Charity website development guide

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Website design and development is more available and affordable than ever before, but before jumping in at the deep-end, especially as a charity where every penny is essential, lets consider as much of the process as possible to help you along the way. It is not just budget, but user experience, search engine optimisation and of course, suitability for the highly valuable Google Adwords grant. You can read more about that in our Guide to Google Adwords charity grant blog.

Before you start or even consider the budget, you will need to outline your requirements, an essential part of any project, not just a website. The budget will be far easier to workout from there and it may increase or reduce the feature list you have in mind. Prices will vary wildly depending on the agency/contractor being used, their skill and experience level and the website features required from the charity. Cheaper isn’t always better, but neither is expensive. Choose your developer based on the experience and knowledge they can demonstrate to you and scale your project and budget in order to work with the right team. Charity experience is a plus with a host of additional benefits available to you when working with experienced teams that understand the sector.

What does the site need to do?

Seems like a simple question, and it will be the first from your developer before they even think about costs, so you must start here. As a charity, your site can be built in various ways, depending on what it will need to do.

  • First off, do you already have a website? If so, it is essential that you and your developers seek expert SEO advice before embarking on a new web build that will replace an old site. Ideally, create your new site with developers who are experienced in SEO. For more information, please Contact Us for free advice.
  • Do you have a call centre to take donations? If so, your number will be a prominent feature on the site (and within marketing campaigns).
  • Are you a small team who struggle to take calls? this would suggest your site will be better suited with an online donation method rather than a phone number service, reducing workload on staff.
  • Do you have payment gateways available already, Worldpay, Paypal etc? If not, it is worth looking into these to ease the process for your developers when creating an online donations system.
  • Do you just want to educate and gain exposure for your cause first? Certainly it can suit charities to create their site with the core message first to allow them to gain some of the exposure they require with existing contacts or through external marketing methods. Bear in mind, it will take time for your site to grow its traffic if it is a brand new site.
READ  Guide to Google Adwords charity grants

Always consider phasing your site into segmented builds. Taking the above into consideration, you may wish to have every feature available to you, but budget nor resources will allow that at the first phase. Stay realistic and work with your developers to get the best outcome for your charity with an end goal being realised after a staggered build.

What do we need to be considering as a whole?

They are some of the more serious considerations when considering the site as a whole, but a far more comprehensive list of options will also need to be considered (but not exclusively), including some of the below:

  • Do you own the domain already?
  • Do you have hosting? (is there a website online somewhere already)
  • Can you get the above details and/or create accounts for the above? If you are unsure, ask your developer for more details.
  • Will there be an account section? This would include registering users and offering additional information to those logged in.
  • Will you want to accept newsletter subscriptions to build a mailing list?
  • Do you have suitable services available for email marketing campaigns?
  • What are your key pages and messages you wish to feature across your site?
    • About us
    • What we do
    • Causes that are close to you
    • How we help/Our beneficiaries
    • Blog/news/learn
    • Donate
    • Monthly donate
    • Legacy donations
    • Events/activities
    • Fundraising
    • Contact
    • Etc
  • Your site will need to be mobile responsive.
  • Do you have quality resources such as images, branding and videos that can be used throughout your site? If not, will there be a way to source these prior to a project starting?
  • What sort of design would you like? A 3D animated intro of a story around your beneficiaries may sound nice, but a simple flat design website will be user friendly and more affordable.
  • Will you require design iterations, wireframing etc?
  • Have you considered maintenance costs? Security updates, fixes etc
  • Have you considered a digital marketing budget for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay per click)? if not, these will be essential for the success of your site. For more information on this, you can take a look at our SEO/PPC services where we offer experienced services specifically to charities.
  • By considering the above prior to a site build, you will ensure that your site is optimised from the off and avoid developers having to go back and do additional work, at an additional cost. This is a mistake made by many new websites and even some charities.
  • What is the timescale and deadline?
  • Who will the developers have to work with?External SEO agency? External analytics agency? External PR and copywriters? All of this will complicate the project at every stage and should be considered early on. It may well effect the price quoted.
  • Have you considered working in a contingency to your budget once the above has been considered. Deviation from the original brief will result in a change in budget, but this can not always be avoided.
  • Future developments of the site. Is it going to be the next Amazon? If so, your developers will need to design and build with this in mind.
READ  Guide to Google Adwords charity grants

Think you’re ready now?

The above is just to give an insight for those that are not experienced in the world of web development or leading a project from conception through to completion. Do your research and work with a team that has the experience to guide you though the process and get you to the results you want. It may seem daunting, but taking the advice that is on offer from experts in the field will be more than beneficial to your project.

Choosing a developer that has some experience with charities will be an additional benefit.

Searched are an experienced team of web developers and digital marketers, currently working directly with charities and within the legacy gifting sector. For a free, no obligation, consultation on your charity site requirements, do not hesitate to Contact Us.