Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Evaluating Your Organization's Web Site Needs

website1It’s pretty clear that nonprofits can benefit from having a web site, but getting one up and running can be a daunting prospect. In most cases, there isn’t a lot of money in the budget for such things, especially when money is earmarked for the important work your organization does. Many nonprofits shoestring their web sites by having volunteers or staff create them, rather than turning to more costly options.

No matter what approach you’re planning to take, you can make your site more valuable, and potentially save money by taking the time to do an evaluation of your needs. Asking and answering just a few questions can help point you in the right direction to creating a site that is functional for your specific organization, rather than trying to make do with something that isn’t a great fit.

There are plenty of ways to approach this evaluation, but the place to start is by asking two very specific questions. These will help you address the most pressing issues and will help determine what approach should be taken.

Question #1: What does your site need to do? In this age, there are a lot of functions that a web site can fulfill. In some cases, you may simply be looking for an informative site that shares your mission and provides contact information. Other organizations, however, may prefer to use their site to create a conversation, utilizing blogs or forums to foster communication and collaboration. Additionally, you may want to set up your site so that it can accept online donations, register for events, or purchase products. Knowing what you need up front is incredibly important for determining how to design a site that will fit your needs.

Question #2: What resources can you tap to build and maintain the site? Resources in this case will certainly include budget, but they might also extend to the skills of staff and volunteers. It may also be beneficial to take a look at free and low-cost products and services that your organization can use to build the site. For example, could you use a free WordPress template rather than building something from scratch? Of course, you also want to consider how the site will be maintained. Who will be updating content, setting up registration forms, or communicating with constituents on behalf of the organization, and do you need to pay this person?

From here, you will likely have plenty of questions to ask regarding the building and upkeep of the site. Once the site is operational, it’s good to revisit these questions to make sure the site really is meeting your needs. You may want to add functionality in the future, and if you keep your options open when building the initial site, adding these additional features will be far less work.

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