How to rebuild your charity’s website

Effectively manage your website project.

John Newton's picture
John Newton
 
Building works
 

It’s a common scenario - your charity website is outdated and not functioning well. However, a rebuild seems like a huge undertaking right now. You have so many issues to deal with, not least how to adapt to the pandemic that developing a new website seems a step too far.

But if your organisation is to survive and thrive, your website is more important than ever. It is your primary digital investment, the centre around which your other digital channels coalesce. What’s more, rebuilding your website need not be the huge undertaking you may be anticipating. If your digital partner is experienced in your sector, they should be able to take you through the process fairly painlessly.

We’ve developed a trusted structured approach that we use with all our charity clients. While each client and not all teir needs are the same, there are common problems to be solved and  following tried and tested procedures can make the process as painless as possible. We’ve always adopted a very hands-on approach, involving up-front workshops and co-creation, but these days we carry out all these activities online. Zoom or Teams meetings are targeted and effective. A good online project management tool - we use Active Collab - ensures a transparent, fully documented and clear pathway from conception to site delivery.

Here are some tips to help ensure your charity website rebuild is a success:

  1. think carefully about the pros and cons of your existing platform. For example, if you are already running a site on an open source system like WordPress or Drupal, you might be better to upgrade your existing site rather than start from scratch. If your site has been built properly to begin with then the visual presentation layer should be fairly straightforward to remove - completely changing the look and feel of your existing website might be a lot easier to achieve than you imagine
  2. review your understanding of your users. Take time to think about your site’s audience - typically this may be divided into just a few groups, such as service users, commissioners or other professionals in your sector. Who is your most important audience? How can your site serve their needs first while still supporting the needs of your secondary user groups?
  3. carry out an audit of your site content. How much is still relevant? What can you safely remove and what can you build on? What are your key messages and are they currently getting lost in the background noise of all the less important content you have developed over the years?
  4. use your networks, especially online communities for charity comms, to learn from your colleagues about costs for rebuilds (which vary widely depending on your size and requirements) and also for recommendations for trusted digital partners. Try to find a digital partner who has plenty of experience in your sector.
  5. lastly, agree internally what your new site is going to achieve for you. Try to make these goals as concrete as possible. Targets aren’t the be all and end all but they can help you keep your efforts focused. Are you looking to increase reach so more people find your services? Are you aiming to provide more training courses to fellow professionals, or are you seeking to increase donations? Look at how you are currently performing in these areas then set some KPIs to help you shape and then assess your site improvements.

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay