SETTING UP A WEBSITE FOR YOUR NGO

Some guidance for NGOs…

 See also > Networklearning Services
» Free Website Critique
» Low-cost Website Upgrade & Editing
» Free new website development for qualifying NGOs.

Firstly, I would recommend to take advantage of free sites that offer a profile page. You can then get practice in thinking about how you want to present yourself online as well as the process of adding content (and keeping it updated) and using it for networking.

  • In addition to well-known 'social media' sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as an NGO you have specialist options, like ammado (see our Networklearning profile).
When you want to create your own working website, these are the essential things you need:
  • Content
  • Design & coding
  • Address & hosting

Content

Be clear what purpose(s) the website needs to fulfill.

Decide what content – including interactive features – the website should contain now, and think about how it might develop in the future.

Write and organise your content into sections, and gather or create any supporting pictures needed.

Design & coding

Work out an initial design sketch yourself on paper

Whoever then designs and codes the website should at minimum be familiar with the two essential building blocks of website creation: html and CSS.

If you just want a basic website and you have plenty of time and good basic computing skills, then you could acquire the knowledge and skills yourself.

  • A good starting place: itrainonline.org explains the basics of web design and management, and has more advanced resources on web programming.

Or, you could use an online CMS (Content Management System).

There are many which are free; some of the most popular and easy-to-use ones are known as 'blogs' and are ideal if you are thinking of starting small and adding new content -- news stories, photos -- on a regular basis. With this method, you choose from templates that are already designed and upload content yourself. No special skills are needed, the process is similar to using a word processor. But you need to have a good internet connection for this since it is all done 'online'.

If you have a budget, you could use the services of a web developer: a company or individual designer that specializes in creating websites.

A local resource (at local rates) is best but may be hard to find. One way is to contact other NGOs in your country who have a website that you like -- one that is well-designed, works properly and loads quickly -- and ask them how they did it. Maybe they can recommend someone or give other useful information. Often there is a link to the designer of the website at the bottom of the site's home page.

In fact, the designer could be anywhere in the world: for example there are companies in India who can make a professional design of 5 pages for about €150 -- which is very cheap (there are companies elsewhere who might charge up to €1,500). However, be aware that good communication is a vital part of the process of achieving a satisfactory result.

If you have big plans for a website with a lot of content and want interactive things like a forum etc., then I would recommend an Open Source CMS. Such a site requires a special setup which is quite technical and to use it properly you will need support from the developer or self-train using online resources. But you then have the most modern kind of site which you are also able to maintain yourself, without special programming skills needed.

  • Joomla is my recommendation. This is the Open Source website software that is used by this website (developed by the author: more examples)

Address/hosting

Your own domain name is ideal, however any unique address is sufficient.

If you use an online CMS, you don't need to have a domain as your content is hosted for you

For hosting, this costs from €5 and up a month (for the cheapest reliable service with good support).

Further reading

bullet A Nonprofit's Guide to Building Simple, Low-Cost Websites from TechSoup considers the points above in greater detail but very concisely.

bullet 10 Keys to Effective Non-Profit Organization Websites gives clear visual examples – make sure your site has all these covered!

Summary

bullet The content is the most important and you can best do yourself as much as possible, naturally. Good language is very important. You should have a good (human) editor for the key texts.

bullet For the design/coding you can either hire a website designer (or become one yourself), or use a CMS.

bullet For an address/ hosting, you can either buy your own or use a free service (i.e. online CMS)

bullet Everything is in principle doable with limited resources. Building knowledge is the master key to success!

See also > Networklearning Services
» Free Website Critique
» Low-cost Website Upgrade & Editing
» Free new website development for qualifying NGOs.

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