How to start a charity website: the tech
Charity, Web Design by KemuelTags : , ,

Get ready to beam up…

Now you’ve planned out your charity, it’s time to discuss the choices you’ll have to make to start building that website. Depending on the features you’d like to see on the website, you may have to choose a different type of supporting technology. Now, if tech isn’t really your thing, this may sound a bit scary. Don’t worry too much though. Learning new concepts will definitely be part of the experience, but the modern web is quite user-friendly and we’re here to guide you. In fact, if our posts are missing something, just send us a message.

What is a website?

Websites effectively are a collection of text files and images, which are interpreted by your computer to form a website. There are both static and dynamic websites. Static websites never change, while dynamic websites can gather and provide new information to your users. You may for instance manage a mailing list, hold a donation drive or sell some products. There are many ways to make a website nowadays without having too much technical knowledge, but it is good to understand the basics of how websites work.

Types of websites

When designing a website you first have to ask yourself, what type of website do you want to create?

The first type of website is an informative website. They usually have only a few pages, typically five or six. Using these pages you will convey your drives and passions, as well as offer an easy way to contact you. Often this is enough to start, especially if you are interacting with a lot people live. After having met you, they will be able to look up your information and find out how to contribute.

Informative websites are very simple and can be created using a website template for a static website. These type of website templates are often text files with some code and text. While this may sound scary, effectively you can just replace the fake names and text used as a demo in the templates with your own and it will work just fine.

There are also many graphical sitebuilders, which let you build a simple site with a few clicks and no code interaction. When using these tools you’ll typically get an acceptable result, but you’ll have less control. One thing to watch out for especially when using these tools is whether you actually get the website it generates. Often the website will be bound to the service. If you ever decide to pause the project or leave the service, you’ll lose everything.

A static website is often a good place to start, but we live in the digital age. Keeping in touch with your customers is not only easier than ever, but essential. People are exposed to a lot of information fast and often quickly lose attention. Linking your website to social media and sharing updates is recommended to keep your cause fresh in their minds and build a community.

Do you generate enough content? Then why not keep a blog? Blogs are a type of dynamic website which let you post periodic updates. Technically they are more complicated, but practically they come with a graphical dashboard that lets you post new stories. The same dashboard can be used to edit the rest of the website, which saves you the trouble of editing any text files. Plugins are often available which let you share your blog posts immediately to social media and gather comments and feedback to each post.

When both the blog and website are managed together we call it a Content Management System or CMS for short. Most standard websites nowadays are run using one of several types of free CMS software. The easiest and most popular is WordPress, followed by Drupal and Joomla.

In most cases WordPress will be the best way to start your site. Many templates are available and it can handle simple websites, blogs and even webshops using a variety of plugins. The community support and updates are also great which is important to keep your website secure.

Once you’ve decided the type of website you want to run it’s time to move on to the next aspect: web hosting.

Go back to the overview, our next post will discuss web hosting and will be published on August 19th.

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