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How to Select the Right Web Agency to Build a Nonprofit Website?

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You need to create a website that embodies your ideas, brand, goals, and artistic vision. How do you select the right web agency to bring all this to life?

Start a conversation with an innovative web design firm. We can guide you through a complex decision process in order to satisfy the needs of all your stakeholders – grant funders, donors, your marketing and communications team, and external audience.

Whether you are creating a new nonprofit website or upgrading an old one, here are a few questions to ask when selecting a web agency:

  1. Is the vendor’s team based in the US or do they contract out web development?
  2. Has the vendor completed similar projects?
  3. Does the vendor have in-depth knowledge of nonprofit grant requirements?
  4. Does the vendor have references?
  5. Is the vendor insured?
  6. Does the vendor provide all the services you need to launch the website?
  7. Does the vendor have a track record for completing projects on time?
  8. Does the vendor build accessible websites that meet WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines?
  9. Does the vendor provide long-term support options, such as service-level agreements?
  10. Is the vendor a full agency or an individual freelancer?
  11. Do the team members have the right qualifications to complete the project?
  12. Does the vendor have a full team to support design and development needs in house?
  13. Can the vendor meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and provide project management?
  14. Does the vendor provide hosting services?
  15. Does the vendor provide documentation & training?
  16. Will the vendor leave you with an easy website to use and update, while being available for support when needed?

What are the main requirements of a typical nonprofit website?

  1. Accessible & responsive design built on a modern CMS (content management system) such as WordPress.
  2. Responsive code that works across all browsers and devices.
  3. Well-organized and easy to use.
  4. Easy to find organization resources, with advanced filtering capabilities.
  5. Developed with ease of editing & flexibility in layout and content placement in mind. Nonprofit’s staff, of any technical skill level, should be able to post new content. The communication team can customize pages when needed and fully preview edits before they are published.
  6. Informs supporters about the nonprofit’s mission and vision.
  7. Shows the leadership and members of the organization.
  8. Features a clear call to action. Shows supporters how they can support the mission. This can take the form of a donation page, sign-up forms for events, or ways to email your congressman to show your support.
  9. Needs to be secure and maintained.

Additional third-party services that your website might need to support:

  1. CRM (customer management software) of your choice, such as Salesforce or Virtuous.
  2. Email marketing solutions, such as Mailchimp or Active Campaign.
  3. Donation service of choice, such as 4 a good cause or Givebutter.

Does the agency follow a modern design process or take a more ad-hoc approach?

At CH Web Agency, we follow a modern design process called design thinking. Our process is simple, logical, and transparent. At the same time, it is based on engagement with each nonprofit organization and its management and staff. We put people first, adapt quickly to new data, and launch websites on schedule.

The design thinking approach gives us an intimate knowledge of your organization, its mission, and its goals. Our deep dive into your nonprofit informs how we design and build your nonprofit website, and how we help you tell your story.

Every project goes through 6 stages: Kickoff, Discovery, Design, Development, Delivery, and Support.

Kickoff

The goal of kickoff is to establish a clear communication plan between our team and yours. CH Web Agency will coordinate with your team and schedule interviews with key stakeholders. We’ll align our two teams on how to answer questions, remove roadblocks, and keep the project on schedule. At the end of the week, we’ll host the first meeting with all stakeholders to review our proposed communication and project plan. Kickoff typically takes about one week.

Discovery

Discovery comes before designing logos, building a color palette, drawing wireframes in fancy design programs, or writing any code. Discovery is about making sure our team solves the right problems for the right audience. It ensures that your new website speaks to your audience and reflects your brand.

A successful Discovery will provide the information our team needs to build a site that is easy-to-use, intuitive to navigate, and allows your target audience the ability to accomplish their intended goals without too much hassle.

Design

CH Web Agency translates research into actionable design solutions. The data gathered during the discovery phase will inform all design decisions moving forward. This will ensure that the site meets both the objectives of stakeholders and the needs of users.

The design phase includes creating wireframes, mockups, website information architecture (menu design and structure of site content), visual look and feel (colors, typography, style), and main user flows (how people will navigate the site).

Development

The development phase includes synthesizing all functional requirements, selecting the appropriate technologies to use for implementation, setting up a development environment using our own hardware and software, and installing any required themes or plugins. This development environment is our testing ground and is non-indexable so that our team and the client’s team can work on and review the site before it goes live. The development phase also includes integrating the client’s CRM of choice, email marketing, and donation capabilities.

Delivery

Prior to launching any website, our team will perform a final round of tests to ensure that the website works smoothly on all modern mobile and desktop browsers, ensuring your users will have the best possible experience. We also put in place security features to protect the site, Google ReCaptcha, and Google Analytics.

Once everything is approved, we launch the site. We perform a website handoff that includes a training session on how your communication team can update the website’s content. Website documentation is provided to ensure you can maintain and edit your site in the future.

Support

CH Web Agency offers a service-level agreement for our clients, which includes updating the website’s plugins and core CMS (content management system) once per month and testing the website to make sure the new updates do not cause any issues. If there are critical security updates, the updates will be pushed as soon as they become available.

We monitor the website and are notified immediately if it were to go offline for any reason. Our team also monitors form submissions to ensure that new leads are being captured.

We offer support services to analyze what users are doing on the site by monitoring heat maps, screen recordings, and interactions with our designs using hotjar. Our team uses GTMetrix reports to analyze and find potential website performance roadblocks and implement solutions to improve website performance.

Have more questions about launching a nonprofit website?

CH Web Agency designs and builds accessible, responsive, and nonprofit-optimized WordPress websites. Our cross-functional team is ready to assist you in strategizing the design and development of your new website.

CH Web Agency is an experienced and qualified vendor for nonprofits. We offer web design, UX design, graphic design, and development services to nonprofit organizations local to North Carolina and across the United States.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you launch a website that meets the requirements of your grant or organization and bring your vision online. Let’s start a conversation.