Webinar – A Cooperative Approach to Web Design – 2011-10-27

Webinar – A Cooperative Approach to Web Design – 2011-10-27

Hello everybody. Welcome to A
Cooperative Approach to Web Design. With us today is Elliot Harmon from TechSoup
Global. As a staff writer at TechSoup, Elliot writes content to educate nonprofits and
public libraries on effective use of technology. He has degrees from the University of South
Dakota and California College of the Arts. And also with us today is Jim Walker from
Big Car. Jim is founder and Executive Director of Big Car a nonprofit community creativity
organization based in Indianapolis. Walker, a former newspaper journalist also
works as a public artist, photographer, and writer. In 2010, Walker led Big Car’s
Made for Each Other Community Arts Series, reaching 8 neighborhoods with a variety of
projects that engaged adults and children in creative activities designed
to help their communities. Walker is also a member of the
Indianapolis Cluster of CEOs for Cities, a national project focused on
helping American urban centers. One of his passions is innovating great
ways to help cities through creativity. And also with us on chat today is
William Coonan, also from TechSoup Global. And I am Kyla Hunt your
facilitator for today. So really quick, today we are going to
talk a little bit about who TechSoup is and do something thanks yous for
people who made this webinar possible. Then Elliot is going to
go into Web design basics, followed by Jim Walker’s presentation on
his organization’s website, BigCar.org. And then at the end of this presentation we
will be taking some questions from the audience. Throughout the presentation please submit
those questions in the question’s pane. We will be taking a look at those and we
will be reading them audibly at the end of the presentation. We will try to
get to as many questions as possible, but if for some reason we do not get
to any you can e-mail the presenters or you can submit those
questions to the community forum. So really quick, a little
bit about who TechSoup is. TechSoup is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
organization. As of June 2010, TechSoup served more than
127,000 organizations, distributed more than 6.3
million technology donations, and enabled nonprofit recipients to save
more than $1.8 billion in IT expenses in 33 countries around the world. TechSoup is part of TechSoup Global which is
working towards the day when every nonprofit, library, and social benefit organization
on the planet has the technology, knowledge, and resources they need to
operate at their full potential. I do want to take a moment to thank
a few organizations and individuals that made this webinar possible.
First up is the Pepsi Refresh Project. For little bit more information about
what the Pepsi Refresh Project is, I took this quote from their website. “You have an idea to refresh your community.
You invite people to get behind your idea and vote for it. If your idea is approved,
Pepsi will help you make it happen with funding from a Pepsi
Refresh Project grant.” I do want to mention that voting for excepted
submissions will begin again on November 1, at 12:00 PM Eastern standard time
and will conclude on November 30. This reflects a 30 day extension of voting
to allow the millions of people impacted by hurricane Irene ample time to coordinate
their entries. And for more information please visit www.refresheverything.com. I do want to mention that Jim,
one of our presenters today is a Pepsi Refresh Project grantee. I also want to thank
Derian Rodriguez Heyman who allowed us to use the same title of
this webinar that was a title of a chapter in Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and
Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals. We will be sending out this short link
to the Amazon listing for this book. And with that I am going to go ahead and
get Elliot started, but before we do that I do want to take a couple of
polls. So let’s go ahead and do that. The first one will be how
would you describe yourself? And so go ahead and select whichever you
think you would describe yourself best as. Again, the options are; Executive Director
or Management, IT Staff, Accidental Techie, Volunteer/Board Member. And I’m going to be closing the poll in
just a couple of seconds; 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And I’m not sure if you can
all see this, but it looks like the Accidental Techie’s have 31% of
our participants. ED/Management has 26%. Volunteer/Board Members is
22%, and IT Staff reflects 21%. So that is a pretty evenly distributed
audience that we have today. And really quick I do want
to take one other poll. And this is going to ask when was the
last time you redesigned your website? And just to read what the options
are, the first is before 2000. The second, 2000 to 2005, the third 2005
to 2010, and the last within the past year. And as the results are coming in, it looks
like 2005 to 2010 and within the past year are blowing the rest of the
contestants out of the water here. I’m going to close the poll in
just a second; 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let’s see if I can share this. You
should be able to see the results now. Before 2000 has 5%, 2000 to 2005
has 18%, 2005 to 2010 has 46%, and within the past year has 32%. So
like I said, the majority of participants, their organizations website has been
updated within at least the past 6 years. Alright, and with that I do want to give control
over to Elliot. So I’m going to give him the floor. And Elliot I am going to mute
myself so you can un-mute yourself. Elliot: Okay, thanks a lot Kyla, and
thanks a lot to everybody for joining here. Kyla mentioned that the Nonprofit Management
101 book which I contributed the chapter to on Web design. And what I’m going to be
talking about here pretty closely follows that chapter, but of course there’s
a lot more information in the chapter. Okay, what we will be talking about briefly
is one, what is your websites purpose? Two, setting and measuring goals for
achieving that purpose for the website. Three is conceptualizing your website which I
will explain what that means when we get there. But basically I think of conceptualizing
your website as everything that you do before you actually get around to
making the website on your computer. And finally we are going to be talking a
little bit about content management systems. This is a lot of ground to cover and I want
to be sure that Jim has ample time afterward to talk about Big Car. So we are going
to go through this relatively quickly, but fortunately there are going
to be questions at the end. And fortunately we are going to be pointing
you to a lot of additional resources. So be patient as we speed through this
and we will try to get to your questions. Okay, what is your website’s purpose?
I take a really simplistic approach to thinking about what your website’s purpose
is, which is really that it comes down to the audience and the desired outcome,
what it is that you want your audience to do when they visit that website. And ideally, all of this should be tied to
your broader organizational goals and strategy. I think there was a time not too long ago when
most organizations thought of their website more or less as kind of a flyer for the
organization that existed on the Internet instead of existing on paper. But now we
are really moving to a time when websites can and should be much more closely
aligned with your programmatic goals, and with the metrics that you use for
measuring the effectiveness of your programs. Okay, so who is the intended audience?
Potential donors, current donors, volunteers, evangelists, customers or beneficiaries,
people who are actually going to use the organization’s services. Of course for
just about any organization the temptation is to answer everyone. My kind of half
joking response to that is, well you know, most nonprofits websites aren’t
actually very appealing to anyone. So making one that is appealing to
everyone is going to be a tall order. My slightly more serious response
to that is to say that yes, every nonprofit has a complicated
mix of different audiences. Still, the process of actually
profiling those audiences and thinking about what each of
those audiences is really looking for when they go to your organization’s website,
and prioritizing those to a certain extent, that process is going to inform
the design process infinitely. Now that you’ve talked about who
the audience of the website is, the next step is okay, what do you want those
visitors to do when they get to your site? And I put some examples
there. Make a donation, though that is a kind of problematic
one which we will talk about in a minute. Sign up for a newsletter. Sign up for
this service. Send this to a friend. Really, what I see as kind of a key thing
about these is that they are all things that you can actually measure.
I’d say nearly every nonprofit, our purpose among other
things is to spread awareness. Though just purely spreading awareness is
something that is not very easy to measure. So think of these — oh, the
technical term for these is conversions. You might hear me use the
word conversions a few times. That just means what you want the audience
to do. Think of those as indicators that that awareness or that
message has been spread, and then you can optimize the
website to get the most out of those. When talking about purpose of websites,
and talking about how you measure those conversions, I often find myself talking
about two interesting commercial websites. One of those is Mighty Putty
and the other one is Apple. If you are not familiar with Mighty
Putty, its a sort of white putty glue that comes in a little tube and is advertised on
television. If you are not familiar with Apple, it is a sort of white shiny computer
that comes in a cardboard box and is advertised on television
during the more popular shows. When you look at both of these
websites, they were ultimately created with the same purpose in mind. Both of
these websites were created above all else, to sell a product. And in both of these
websites the moment you look at the homepage, it is exceedingly obvious
what the product being sold is. There is however, a major difference in
design philosophy between these 2 websites. And that is really what you see here. There
is literally only one page at mightyputty.com, and that page is the order form. The
website was really designed with the idea that you are going to be making a
purchase, or not making a purchase within about 5 minutes
of visiting the website. The Apple site on the other hand is very
different. There is no order form here. In fact if you are bored sometime,
try just going to Apple.com and clicking on whatever the featured
product is. And see how long it takes you to get to anywhere where you are entering your
credit card info. I tried this the other day. Right now the featured product
on there is the new iPhone, and it took me about 19 clicks before
I got to anywhere that I would actually be putting in credit card information.
So the difference between these 2 websites is not in what the ultimate goal
is, but it is in the amount of work and the amount of intermediary steps
that come before that eventual goal. Here is the funny thing, and this is kind of
one of the main things that I want to underscore. I think most of us would look at these 2 brands
and say well, Apple is the cooler hipper brand. That is unattainable. My nonprofit
can’t try to be an Apple. In reality, most nonprofits that try to be Might Puttys
fail, or at least fail in that respect. When I look at many, many nonprofit websites,
I see them kind of built with the idea that I would want to make a donation within
5 minutes of learning about a nonprofit. And that is not true for most of us. So
I would encourage you to think instead about using the website as a place
for longer-term relationship building, developing trust with the audience that can
lead to donations or any number of other things. In other words, try to be an Apple,
because you probably aren’t going to have the perfect 30 second sales
pitch of a Mighty Putty. To look at this another way, think about
when a guest comes to visit your organization. This guest might be a potential
donor or a potential volunteer. Maybe it is somebody from a
foundation. Whoever it is it is somebody you want to get on your nonprofit’s side.
Think about what you would do with that person the day she visited. Think about the
people you would introduce her to. Think about the stories that you would tell her.
