You are a savvy nonprofit leader. You are well aware that your website needed to be mobile-ready two months ago. You know full well that many of your supporters, advocates, and service recipients expect certain things from your website. You understand that an integrated digital strategy with a strong website at the center can help your organization achieve its goals.
What you are unsure of is, — as you survey your limited budget for next year and talented but overworked staff — how to get it all done. Not to worry, if you assemble the right team and lead them through some simple steps, the process will be a rewarding, pleasant experience.
Where to start
The best place to start is with a strategic plan. Hopefully, your organization has gone through a strategic planning process and has a plan in place. If this is not you, be sure to identify some clear goals for the website that will help the organization succeed. Please note that “more website traffic” is not a goal that helps anybody. “More people inquiring about our services on our website” is the start of a goal. Or “a 20% increase in paid subscriptions over the next three months.” Or “online donations go up over last year’s by 15%.”
Knowing what you need done is the first step to having a website that does things. Being clear about what you need makes handing the process over to someone that much easier. Too many organizations jump into building a new website or refreshing the old one without doing this thinking. This results in websites that are off the mark or a long, complicated process where organizations use a website build to do their strategic planning and core message work.
Who to gather
Let’s assume for the moment that you have a good clear set of goals, a decent understanding of your target audience, and a solid core-messaging platform. What you’ll need are the following roles. For small organizations, this might be one person, for large organizations, it might include whole teams.
- Project Leader: This is the person who spearheads the project, convenes the meetings, insures that deadlines and budgets are met. This person should be well-organized and methodical but be able to see and help craft the big picture.
- Content Creators: Even if your website consists only of images with a little bit of text, or you have pre-existing organizational content, you need more content. You will need fresh content next week. And the week after. And the following week.
- Designer: With today’s tools, it is easy to build a website that looks relatively good without paying a designer. However, paying a (or using an in-house) professional designer to define a color palette, provide custom graphics and review layout and font choices is completely worth it.
- Technical: Again, platforms like WordPress and Squarespace make building basic websites ridiculously easy. However, setting up or reviewing hosting options, customizing CSS or html, and integrating third-party platforms (such as e-commerce, forms, or video) can be tricky. Be sure to bring someone on board who can handle these things.
I’m tempted to say the whole process is easy as 1,2,3, but we all know creative processes are rarely linear and never completely simple. However, if you take these three steps, it will get you most of the way there.
- Set goals: As I mentioned above, it is imperative that you know what you want your website to do before you start work.
- Gather resources: In addition to building the above team, try to get all the things together that will be helpful: written text, images, video, branding guidelines, log-in info for third-party apps like Mailchimp or Hubspot. Part of this process should include a content audit of the existing website and social media platforms to see what can be used and what should be tossed.
- Plan: Look to the end product and plan backward. Be generous in time and/or budget. Where you are lacking in one, be sure to pad the other. So, if you have a small budget and can only allocate limited staff hours, understand you may be looking at a long process to get to where you want to go. Conversely, if you are pressed for time, know that you will want to allocate more money for the project.
This was meant to be a basic primer. But if you need more help, let us know. RTF Consulting knows where to start and can help you gather the right team.[this blog post originally appeared on the Digaboom.com blog]