Tuesday, 24 September 2013 07:00

iMacYour non-profit started with a dream, a heap of passion, and, most likely, very limited resources. When it launched, you knew your organization needed a website, but having no budget to allocate to your site, you identified an eager volunteer with some web experience to help you design and launch your first site.

A few years later, your organization is in full stride, affecting change in the world, constantly bringing new awareness to the issues and people you serve, and discovering a steady stream of finances from donors. Your organization is doing what you dreamed it would, but your website is very little changed from that initial site created by that initial volunteer. The images on your site are out-of-date. It  doesn't have some features you really need like online donations or a blog. Some of the content probably hasn't been updated in far too long. Even if you mustered up the courage to try to tackle these issues yourself, you have little to no idea of how to make changes on the site.

It's time for a new website.


So, you're ready to give your website a much-needed facelift. You're excited about the possibilities and can already imagine the feedback from donors and volunteers as they set their eyes on your beautiful and functional new site. But where do you begin? There are a multitude of options to consider from site structure to design-style to what features are really important. You want this change to matter, to be effective, and you want to make sure you're devoting your limited resources to the best new site possible. From our experience building websites for non-profits over the past 7 years, we've put together a few tips to consider when considering a redesign of your website. They will give you a starting point and launching pad with which to approach your redesign with confidence.

Here's some things to consider when planning to redesign your non-profit website: 

1.) Clearly define the goals for your new website


The first question that should be asked when planning a re-design of your non-profit website is, "What do we want our new site to do for for us?". Far too often, websites are built primarily focused on visual design and orgnizational information. What results is an online brochure for your non-profit.  While this can be a great starting point, your website can (and should) do so much more for your organization. Make specific (and measurable) goals for your new website. Should it attract new donors? Should it increase your donations by allowing new ways for your donors to participate? Will it generate new leads for volunteers, partners, and/or donors? Will it provide resources to the community you serve? Establishing the specific goals for your site will help shape the design and development of your new site. Start your re-design here and make a list of the top 3-5 goals for your new site.  Number them accordingly to priority.

2.) Determine an appropriate budget to devote to the project


A quality and professional website for your organization will be an expense. It's one that your organization will need to plan and budget for.  But all websites don't cost the same - and even if they did, you don't want the same website as everyone else. To be effective, your organization deserves a website that is uniquely crafted to fit it's organizational and brand goals. When working with a web design company, the project cost is directly related to the amount of hours of work your project will require.  he depth of the pre-design process, the number of features in your site, and the number of revisions to your design all contribute to the final cost of the project. Each web design company is different in how they approach a project and thus the quoting of the project. To avoid disappointment and to streamline your re-design, determine a budget range that your organization can afford to devote to your re-design project. As you get quotes from a few companies, don't be afraid to start the conversation with your budget number. You should be able to tell which companies will try to take advantage of your budget and which ones will work with you to create a website that is customized to fit your needs within your budget.


3.) Determine your primary audience(s)


Whether you use the term "marketing" within your organization or not, your website is a marketing tool. It's most likely the first place people interested in your organization will go in search of answers about who you are, what you do, and your credibility as an organization. Any marketing effort should start by identifying who the intended audience is. It's no different with your website. You should try to identify who comes to your current site and which groups of people, who aren't currently visiting your website, you would like to engage with your new website. Should your website target the community and inidividuals you serve? Should it focus on your donors? Should it focus on potential donors? Identifying your target audience for your new site will have a profound effect on everything from the design chosen to the navigation structure to the included features. Narrow down a list of the top 3 audiences who will visit your new site and spend a few moments trying to put yourself in their shoes. What would they expect from your new site? What features would benefit them? What sort of look and feel would best fit their expectations?


4.) Think long-term


As you launched your first website, likely, the singular goal was to "get somethign online". Little or no thought was on crafting a website that would last and be relevant for years. This time around, focus on the next 5 years. If possible, build your new site using a Content Management System, such as Wordpress or Joomla.  A CMS platform will allow for regular updates to keep your site secure and up-to-date. Additional features are available from 3rd party vendors and can usually easily and quickly be "plugged-in" to your system. Since these platforms use templating systems, you are free to  change and update the visual design of the site as often as you'd like without a complete website overhaul. A new design template can be created and easily added to your system. And perhaps the best feature of all is that these systems are built to make updating the textual content of your website's pages in-house simple and intuitive. Even if you don't plan on updating your site yourself now, you may have a volunteer or staff member in the future who can handle these updates with ease. Try to build a website that will last and that is able to grow as your organization grows. 