Think about the things that you would show her. All of which would go into
building that relationshi which may or may not eventually
lead to the conversion. Wouldn’t it be a disappointing visit if she showed
up and all she saw were this big donation box? But this is more or less
what a lot of nonprofits are. They are a big donation box and there is not
much other opportunity for relationship building. There is a person who is sort of a
political strategist name Anne Keenan who wrote this pretty great
piece about this problem. She was describing an experience that she had
right after she’d signed up for a mailing list. And she wrote, “The minute I hit
submit, a giant donate button appeared. Whoa — all of a sudden we’d skipped from
flirting to something a little more intimate, and I felt icky and strangely violated.” And I
think that is an experience that we have all had in both the for-profit and
nonprofit sector. So don’t be icky. Now that we’ve talked about kind of big
picture what the purpose of the website is, the next step is kind of talking about okay, how
can you turn that around into measurable goals? I put here, set pacific measurable goals.
Visitors should sign up for our e-mail newsletter. That’s a good goal. A better gold might
be 10% of referrals from XYZ campaign should sign up for our e-mail newsletter.
The difference between those 2 goals is that one of them is measurable. After the
campaign is over we can look at the results and we can say, this succeeded at
this goal or this failed at this goal. So here are the things we
will try for the next campaign. A goal without that specificity
attached to it is very difficult to say whether you have succeeded or failed,
or to say what you might try to change in the future to meet the goal better. Once you have established that goal, I see the
next step as building the website around it. To use the example of the newsletter
sign up again, every piece of content beit a profile of somebody in the
community, beit some kind of testimonial about what your organization does, is
there a way that every piece of that content can tie back to that conversion
of signing up for the newsletter? Sometimes in Web design people
talk about the 1 click rule, which means literally that a visitor
should never be more than one click away from whatever that conversion is. Because
each time, each additional step that you add to a process, you are going to
lose some people. Now like any rule, this is a rule that can be broken, but think
about it first and break it intelligently. The next step is actually now that
you’ve talked about that audience, and what that audience is supposed
to do when they get to the site, it’s to kind of turn that into really more
specific profiles of who that audience is and what they would do when they interact with
the site. User stories are kind of a good way of thinking about this. They are sketches of
how and why users will interact with the site. And they are ideally based on
interviews and actual intelligence you have on that
audience and stakeholders. Here are some examples of those. Adam
learns about our nonprofit by word of mouth and finds our site through a Google
search. He reads the story of our nonprofit, watches a testimonial video, and signs up
for the email list. Bonnie visits our site to respond to a fundraising letter. She chooses
from 3 donation levels and makes a donation. Carl notices an interruption
in services. He visits the site and immediately finds an updated
service schedule and contact information. All of these are specific
based on different audience, from the audiences that we talked about
earlier. And they are also measureable. You as the site administrator will be
able to look and see whether the users that match these profiles actually
got what they were looking for or not. Once you kind of have those user
stories, you can start to build that into an information architecture which is
a simple outline of what content will appear on the website and how it will be
arranged. For the chapter in the book I made a really simple example
of an information architecture. But in fact, yours might not be
much more complicated than this. We have 5 headings About Us, Events
and Services, News, Contact Us, Donate with some subheads
under each of those headings. And key questions to talk about
with your team at this point are, does the information architecture
reflect the most important user stories? And in a way this really does come down to
prioritizing. Like we talked about earlier, we do have multiple audiences. And
there is going to need to be a discussion about prioritizing which transactions
are going to be the easiest or most immediately
findable on the site. Will new content or sections
need to be added in the future? Who will create the
content for each section? Being a writer I am a big fan
of content, and content strategy. And these are not questions that
should wait until the last minute. Now that you have the information architecture,
the next step is sort of a wire frame, a visual representation of
the elements of the website. This can be a Microsoft Word
document, an illustrator graphic. This sample one here I just made it
in Photoshop. Or even a pencil drawing. And in fact, I will say that some of the
most gifted designers I’ve ever met do lots and lots of sketching out on paper
before they ever touch a computer. Now if you are say working with
a contractor on your website and you show them your user stories, your
information architecture, your wire frame, the things they might come back and suggest
to you might look very, very different from the wire frame. So it is not
exactly a literal recipe for the website. It is more of a visual aid for
talking about with the stakeholders, talking about whether this meets
the needs as you’ve laid them out, whether this meets the
priorities of your organization. So it is really more of a visual aid than an
actual step-by-step recipe for the website. Which brings us to
content management systems. If that’s a phrase that you haven’t heard
before, you might have also heard web CMS, or just CMS. Those are more
or less interchangeable. And that is a program installed on the
web server that manages the website. And what’s really kind of interesting about
CMSes is that they sort of enforce a unified look and feel and design
