Tag Archives: design

How your website is like a camper: a simple explanation of some confusing terms

I’ve given a detailed explanation of web hosting, domain registration and such elsewhere. Here, I’d like to provide a simple word picture that might help make it simpler to understand.

Imagine that your website is a camper. It’s like a camper because it’s got contents, it has a style, it can be moved from one place to another, and it needs somewhere to park. Let’s also suppose that you’ve given your camper a name: Roadrunner.

The name is like your web address, also called a domain or URL. (See the aforementioned article for more a more detailed explanation. We’re keeping things simple here.) So when someone walks up to your camper, or arrives at your website, they know it’s yours because they recognize the name.

your website is like a camper

(I haven’t created  a graphic for it, but you could also change the name of your website/camper, everything else remains – it’s still your property.)

Maybe you start out with your camper in Monument Valley. But after a while, you get tired of the heat, so you decide to head to the Redwood Forest.

website is like a camper

Same camper, new location.

In the same way, a website can be moved from one host to another. If you get frustrated with some aspect of one host — say, their customer service leaves something to be desired — you can move your website elsewhere.

Now, let’s say you get tired of the yellow color scheme and the font on your sign, so you decide to change things up a bit.

same camper, new color; same website, new theme

This is like changing the theme, fonts, color scheme, or other design elements on your website. It still has the same contents, the same name, and the same location, just different styling.

WordPress sites make it pretty easy to make small design tweaks. Depending on the theme you’re using, you may only be able to change a few things, or you may be able to make significant changes. Look under “Appearances” in the navigation on the lefthand side of your WordPress back end to see what options are available.

If you want some changes that are more complicated than you can do — or you’d just like some friendly coaching while you learn — I know someone who can help!  😉

Contact me.

Request a price list.

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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?

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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