5.) Commit to the continual development of your website


While we're talking about building your new website for the long-term, it's also important that your organization commits the continual growth and development of your site. The slogan "Set it and forget it" is not a good strategy for your organization's website. Visitors to your site will appreciate regular news, updates on your work, and insights from organizational leadership. You don't need to overhaul your site to keep people interested, but simple news updates, blogs, and event listings will reinforce to your visitors that your site is of continual value.  If you don't have someone in your organization who can be responsible for the updating and development of your site, many web design companies offer a mangement service for your site.  At MethodLab, we work with our clients to determine the best ways to keep their site updated and relevant and offer a site management service to help them meet these goals.  However you choose to keep your site updated and current, make sure to schedule some regular time to devote to your website.  Even an hour or two a month can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your website.



Tackling a re-design is a good deal of work.  In many cases, it's a more substantial project that getting your initial non-profit website online was. But it doesn't have to be an unpleasant or difficult task.  In fact, redesigning your organization website should breathe new life in your website as it communicates the development of your organization and reminds your donors and those you serve of the passion and excitement that gave birth to your organization in the first place.  As you approach your new website, the possibilities are endless, but the 5 tips above can help you focus your redesign before you jump in.  They will help to make the process quicker, easier, and often, less expensive as you are able to start the conversation with a web design company having already answered many of their inital questions.

At MethodLab, we specialize in designing and developing websites for non-profits. Over the past 7 years, we've built websites for non-profits of all types and have helped them better tell their stories through the web. Along with web design & development, we also offer website management and video production services specifically tailored for the unique needs of non-profits.  We'd love to work with you on your non-profit's website design project and will build a custom web solution to fit your needs and your budget.  

To discuss your project or to get a custom quote, please contact us or call us at 602.904.6540.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013 07:00
By keeping our production lean and leveraging streamlined workflows, we can produce short films for non-profits on a budget that's in their reach.  And we can do this with a high production value, producing quality, beautiful films at an affordable rate.  As we continue to launch our film production services to the non-profit community, we're launching our Non-Profit Fundraising Package: the start-to-finish production of short films that help non-profits better tell their stories to the world.

We're really excited to launch this new package to the non-profit community and are looking forward to the many moving stories that we can help tell.

To view the complete details, learn more about our Fundraising Package
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:00

We have yet to meet a non-profit leader who doesn't love the idea of utilizing video to better tell the story of their organization and the communties they touch. In the past, the cost to produce a video has been beyond the reach of most non-profits and thus video storytelling has remained a dream for many non-profits. But as new technolgy and methods in video production have emerged, the cost of producing quality video has decreased significantly. While the expense is still a significant investment for non-profits, below are 5 reasons why we believe the expense is a worthwhile one:

1. Video serves as a product you can pass on to your donors.


As a non-profit, your stories of change are your product.  With the support of your donors, your organization works to affect change within the community it serves. While you relationship with your donors is distinct from a for-profit's relationship with it's customers, your donors deserve to be rewarded as well.  A video that beautifully and powerfully tells the story of your work, gives your donors the opportunity to feel more deeply connected to the work of your organization and to share the story of your organization with pride.

2. Video engages your audience on a deeper emotional level


Well-written stories can be powerful, but video has the power to bring your audience into the story in a unique way.  Video visually introduces your audience to those you serve, your volunteers, and your staff.  They can see the work you're doing instead of simply imagining it.  Video allows your audience to feel as if they are there along side of you as you serve your community.  And a well-produced video tells your story with multiple layers - from a moving piece of music, to a series of breathtaking shots - all inviting your audience to see (and feel) what you do in ways they hadn't imagined.

3. Video creates new opportunities for fundraising


Invite the press and your community members to a screening of a mini-documentary telling your organization's story.  Host a donor event that showcases a new film about one particularly powerful success story.  Include a video to launch an online campaign to crowdfund a new project.  Submit a video along with a grant application to increase your chances at securing new funding.  The opportunities are endless and our clients are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to leverage the videos we create for them.

4. Video helps you reach new audiences


89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos today. By 2016, video will make up over 50% of all internet traffic.  Online video sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and others offer new opportunities to gain exposure for your non-profit by adding your videos to their databases of watchable (and searchable) content.  Introduce your non-profit to potential donors you didn't even know exist.

5. Video brings a new level of humanity to your work


We all love a great story and video has become one of the primary ways in which we best experience story.  Video is an immersive experience that involves our eyes, ears, heart, and mind.  Video tells your story is a way in which your audience can relate and sympathize - leading to greater possibilities of their engagement of your work.


Producing a video to tell your non-profit's story is a fresh, powerful, and effective way to deepen the engagement of the public with the work of your non-profit.   As the cost of producing high-quality videos for non-profits has come down, it's a great time for your non-profit to consider adding video as a way to better tell it's story of change.
Monday, 09 September 2013 14:00
In the spring of 2013, Little Hooves & Big Hearts approached us to help them produce a short film that they could use to help the public better understand the amazing work that they do with seniors and children with disabilities. With 11 miniature horses, a staff of certified equine-therapists, and a beautiful facility in Oracle, AZ, LHBH wanted to tell it's story to more people.