across the entire website. If you decide for example that you are
changing your logo and you want to change the color scheme of the website to match
the logo, then you don’t need to go through and change each page with
a content management system. The CMS enforces that consistent
design across the entire website. And most of them have a lot of other goodies
built into them too, things like blogs, forums, e-commerce modules possibly, all of which will
fit that same look and feel of your website. With most CMSes and definitely any
CMS I would suggest you look at, a nonspecialist can keep the website content
up to date. That means you or somebody else on your team who is reasonably computer
literate can do 90% of the upkee of the website. Now depending how
ambitious your needs for the website are and depending a little on how willing
you are to get your hands dirty, you may well need somebody to help you with that
initial set up. But the goal really should be that you don’t need some
kind of the fancy specialist or contractor to keep the website
up to date on a regular basis. Here is just to kind of visualize that a
little bit. Here is my very simple sketch of how a CMS works. Up there in the
upper left we have the editing interface. That is what they call a WYSIWYG, or
what you see is what you get interface similar to the one you have in Microsoft
Word. And then the CMS turns that content into the HTML, the actual code that
is then read by the web browser. So that is kind of a graphical idea of
how a content management system works. Now the big four open source CMSes are
Drupal, Joomla, Plone and WordPress. Those are all free and they are all
relatively popular in the nonprofit community. There are consultants who work
primarily or exclusively with nonprofits who work extensively in those four CMSes. And
also because they have a big pool of users, lots of people have built extra
modules and things for them. Our friends at Idealware have put
together really the definitive guide to those four CMSes for nonprofits. I put the
URL for it there. That outlines the pros and cons of each of those, and it also
includes a directory of consultants. So it’s really a great resource
I would encourage you to download. Now all of that is not to
downplay the proprietary CMSes. I wrote there if you use a proprietary
CMS, understand what you are paying for which means that a good
reason to use a proprietary CMS would be that it has
functionality that you need. Perhaps it is using the
Microsoft SharePoint CMS because it is able to
work with your dynamic CRM. Or there are other proprietary CMSes
out there that are specifically made to work with other CRMs
or fundraising databases. Those are good reasons
to use a proprietary CMS, but again understand
what you are paying for. And with that I think I’m at the end of my
segment, so I will pass it back over to Kyla. Kyla: Alright, awesome. Thank you
Elliot. I really appreciate that. So I am going to go ahead and give
the presenter control over to Jim so he can go ahead and get his section
started. Again, keep putting those questions into the question pane. And if
you have any technical problems or you really have any content related
questions, feel free to ask at any time. So Jim I am going to go
ahead and give you control. Okay, looks good to go. Thanks. Jim: Okay, thank you. Okay, so I’m kind
of I guess doing sort of a case study of what a website can be like for a nonprofit.
Big Car is a small nonprofit in Indianapolis. We serve the community here in
different ways through education and art, and a description here you can read. We
formed in 2005. We have four staff people now, but operated for the first several
years with just a couple of people. I was primarily maintaining the website and
updating it with the help of a web designer who helped build the site
originally. And as mentioned, we were a 2011 Pepsi Refresh winner. So I just wanted to highlight some of
the aspects of what we found important when we were thinking about our
site, and what we wanted it to be. For us we really wanted to have our site be a
self-serve site that we could go into and update, and run, and kind of have it be fresh and
keep it going, and not have to worry about calling someone up or emailing someone and
saying, can you change this or fix this. So the CMS that we used right
off the bat was Movable Type. And I think it was an open
source version of Movable Type. I know there is one you can pay for, but
I think we’ve been using the free one. And as you can kind of see here, all of this
code is generated through uploading things. And for the first few years of doing this I didn’t
really understand what I was doing that much, and sort of figured it out and figure out
what the different code things kind of did, and when I messed them up, what they
would do. And that was sort of all done without any kind of training.
The guy just sort of set me u and let me struggle and
fail until I figured it out. So what we update the most with our content
management system is stuff like the schedule. So every day something new comes up,
at least every few days I get in there and update the schedule. It would be the
one that you can see on the left there. And then the main menu part that goes
down the middle of the site is the place where we update with news. A flier
is up so all the latest events and things that are going on are
really clearly indicated there. So what we wanted to really go for when we
got our site started was to make something — and I feel like this is really important
— something that is attractive to people, and also something that fit us. So we
really wanted the design of the site to match our organization and not to be
sort of shoehorned into the template that a designer had. So we came up with some
concepts and worked with a graphic designer to come up with newer versions of
our site as we sort of went along. This was what our site was like when it first
opened, or when it first went up in 2005. Basically where that question mark is —
this is off an archive — there was our logo, and that was the whole thing. So it
was really obviously very minimal, and there wasn’t a lot to it. But we just
wanted to get some information out there. And it didn’t really fit with the sort
of energy that our organization had and all the things that were going on.
