I wince every time I see an organization that has spent $500 or $1000 on a website when there are free (and superior) alternatives. Here’s how you create a professional quality website in less than an hour.
Go to http://www.wordpress.com and click “sign up now.”
Choose a website address and click “no thanks” for free version.
Note that you might not get your first choice on the free wordpress.com site. I tried each of the following names, but they were already taken: crunk, junkmonkey, beansprout, cheesedoodle, brainsprout, megadude, rantingjerk, storyland, and storymap, before deciding on storymapping.wordpress.com for this tutorial.
Notice how I chose a “bad” password – wordpress requires you to try again:
WordPress will send you an email. Login to your webmail and click on the activation link. While you are waiting for that email, you can answer three questions about yourself and “Save profile”:
Type your real first name, last name, and a sentence about yourself. If you are creating an NGO website, you should describe your role at this organization in the “about yourself” section. Don’t forget to click “SAVE PROFILE” in the big orange button before continuing.
Activate your blog by clicking the link in your email. Mine is below:
You’re getting closer now! At this point, the blog that will become your organization’s official website is visible on the Internet, but totally generic.
You need to customize it. Login to your website’s dashboard.
Login to your website’s “dashboard.” You will always log into your dashboard using this page, so BOOKMARK IT!
Take the URL for your website, such as “http://storymapping.wordpress.com” and add “wp-login.php” to the end of it, to make “http://storymapping.wordpress.com/wp-login.php.” This is your login page.
Before you do anything else, connect your blog (website) to your organization’s Facebook page. (and twitter if you have an account):
First scroll down to “SETTINGS” and click it. A new sub-menu will open up. Now click SHARING. (In the future I’ll abbreviate this process as Settings –> Sharing)
Click the Facebook logo to connect this blog to Facebook.
This will publicize your organization’s posts by creating a “status update” summary of them each time you post a new message. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT! Most organizations falsely assume that because something is on the Internet (such as their website), that people will find it. NOT TRUE! The way that people find your website is because you promote it on social media (like twitter and Facebook) and through word of mouth – telling people about it.
Twitter is better for attracting people to your website whom you do not already know. Twitter is part of web searching.
Facebook is better for alerting your friends (and people you already know) that there is some news to read on your blog (which will be your organization’s website).
Log into your Facebook account now:
You can also click “sign up for facebook” right now if you haven’t yet. DO IT! Your website will never get any visitors if you keep it isolated.
Repeat that process with twitter, and sign up for an account if necessary:
You should read me blog on twitter for part-time users to understand what twitter is for:https://chewychunks.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/twitter-tools-for-part-time-users/
Now that you are connected to social tools, choose a new THEME for your website. Click Appearance –> Themes:
Next: Choose a good THEME. This is the magic step that transforms a regular “blog” (i.e. place where a person writes opinions) into a professional looking organization website.
Here are some good organization (NGO) websites that are built on WordPress’s free software:
Amazingly, only 5 of the 1200 organizations on GlobalGiving use this free tool. I’m very saddened by this.
Below: use the theme browser you will find inside the wordpress admin dashboard (go to Appearance –> themes) to select a theme for your blog:
Use search and enter keywords for the types of features that organization websites typically feature: menu, custom-menu, theme-options, business, and header are important.
All tags include: black, blue, white, two-columns, fixed-width, custom-header, custom-background, sticky-post, translation-ready, microformats, rtl-language-support, editor-style, custom-menu, full-width-template, featured-image-header, featured-images, blog, business, lifestream, photography, bright, clean, elegant, formal, generic, light, minimal, modern
Select a theme to preview:
You can preview a lot of blogs before you activate them. Many themes have “theme options” that you can change later. Bueno, for example, lets you build custom menus and choose a color background of your choice.
Pick a theme that lets your organization highlight it’s mission, location, staff, and contact information at the top as part of a menu. (1st example: Duster theme):
These are the most important things to make visible on your website – so choose a theme with menus so that you don’t hide it.
Here are some recommended themes for NGO and CBO websites:
DO NOT USE:
Note that I have modified the website’s title and “tag line” under Settings –> General. I have also added several PAGES about staff and vision, etc – that appear just below my custom header image.
Elegant Grunge Theme:
Which theme you pick is far less important than connecting your blog to twitter and Facebook. I am showing several themes here primarily because this is what most organizations PAY (and overpay) computer experts to do for them. Clearly, you have dozens of free theme choices on wordpress.com and one is surely good enough to satisfy you.
That said, I use a blank theme (Sandbox) on my ChewyChunks blog, because none of the standard themes satisfied me. (I learned CSS to do this):
On the right side is the unmodified SANDBOX theme. On the left – my customized CSS version.
Lastly, no website would be complete if you didn’t know how to write a post! Click on Post –> Add new on the side column of your dashboard:
Use the wordpress editor to write your posts, just like you would in a regular wordprocessor:
Be sure to click PUBLISH when you are done!
A VERY convenient way to post messages is via EMAIL. Click Dashboard –> My Blogs to create your secret post-by-email address:
Click “My Blogs” under Dashboard, then click ENABLE under the Post by Email section on the right. You can also “post by voice” – where you call a phone number, talk, and it will generate an MP3 message and upload it to your blog.