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My Website Design Process for Non-Profits

I. Identify Your Goals

During our initial discussions about your website, I’ll try to determine your answers to the following questions:

+ What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Is it essentially an online business card, to be used as a reference for people you’ve already met in person or spoken to over the phone? Do you hope it will bring in some additional donors and community visibility? Depending on your answer, I’ll recommend different strategies both for what the site should look like and how it should be marketed.
+ Who are your stakeholders? Are they Local / Regional / National / International? What kind of language and content structure will be most effective? This will help focus your marketing strategy in terms of design sensibility and how the site should be structured.
+ Should your site have any special features? Should we integrate Google Maps, Calendar, or a Custom Search Engine? Online donations through Stripe? Email integration? Do you have the energy and motivation to blog? Are there are other ways to engage your audience?

II. Site Architecture

Effective site architecture is one of the most underrated, and overlooked, techniques that help people find and use your website. Your site should be easy to navigate, be arranged in a logical fashion, and laid out to generate the maximum number of conversions. We’ll discuss your most important content areas, and how to get visitors to that content in the shortest amount of time. We’ll identify which pieces of content are likely to garner the highest search engine rankings, and I’ll use a combination of on-page SEO strategies–in particular, properly targeted Title Tags and internal anchor text–to get those pages ranking well.

I build all of my sites on WordPress, so you’ll always be able to update it, should you need to.  But we’ll discuss how much customization of WordPress you’ll need based on your maintenance budget and inclination–how often you intend to update your content, whether someone on your staff knows enough HTML to make changes, and whether it makes financial sense for you to maintain on your own.

III. Design Themes

I’ll ask you to provide me with a set of website designs that you like the look of. They can be any industry, not just the non-profit world. Then, I’ll source a series of WordPress themes that match your preferred aesthetic. We’ll discuss this series, and choose one of the themes to revise and refine into the final version.

IV. Coding + Development

The meat of the process. Depending on the size of your site, this could take as little as a few hours or as many as a few weeks. Everything will be done on a staging server so that you’ll see the complete website, but the general public won’t.

V. Testing

We’ll go through your site + look for broken links, alignment troubles, any copy that might need revision, etc.

VI. Launch; SEO Fine-Tuning

Once we’re sure everything is working properly, we’ll launch your site! I’ll execute some initial SEO best-practices and make recommendations for any PR efforts you might make surrounding your launch.

VII. Analytics

After your site has been live for a few weeks, it’s a good idea to check the data about the traffic you are bringing into your website: where it’s coming from, what content people are finding interesting, and how many donor and stakeholder leads you are generating.