But it did divide up into the categories of what we were going to do. And it was sort of
like a wire frame, just sort of sitting on a page. So we had our original About section that
was live, and some of these other things that were here. And our organization
changed drastically from the beginning, and so our website started changing to match
that. So here is sort of a different where we are now with our About, and it definitely
adds a lot more to what we are doing. So the second version of our site was
this one where we brought in more color, added different navigation on the top and
on the left, and started have the things that I could update using Moveable Type
to bring in new things that were going on and keep the freshest news and the things
we wanted to highlight the most there in that spot in the
middle of the main page. And you can see the difference
between that and where we are now. We came back in, it’s still the same basic
structure, but we moved a few things around, added some new buttons on the left,
changed our navigation on the top, and really brightened up the color and
reflected the redesign that we had done for our organization. The website hasn’t been
rebuilt, we just kind of gave it a new skin and a new look, and kept the same functionality
and the same content management system. I’m planning to, we as a group
are working on creating a new site, but for now we are just sort of
working with the one we have here. One of the things we felt was really
important was to keep it personal and to have it have a lot of faces. So these
are just a few of the artists that you can see if you click on the art, the collective
page. And since the beginning of our site we’ve tried to have a lot of faces and a
lot of people to keep it really feeling, to have that human sort of touch to it, because
of the distance the technology kind of creates. So a key to us from the very beginning
was to have our website be flexible, and to be flexible as a group, and
to be able to change our navigation, and adjust from where we started. These are
the 3, only the 3 things we had on the left on our site navigation. And we had a forum
on there that we ended up getting rid of because it didn’t work out very well. Sometimes
we would just add things to change things, drop things from the site, and keep it
evolving along with us as an organization. So these are the ones we added. One
important one was to have a way for people to make donations. We didn’t
have that there before. The same is true with the top navigation.
When we first started as an organization we divided our programming between
writing, art, music, and art shows, and we also offered some public
relations support to other nonprofits. That all changed later on and we sort
of adjusted to reflect our new approach which is really to talk about who
we are with the collective one, and then to show what was going on
in our gallery, what was going on in our community art projects, and to have
a holding place for all the multimedia stuff that we had been doing
to document our projects. And the one consistent one that
stayed was the contact button. So for us, we wanted to keep
the site easy to navigate so people wouldn’t get lost or
feel like they were overwhelmed. And sometimes I think our site now still
has a lot of options, maybe too many. But we try to keep it clean, so when you look
at it you are not overwhelmed with options and the focus brings you into the
main stories that you want to cover. And the most important news and
kind of a hierarchy of things that we wanted to make sure
people stopped and looked at. One thing that I think we found that’s important,
and that we are interested in maintaining in our next site is to have this big button that
is the home button that can always get you back to where you need to go. One of the major changes that happen
for us since we have kind of gone along with our site through the years, is making
it connected to external things like YouTube and just other ways to connect with people. So
right off the bat we had the Big Car list serve that we created for our newsletter. And that was
something that we found to be really important right off the bat when we got started
in 2005. And then we continued to do that and use that as a way to
communicate with people. We also felt like from the very beginning
connecting with other organizations that were our friends and using links as a way
to sort of share and find others who have links on their page, as a way for us to
sort of cross pollinate and connect. And it also helped with friendships
with other organizations, local, and national, and international. Originally, the way that we documented
our shows and put pictures u was just through uploading pictures
into directly onto the page. And so you had to scroll way
down to see every single picture. So it was a pretty awkward way to
look at pictures from our events. Now we use Flickr and we host
all of our photos on Flickr. And we keep up this photo stream slide show
so people can see what the latest photos are that are uploaded on Flickr. Then also we
use other external things like Evoca and Vimeo and YouTube, and Scribd to host our
audio, video, and documents like PDFs. So here is just a bunch of our sets on our
Flickr. And one of the things that we do is not only connecting out to these
places, but we’ll put on the photos, the videos and the documents and
audio links back to the BigCar.org site to kind of get things going both directions.
So when somebody click on a photo, or a set, we try to send them back to our website. Here is another example of how we had our
video clips. And they were just uploaded. You had to upload these video files which
is a real pain, and would also be sometimes really slow for people to view. And now
we just use our YouTube channels and Vimeo. And we found that it’s really
important to use, to get pro accounts. And TechSoup is where we got our Flickr Pro
account, and that has been really important and the Vimeo Pro and some of the
others can really make a difference. So I feel like they
are working investment. We also early-on, set up Facebook
groups and Twitter for our Big Car and used that as a way to
stay connected with people. I’m taking you to the Big
Car group page and Facebook. And also taking you to our Twitter
page which is linked to Facebook. So there again, you can link people back to your
site from both of those as often as you like. So one thing that we really felt like we
needed to do with the site was keep it fresh, and keep the news that you have on there
up-to-date, not leave things on the main page or out where people will see them that
are more than a couple of weeks old. So like this story is about
something that happened on October 6, so is going to need go down pretty soon. We
kind of think about the dates that people see, especially on the main pages, sort
of the way you would with journalism where if it’s old news it’s time for it
to go and be replaced by something newer. But we kind of did an experiment for a while
where we tried to kind of have daily content, because we thought we wanted
people to come back every day. And I don’t think that ever really
worked out, and it was a lot of work. So we kind of created this daily comic that
was based on things that people said to us, or sent in comments, and then we we do
these collage things. And it was kind of fun, but I think we did 10 days worth and then
we quit, because it was really too much work. And we really didn’t see that having a
daily update was drawing people to the site. They would go when they needed information
or wanted to know when things were happening. So the key for us is just to have an informative
site, and one that has news and information that people need, but also information
that people like the media could use. And have a one sheet there that they could click
on to get this sort of short scoop on who we are, and to be able to download and see
that there is other media coverage. This is also a good way for people to find out
about what is going on with your organization, even if they are not in the media. And one thing that we have been doing for
several years is keeping our logo there on the site for people to download because
it comes up a lot when you are partnering with people, or some kind of a thing
where a designer wants to use your logo to put on a poster or something. So basically for us, now we are sort of in
this position where we are planning to redesign the site and we want to go a little bit
further in the direction that we’ve been going, taking the idea of sort of organizing this
a little bit more and keeping it from being sort of overwhelming. And we’ve been looking
at other sites. And I really feel like that looking around at sites that
you like and sort of thinking about what you can borrow from them, and just
doing research to sort of create a hybrid of things that you can use
and ideas you can borrow. This is an organization in Chattanooga
Tennessee that has a site that we were looking at. And we like the simplicity
of it. And this is sort of the direction with the redesign of our site we are going to
go in, where there is a little bit less going on. Even though I think we are probably going to
end up working more with a slider like this, because I don’t know that we are going
to be able to give up having something on the main page that we want to highlight,
because we are really used to that. This is a partner organization of ours in
Indianapolis that has recently redone their site. So we are also looking at ideas from
them that we want to borrow from them as we work on our site. So basically, those are the things that
we are kind of highlighting with our site. And kind of where we are
and our plans for the future. And I appreciate your time and
I’m happy to answer any questions. Kyla: Awesome. Thank you so much Jim. Yeah,
it’s really interesting to see how your website has been evolving along with the
change of focus of your organization, and how that is really
reflecting that. So that’s great. I do think we have quite a few
questions both for you and Elliott. Really quick, let me get my fancy,
or not so fancy question slide up. Just give me one second. Alright. So let me take
a look at some questions. First of all, I do want to go
ahead and ask some questions that were directed towards
Elliot specifically about CMSes. And it’s asking about specific
content management systems. So is Adobe Contribute a CMS
or what do you think of Plesk? Do you have any opinions
on either of those? Elliott: I am not familiar with either of those,
so I really don’t even want to try to make u an answer. We can certainly find some stuff
about those and get the information to you. Contribute is available through
TechSoup, correct? Yeah, it is. So we can certainly send you
some information about those, but I don’t want to try to speak
out of what I actually know. Kyla: Okay, cool. And we
did have a question asking, do I need to go through a consultant
to create a WordPress site? Elliott: I’ll tell you my
personal experience with this, because I have actually been playing
with WordPress a fair amount recently. I’m starting a thing outside of work. And over
about 2 weeks I made a reasonably good site in WordPress that is functional. Its definitely
not the most attractive site in the world, but it is functional. It’s kind of like I said earlier, that how
much of this you can do yourself depends partly on how ambitious your goals for the site are.
It also just depends on how willing you are to get your hands dirty in this stuff
personally. I have pretty high tolerance for that, so I managed to kind of fumble
my way through making a website. I don’t know if I have a better answer to that
than WordPress is certainly more user-friendly than some of those others. There are a lot
of free templates available for WordPress. I would imagine that most nonprofits would want
somebody with a little bit more design chops than I have for example, somewhere in
the process of putting together a website. But I’m also a big fan of John
Wayne-ing things and trying it yourself. Kyla: Okay, cool. So this question is about
CMSes, but it is really directed towards Jim. And they wanted for you to reiterate
what CMS you are using currently, and maybe what CMS you are
looking to use in the future. Jim: The one we are using right now is
Movable Type. And I have used WordPress once, and that may be the direction that
we go. Movable Type has been fine. I think in the free version that we’ve
had, we had a few hack problems or something that was just not good for a little while,
but it seems like they’ve taken care of that. But I think WordPress is probably the direction
we’ll go in the future from what I understand. Kyla: Okay, cool, thank you very much. And this
question I think whoever wants to answer this, maybe Elliott, we have somebody that says that
they currently have a website created in Drupal. And it doesn’t entirely do what they
want. And the creator is no longer in the organization’s picture. But they
also have decided to start using a CRM. So there comes this chicken and egg question.
