is to put a prominent link somewhere on the home page that takes visitors to an about page that offers concise, plain-language (not “marketing-ese”) information about what the organization does. [I only made this one last because I’m working on the assumption that most people who visit your website will already have some basic knowledge of who you are and what you do. If that isn’t the case, then I would rank this item second or third.]

Can I help you with any of these?


I also edited the article down to make for a quicker read. Want more info? Read the original article.

photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc


Words you should never use to describe yourself


Picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” she asks.

“I’m an architect,” you say.

“Oh, really?” she answers. “Have you designed any buildings I’ve seen?”

“Possibly,” you reply. “We did the new student center at the university…”

“Oh wow,” she says. “That’s a beautiful building…”

Without trying — without blowing your own horn — you’ve made a great impression.

Now picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” he asks.

“I’m a passionate, innovative, dynamic provider of architectural services with a collaborative approach to creating and delivering outstanding world-class client and user experiences.”

All righty then.

Do you describe yourself differently – on your website, promotional materials, or especially on social media – than you do in person? Do you use cheesy clichés and overblown superlatives and breathless adjectives?…

Here are some words that are great when other people use them to describe you – but you should never use to describe yourself.

— Excerpt from a post by Jeff Haden, titled “Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself.” Funny — and on-the-nose!

photo credit: chotda via photopin cc

Find free images to use on your blog

Sure, you can use Google Images, but those aren’t always copyright free — and you should use only copyright free images or images for which you’ve purchased copyrights.

You may already know about low-cost options like iStock and StockFresh. But here are a few good sources for images that are both copyright free and cost free:

owl eyes from Photo Pin

Photo Pin – Good quality images, for the most part; the search results can be a little wonky, though. (The image above is from Photo Pin. Photo credit: Hamed Saber via photo pin cc )

Morguefile – The search works fairly well, but the image quality is very uneven. There’s a lot of bad stuff (bad composition, terrible lighting, no creativity, etc.), but there’s also the occasional gem.

Wikimedia Commons – This collection leans heavily toward historical, technical and scientific collections. For example, you can find drawings by Van Goghmaps of cities, or anatomical plates of the human body. (Art nerd heaven!)

Here’s a post listing four other sites (in addition to Photo Pin) that are good sources for free image.

WordPress can do it!

10 — nay, 17 — nifty things you can do in WordPress

As I’ve been learning WordPress, I’ve begun amassing a collection of how-to’s. I just created a new page where I’ll be posting those, for my future reference — and yours! I’ve got 10 11 17 things posted so far; I’m sure there will be more to come. Check it out!

Smart phone sales surpass desktop sales ahead of schedule

The internet world shifted on its axis last year. Did you feel it?

In early 2011, some pundits were estimating that smart phone sales would outstrip desktop PC sales by 2014:

mobile use chart 2011
This chart was released in April 2011.

Before the end of the year, they were proven wrong. Or at least, too far sighted.

In February of 2012, international technology analyst Canalis reported that smart phone sales had surpassed desktop sales in the last quarter of 2011. A couple other interesting stats:

mobile use chart 2012
This infographic published July 9, 2012.

What does that mean for your website? It had better be mobile ready.

How can you tell, even if you don’t have a smartphone or iPad? Minimize your browser window; grab it on the right edge and squish it down to about the width of a notepad or smartphone. Is the navigation still visible? Do the major elements rearrange themselves to fit the resized window? If so, good news! Your website is “responsive” — i.e., mobile-friendly.

If not, you’re stuck in 2010.

Need help? Check out my reviews of free responsive WordPress templates, and premium ones. Better yet, contact me!


2011 infographic via Digital Buzz.

2012 infographic via Digital Buzz.

Report announcing smart phones overtake PC’s in 2011, via Canalys.

photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc