I build websites using WordPress. Whatever size of organisation, and whatever features you need, WordPress is one of the best tools a charity can use to run its website. It enables you to take control of your own website and easily make changes to its content. WordPress sites can be set up quickly and at reasonable cost.
WordPress helps you keep your website up-to-date
Once upon a time if you needed to change some text or a picture on your website, your web designer would charge to do it for you. Not these days. Using WordPress you can write new pages, rearrange their order, format text, insert images and embed videos, without having to have technical skills or know how to write html code. You just login to your website with a password and start making edits.
It’s easy to learn
You won’t need to send yourself on a training course to learn how to use WordPress: it’s fairly intuitive, most people figure it out themselves with a bit of guidance. You can learn a lot by watching free training videos and reading tutorials. However, if you plan to have several people writing content for your website or have a very large website, one or two short on-site group training sessions would be advisable.
WordPress can be used to build simple or complex websites
WordPress is often thought of as a blogging tool but it’s so much more flexible than that. Plugins can be installed that give WordPress additional functionality and make it invaluable for your organisation.
WordPress evolved from a simple blogging tool. It still enables you to publish news articles and have them automatically archived. Your visitors can subscribe by RSS or email to receive your news. It’s a great tool for keeping your supporters in touch.
Campaigns and promotions
You could set up a mini-website for a new campaign, with just a few pages and an online form to sign up supporters to your email newsletter. If you use a membership application like Salesforce, you can connect WordPress to it to collect names and email addresses.
You could enable users to login with their Facebook or Twitter username and password to leave messages of support.
You can turn your website into a Facebook style site, with users able to login, chat to one another and form communities of interest. Alternatively you could have more traditional style discussion forums.
Would you like to offer your members access to a private area of your website, or allow only them to use certain features? WordPress can be used as a fully featured Intranet with document storage, calendar and private discussions.
There are frequent upgrades and improvements
WordPress has a very active community of users and developers committed to its development. New versions come out regularly and bring new useful features and improvements.
WordPress is more accessible out-of-the-box than many content management systems, although in the end it’s the quality of the individual developer’s coding that counts.
WordPress is free
For cash-strapped charities, that’s obviously a good thing. However, a free product isn’t necessarily cost-effective in the long-term: what about the cost of installing it and the staff time spent learning to use it? Good news is it’s quick and easy for a web designer to install, and easy for you to learn.
WordPress is open source
That means that any web developer can see WordPress’s underlying code and customise any part of it to their own needs. Plus when it’s installed within your website no-one can take it away from you. It’s a flexible, adaptable tool and it’s easy to find a web designers with experience of working with it.
There are hundreds of great pre-built themes you can download
You can easily change the look and style of your WordPress website using what’s called a Theme.
Thousands of free themes are available from www.wordpress.org/extend/themes/ but their quality is variable.
Premium themes tend to be better coded and more reliable, and often have better options for customisation and more features. They are usually inexpensive and can save you a great deal of time and money when developing a website.
If you have very specific requirements, you could commission me create a theme to match your organisation’s branding and include those features you really need.
Need a WordPress developer?
I would be happy to discuss your needs and help you decide whether WordPress is the right tool for your charity website. You can also hire me to install WordPress and themes, to design new themes or customise the way your existing website works.
Alternatives to WordPress
WordPress isn’t the only CMS on the market: there are many other simple free and open source alternatives as well as some far more complex paid-for systems. The Boagworld website suggests 10 criteria for selecting a CMS and there’s specific advice for charities in the Managing Content section of the LASA Knowledgebase. There are now so many good, mature and reliable CMS available now that I would echo the advice by Laura Quinn that you should use the CMS that your trusted web developer knows. A great CMS in the hands of someone who doesn’t know it well enough won’t deliver the goods!