Which comes first, the CMS or the CRM? Elliott: So I’ll try to take a stab at that question,
and Jim should certainly feel free to chime in if you want to. I think it’s possible that
earlier on I might have overstated the importance of CRM integration. If there is a specific
reason why you need CRM integration, that your constituents need to be able to
login for something specifically connected to your organization’s services, then you
definitely want to look at putting together that solution in a unified way, and
probably getting a consultant to help you through that process. But for most nonprofits,
I think the importance of CRM integration is kind of overstated. Kyla: Okay, great, thanks. Sorry,
I had a little bit of a glitch here. So Jim, did you have
anything to add to that? Jim, are you on? Jim: I guess I don’t. I’m here. I didn’t really
even know what CRM is. So I guess I do now. But I felt like the content management
system was crucial right at the beginning, and I understand the connection
between. But for our organization with being a small as we are, we really
just needed to be able to keep it up to date. And I think one thing, and I’ve heard
that a lot about different people leaving who’ve set up websites, or that people will
have some students that offer to do it for free and then they are gone. I think
thinking through who sets up your website and how much access you are
going to have is really crucial, because I think that ends up being
a problem for a lot of organizations. Elliott: Hey Jim, do you guys use
a some sort of system for people who want to like RSVP or
buy tickets for an event? Jim: No. Not something from the site, I
think we’ve used like off-site services like Brown Paper Tickets and things like that,
but we haven’t integrated those in with the site. Elliott: Okay. I was just wondering.
That’s another integration question that would be worth thinking
about for some nonprofits. I didn’t know if that was
a big issue for you or not. Jim: Yeah, most of our
stuff is pretty grass-roots, so it’s just like a pay
at the door kind of thing. Kyla: Okay, cool. The next question
is, can we expect a website designer to also be a graphic designer? Whoever wants to take a stab at that. Elliott: I am also not a big expert in like what
the field of consultants looks like necessarily. There are many that do both. There are many
that do various sort of combination of services. I would encourage you to look at that
listing of consultants in the Idealware guide. I would also encourage you to look at a
webinar that we did a year or 2 ago called, How Much Should a Website Cost?
That was presented by Allen Gunn who works a lot with those consultants, so
is much more familiar with what is going on in that field than I am. But I think I
interrupted Jim. I think he had something to say. Jim: Yeah, I think like with our site,
when we redesigned it, the look was designed by a graphic designer, and we handed it
to the web designer and he worked with it. And I think sometimes those
people are one and the same, and sometimes one is more interested in how
things look in the designer aspect of it visually. And maybe the web designers are sometimes
more on the functionality side of things. So maybe a collaboration between
both and maybe having both involved is a good idea if you can. Kyla: Right, and I feel like this question
kind of goes with graphic design as a follow-up. The question is specifically about
Twitter, should Twitter backgrounds be informative or just attractive? But I
think that can go with website backgrounds or website layouts in general, if attraction
or information should be the crucial thing. Elliott: Information should be the crucial
thing. There’s a story that I told in the chapter that you can see online too, the has to do with
an organization where I have a couple of friends that had somebody build a website
for them entirely in flash. And it was a super attractive website with
pop up menus and all those fancy things, but with this major problem that nobody at the
organization knew how to actually update it. So it just sat there and got more
and more stale literally for years. I think that — I’m certainly a believer — and I
want to hear Jim’s perspective on this as an artist and personally putting together that site too
— that there is a certain kind of simplicity with a certain kind of style and chutzpah
is the right way to go most of the time. Specifically the question
about Twitter backgrounds. Quit putting lots of extra information
in your Twitter backgrounds. It’s annoying and it is not
readable on a lot of browsers. And people can’t click on those links because
that is just a picture. So don’t do that. Jim: Yeah, I think that simplicity is really
important. The flash designed sites — the other thing to keep in mind with sites
that we are working on with the next round is that you are going to be — people are
going to be viewing them on smaller devices all the time with phones, and
with iPads and things like that. So I think that even is further
reason to keep them simple. Kyla: Okay, cool. And I am
going to keep reading questions. I do want to point out that we have
quite a few more questions to go through, and only about 6 to 8
minutes left in our time. So if there are any questions that
we don’t get to, you can e-mail us and we will try to follow up with you directly.