Over the next few months, we worked closely with LHBH, to produce, Madison's Story - the story of 13-year old Madison Harper's experience working with the horses of LHBH.  Madison's improvement has been remarkable as she's developed a unique bond with the animals.

Madison's Story is one of both challenges and triumph. Diagnosed with a number of severe developmental conditions, Madison's family sought out the help of Little Hooves & Big Hearts. Through the use of equine-assisted therapy, Madison has experienced incredible improvements in all aspects of her life, showing that equine therapy does indeed change lives.

Shot & edited by Zack Newsome.
Music licensed from The Music Bed.

For more information on the work of Little Hooves & Big Hearts, please visit littlehooves.org.
Sunday, 07 August 2011 18:00

Pacifica Charters is a fishing and yacht charter service located in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Mexico.  The Pacifica Charters fleet includes a 96ft luxury yacht for daytrips & week-long explorations of the Sea of Cortez, as well as a 45ft championship fishing boat for those more interested in bringing home the big one.  Located within a 4-hour drive from Phoenix, Puerto Penasco, is a Mexican resort town that grows in popularity each year.

We worked with Pacifica Charters to design a visual identity and a website that would help them market their charter services as well as facilitate the booking of their yachts.  With offices based in Phoexni and an operations team on site in Mexico, it was important for Pacifica Charters to have an online presence that allows soon-to-be-visiting vacationers the chance to explore their options with PAcifica Charters and book well in advance of their trip.

website:
www.pacificacharters.com

services:
identity design, web design & development
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 08:14
Brion Inman of DANG!media brings his experience in reality television to businesses looking for fresh ways to connect with consumers.  DANG!media produces web-focused video content that captures the personality and values of brands in a way that helps consumers connect with their brand. 

Methodlab is excited to partner with DANG!media to help their clients showcase these videos on the web and through the use of social media. As a beginning of this partnership, we designed a site for DANG!media that highlights the video-centric nature of their business.  Utilizing video backgrounds, a minimalistic design, and a video portfolio, DANG!media's new site allows them to put their amazing work on display for clients and potential clients alike.

website:
www.dangmedia.com

services:
Web Design & Development
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 18:01
CRM Empowering Leaders approached us to design and develop an internal communications piece to help their US-based staff stay connected to one another.  The piece, called “uncovered”, would be a collection of stories, announcements, and resource links sent to all domestic staff on a monthly basis.  It was important for piece to combine simplicity (for their central staff to be able to administrate the piece on-site) with elegance (that would communicate their commitment for staff to be connected & supported while working remotely).

We approached the project with careful attention both to CRM’s current brand, as well as their future brand direction, to create a design that wrapped their staff stories in an aesthetic that evoked curiosity without stealing attention from the content of the stories.  In mid-July, the first edition of uncovered was sent out via an html-email that linked to the site with the full articles.

UnCovered v2


Services:
Web Design & Development, html-email design
Sunday, 20 September 2009 17:58
At MethodLab Media, we love twitter.  We use it daily and we’re often dreaming up news ways that we can take the simplicity of the service and use it in creative ways.  We also love playing a role in the community of people & businesses that make up our neighborhood and our city. We wondered if we could build a tool that used localized twitter feeds to help people connect with others near them and to stay informed about what’s going on in their local community.  Thus PHXTweets was born.

PHXTweets.com allows a visitor to view a live-updating local feed of twitter users in the Phoenix-metro area.  This gives them exposure to people and conversations they might not have access to or be aware of.  Our hope is PHXtweets inspires it’s users to use social media like twitter and a way to enhance the way they interact and participate with others in their local context.

Services:
Web Design, custom PHP/Javascript development, identity/branding
Sunday, 20 September 2009 17:55
Noble Intuition is a apparel start-up that asked us to design their website.  They wanted a web presence that would communicate something more than simply showcasing their designs.  They desired a site that communicated the lifestyle of their clothing line and it’s wearers along with the standard shopping cart solution.

Our work included an affordable shopping cart solution with an integrated blog feature all styled in a site design that was simple, yet elegantly spoke of the lifestyle of their customers.  The end product was a incredibly intuitive, easy-to-use product that this new company can rely on to help them get their products to the masses while building the ethos and character of their brand.

Services:
Web Design, html/css development
Sunday, 20 September 2009 17:50
After an initial successful project in Uncovered, CRM asked us to develop a new site that would be the main hub of information for their upcoming World Conference in Malaysia. Less than a year away, the conference serves as an “every-four-years” gathering of their entire staff across the planet. As the WWC is a major event that shapes the future direction of the organization, it was important to CRM to create a well-designed, intuitive site that their global staff could access for conference details. Use of Twitter, a blog for news updates, an RSS feed, and a custom html-email template were all a part of the package we produced for the event.

As with all of our projects, we designed this solution with their administrative team in mind. The content is easily accessible via an administrative section and the entire site can be edited in-house without a need for knowledge of html.

Services:
Web Design & Development, html-email design
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