No one comes into a website project thinking, “Gosh, I really hope I can drag this out over the next 18 months.” Most of the organizations we talk to are hoping to launch yesterday but don’t know how to build a website quickly without sacrificing things that are important to them.
If a new website is on the horizon for your nonprofit, get a jump on your preparations to help the process go smoothly and without the speedbumps that result in lost time and functionality. I’ve gathered up our top advice to get you on the fast track to launch.
Plus, our project managers share insights and tips based on clients that launch their websites quickly—sometimes just a few weeks from start to finish!
Prepare Now for a Fast Launch Later
The secret to building a website quickly is pretty simple. It comes down to preparation before you start so that decision making and content creation is the result of a clear vision for success. When you want to move fast, you have to get organized. But unless you’ve been in a position to make lots of different websites, it’s hard to know where to start and how to prepare. Here’s what we suggest.
Decide How to Make a Website
Right from the start, the biggest determining factor for your website timeline is the approach you take to building the site. A fully custom web design isn’t going to be fast by its very nature, and it comes with a hefty price tag. A low-cost or free DIY website builder can be fast but you’ll have to carry the full load of work. A middle ground like the Wired Impact approach might be the best choice depending on your needs. When it comes to shortening your project timeline, focus on the “how” of your website first.
- How to Choose the Best Website Company for Your Nonprofit
- Lowering the Cost of a Nonprofit Website Redesign When Money is Tight
- Paid Website Platforms vs. Free Website Builders for Nonprofits [FAQs]
Nail Down What You Need
Nothing blows up a website project timeline quite like a continually changing list of features and design requests. The more that you have nailed down the better when it comes to building quickly. Spell it all out in a web design brief, even if only for internal use. This is the time to get a handle on your design preferences, a must-have website feature list, and any needed integrations (like with your donor database).
Keep in mind that you don’t have to get everything on your website wishlist right away as long as you’re comfortable expanding functionality over time—and have the right partner and budget to do that.
- Nonprofit Websites: The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Dream Site
- 38 Nonprofit Branding Questions to Consider on Your Website
- Online Donations: Evaluate and Improve Your Process
- 6 Online Forms for Nonprofits to Build on Your Website
Get Started on Housekeeping
I know, more homework. At this point, you should have a very clear vision of what you and your visitors are going to accomplish with a new site. The next step is to start sweating the details of what you need to build the website from a technical standpoint and how you are going to manage the project within your organization. It’s also never too early to start thinking about what is going on your website (content) because it will influence a lot of key pieces, like your website structure.
- Preparing for a Website Project? Get Your Technical Accounts in Order
- Managing Feedback from your Nonprofit Stakeholders
- Nonprofit Marketing Project Management: Making Your Plan a Reality
- The Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content
How to Build a Website Quickly According to Our Project Managers
Our project managers have seen a lot of nonprofit websites come to life. When it comes to quickly moving to launch, here’s what they have to say about successful clients:
They have the mindset that the website is a living tool that can constantly be improved. Create a plan that is reasonable to accomplish before your goal launch date and keep a list of things to revisit once the site is live. You can always continue adding helpful content, photos, etc. in phases!Allyson
They get technical account setup and access out of the way early on. It can feel pretty discouraging to finish customizing the content on your site and get stoked for launch only to find that the domain account credentials you just found don’t actually give our developers access to your site’s DNS records. Clients who launch quickly tend to have squared away their technical details early so they don’t have to worry about it later on.Nickie
Another thing these organizations have in common? Both Allyson and Nickie note that our fast-moving clients start by using Wired Impact’s free website trial to learn how things work and customize the design before the clock starts ticking.
According to Nickie, “Beyond updating the homepage, they’re diving in and getting content on their internal pages, adding and reorganizing pages, and reaching out to us for help when they need it.” A trial offers a chance to hit the ground running in a way that’s just not possible with other types of web design.
Let’s Do This!
Focus first on what you want to accomplish with a new website before worrying about how to build a website quickly. Let your goals guide your approach to web design, your list of desired features and your content. A great designer or website service can then translate your vision into reality by giving you the advice and support that you need to stay on schedule. The preparation more than pays for itself in the end.
How have you saved time when quickly launching a new website? Is anything keeping your nonprofit from moving as fast as you wish it would? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.