And I will be sending out the e-mail afterwards for you to do that, or I will be
putting it on the community forums and you can ask more questions
there, and we will try to answer any unanswered questions there as well. So to continue, we do have a question that
says, our nonprofit has the IT know how to keep the organization moving forward, but
the main driver of the organization does not. And since we use Google sites, have a news
feed set up, but the few paid employees do not have the knowledge of how
to maintain content within the CMS. So do you have any ideas of how to
work with them to solve this problem? Jim: I would say training, training for
everyone. But you can go ahead Elliott. Elliott: No, I agree with that. This is a
major problem that gets to something bigger than web design which has to do
with mission alignment between IT and the rest of the organization. Providing
that training in a way that is useful to the rest of the organization, but
then also providing that continual support and not having the IT exist just sort of on an
island. So I think it is a problem on both sides. Kyla: Okay, great. I really like this next
question simply because I think of this as something that we always talk about collecting
user feedback, and collecting information about your community base. But a lot of times
we don’t necessarily know how to go about that. So this question is, I’d like to know more
about effective ways to collect user feedback, and adapt or modify the site to better meet
our objectives. Elliott, you can go first. Elliott: This is a great question, and I talk
about this a little bit more in the chapter. I don’t know if we mentioned this earlier. I
would encourage you to get a hold of the book, but you can also read my chapter online. I think
that when you are kind of assembling that team of people to work with on the website, that
shouldn’t only include people in the organization. That should include your volunteers. That
should include sort of key evangelists for your organization in the community. When you include those people in the design
process, something really interesting happens. You get their perspective as the
big champions of your organization. And you also learn how other people who
care about your organization talk about the organization. You learn kind of what
their are 30 second elevator pitch is about your organization. So I am a big
believer in those focus group meetings with kind of your key, your organization’s
key champions in the community. There are also certainly things you can do
a surveys. As most of the people here know, TechSoup is in the middle of a major
site redesign. And throughout that process we’ve been doing lots of
surveys of the community. We’ve been doing lots of focus
group meetings with the community. So I don’t think it is possible to ask too
much, and people do appreciate being asked. Kyla: Jim, did you have
a follow-up to that? Jim: Yeah, I agree. But for small group,
the focus groups are probably easier like working with people that you have
nearby. Yes, I guess the main thing when you are a smaller group, doing
a major survey would be a challenge in compiling that data. But talking with
people who are close, like Elliott said, to your group is probably the quickest
easiest way to just get it done. Kyla: Okay, cool. These next 2 questions
I’m going to just kind of loop together. One is how often do you recommend doing
a complete overhaul of your website? And the other is approximately how
many hours would it take to develop — this question is for a skin for a website, but
I’m curious about just developing a new website in general. And Jim you
can go first with this. Jim: The skin for our site didn’t take long at
all. We just did the design for the right dimensions that the web builder gave us. And then
we just went that to him to put in place. So he might say it took a while, but it didn’t
seem like it took nearly as long as it would to do a whole redesign. And most
of that stuff, the big stuff, with migrating over to a new content
management system and things like that, are the longer term things that I’m sure
Elliott has more of an idea on that than I do. Elliott: That timeframe, it really does
depend a lot on how big the organization is, and how ambition your plans for the website are.
I would encourage people to pad that timeframe to include time for those focus groups and
interviews and all of those sorts of things. You can build a website in a
month, and then spend the next year kind of trying to work your programs to fit
that website, and that would not be advised. Kyla: Okay, awesome. So like I said, we
do only have a couple of minutes left. So I’m going to ask a couple more
questions that came in directly for Jim. And any of the other questions that
we don’t get to, again I put the URL for our community forums, so I will be trying
to address a lot of unanswered questions there. So be looking for that. And in the follow-up
e-mail that I send out I will be sending out e-mails that you can send follow-up questions. So Jim, these are just a
couple of questions for you. The first is regarding your past
and future redesign decisions. Do you feel that the purpose of
the site evolves with the design, or are the redesigns more
to freshen up the look? Jim: I think we are really happy with the look.
I think the redesign is sort of to go back to something Elliott mentioned earlier to connect
the site better with where we have evolved as an organization, and also to simplify. I
think that sometimes when people have to navigate all over the place or go scroll
down, you lose that attention. So we want to simplify to
keep people from scrolling down and also adapt to people looking
at the site on smaller screens and to make it easier to
view on mobile devices. Kyla: Okay, cool. And then finally,
how did you set up your donations page? Jim: I think that — gee, I don’t even remember.
The donations button on our site runs through — I think it just may be a PayPal link.
Yeah, So we just run that through PayPal. So all of our donations
are handled through PayPal. Kyla: Okay, awesome. So like I
said, we are at the end of our time so I do want to go
ahead and wrap this up. So again, Elliott and Jim, thank you so
much for your wonderful presentations today. It’s been really, really informative. I will
attempt to do any kind of follow up for any questions we may have missed. And just as a reminder, we
will be sending out the archive and the links for this presentation within a week. Using GoToWebinar we do need
to get the archive into YouTube before I can send that link out, so
it is a little bit longer of a delay. But we will be getting
that to you. Never fear. Also be aware that we do
have an upcoming webinar that might be applicable to this audience,
which is Short Evaluations of Real Websites. And that is happening on
Thursday, November 10, at 11:00 AM. And I will be sending out this
bit.ly for the registration as well. And during this free one hour webinar presented
in cooperation with SAP a donor partner of TechSoup, web design experts will take
a look at a succession of real nonprofit and library websites. So
be sure to check that out. And as well as thanking our presenters, I do
want to thank our webinar sponsor Citrix Online for providing the GoToWebinar
tool that we are using today. And I do want to thank William
Coonan for helping us out on chat. And I want to go ahead and
thank all of our attendees today. Thank you for attending today’s webinar. And
again, Elliott and Jim, thank you very much. And if all attendees could be sure to fill
out the survey that comes up when you exit today’s webinar, that will help
us in developing future webinars. So again, thank you. And in order to leave
you can go up to file, exit, leave webinar. Thank you very much.

One comment

  1. Just a suggestion…Stop sucking your teeth at the end of every sentence.

    REALLY annoying!!!!!

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