So your nonprofit has a website project coming up, does it? Well congrats! That’s very exciting. This is a chance for you to overhaul the way you’re approaching your community and drive an influx of visitors to become supporters of your cause.
It’s also a daunting task that’s undoubtedly going to require a tremendous amount of your time and energy to get it right.
But fear not. We’ve compiled some pointers we give to our clients when they’re setting out on a website overhaul. Hopefully these tips will help alleviate some of the stress often associated with kicking off a website redesign project and set you up for success.
Assign a Point Person
This may sound simple, but that doesn’t make it any less important. From the very outset, assign a point person for the project. That doesn’t mean this person will make all of the decisions or do all of the work. It just means they’ll be the one with their finger on the pulse of the project.
Choose someone who is organized and will get things done on time. Being able to effectively delegate work is a huge plus as well. Having one central person running point will bring clarity and organization to the whole process.
Figure Out the Team
Next, assemble the team. Determine who will be involved upfront in providing initial ideas. Or weigh in with feedback throughout the project. Or be involved in writing content. Or take the lead on shooting photos.
If you’ll need input from multiple people (which is pretty typical), make sure they’re on board and committed to the project from the beginning. Explain the importance of their role and ensure they’ll have enough time to deliver high quality work within the timeframe you’ll need them to.
Which leads us to…
Look at Upcoming Events
Before committing to a timeline for a website project, check it against your upcoming events. For example, if you have a major fundraising event, it’s likely unrealistic that your development team is going to be available to help with your project in the weeks leading up to it.
Being mindful of your major events can help you avoid delays and lose momentum on your project part way through.
Think About Content (But Don’t Write)
We often get asked about content. It’s true, writing content is a beast. In most of our projects, this is the largest involvement of time on the part of our clients. It’s such a major undertaking in fact that we wrote a whole post with tips on how to avoid delays while producing stellar content.
That said, we typically recommend you don’t start writing before your project kicks off. There’s a really good chance your site structure is going to change (sometimes pretty drastically) in the early stages of your website project. If you write content too early, you could end up needing to substantially revise it to make it work within the new structure. And we’re not fans of double work.
Instead of putting pen to paper too early, we recommend you think about the types of content you’ll need for your new site. In addition to general page content, consider what content will require involvement from other people. Here we’re talking about things like success stories. Or donor spotlights. Or testimonials.
If you think you’ll have some content like this, starting early could be a good bet. You don’t necessarily need your site structure finalized before you start setting up donor interviews or asking for testimonials. Starting early can help you avoid delays down the road.
Start Gathering Files and Multimedia
While it likely makes sense to hold off on writing the vast majority of your content, we highly recommend you get a jump on gathering files and multimedia. This includes things like:
- Audio clips
- Logo files
- Brand guidelines
- Annual reports
- Pieces of research
- Direct mailers (you may want to match)
These sorts of things are notoriously difficult to gather and can easily hold up a project. Whenever possible, get started early. You may not use everything you gather. But having these things handy will give you the best options to choose from and ultimately lead to a stronger end product.
Track Down Usernames and Passwords for Technical Accounts
I know it doesn’t seem like usernames and passwords would be tough to gather, but trust me, get an early start on rounding these up. You’ll likely need to access a lot of technical accounts throughout your project, and there will inevitably be one or two usernames or passwords that are really tough to track down.
While this isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list, it’s a good place to start:
- Domain name
- Email newsletter provider
- Payment processor
- Content management system (for your current site)
- Donor management system
That’s it! If you get started with the above steps when prepping for your nonprofit’s website project, you’ll be in great shape from the outset. In our experience, a bit of preparation goes a long way towards ensuring smooth sailing throughout the entire project.
Have anything you’d like to add to our list? Or something you plan to try on your next project? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.