We give you a simple and easy guide to effectively using WordPress
Every charity needs a website. It’s your virtual shop front – telling the world what you do and why you do it.
Your website has the potential to be an impressive digital tool but creating one needn’t be overly complicated or expensive. There are plenty of website building platforms out there, which are great for smaller charities with tight budgets and limited tech knowledge.
WordPress, in particular, is great if you want an economical yet professional looking site without paying the earth. In fact, 43% of the web uses WordPress to create their websites.
While you can get going on WordPress for free, costs rise depending on how many extras you want to pay for, such as some plug-ins (to add extra functionality) or themes (pre-built designs). For a straightforward site, you can expect to pay from nothing to around £50 a month.
Here are a few simple steps to help get you started.
It’s easy to get overexcited about what you want your website to look like. But take the time to pin down exactly what you want it to do. This purpose will feed into how it functions, which then feeds into design – but purpose comes first. And this guidance will help you to start thinking about how to structure your website.
Every website needs a host – the server that stores the site’s data. And for people to be able to find your website, you need a domain name.
Here you have a choice to make. WordPress has two key offerings: ‘self-hosted’ (WordPress.org) and ‘hosted’ (WordPress.com). The hosted option means that you can arrange your domain name and hosting all through WordPress. However, this limits what you can do with your site and what’s available to you.
For maximum freedom and flexibility to adapt your website the way you want to, it’s best to go for WordPress.org. This which means you’ll need to arrange your own hosting and domain name.
There are plenty of options to do this, some of the most popular are GoDaddy or Bluehost. Both offer specific WordPress support and basic packages start at around £4 a month.
Think carefully about your domain name as changing it further down the line can be complicated. It needs to be easy to memorise, short, and hard to get wrong (using unusual spellings, for example, could make it difficult for visitors to find you).
You can usually buy your domain name through whoever you choose to host your site. Again, this isn’t expensive and you’ll be looking at up to £10 per year.
If you’ve chosen to self-host, then you’ll need to install WordPress to connect your new domain to your website. Most hosting providers have a simple process to follow to do this.
Then take some time to look over the WordPress interface to get a sense of how it works and what’s available to you.
WordPress has a huge amount of themes that you can use. And even better, there are lots of themes specifically for charities and not-for-profits which can be customised to exactly what you need. These often include lots of functionality, such as taking donations, for no extra cost.
When choosing your theme, keep in mind your purpose for the site and ask yourself lots of questions. Do you have lots of impactful photos that demonstrate your cause? Will you be writing lots of blogs? Will the content need to be regularly updated? This will help when deciding on the perfect theme for your charity.
You can add content to your website, by adding posts and pages. Pages are for information that won’t change (great for ‘about us’ or ‘services’). Posts are more often used for blogs or articles as they show content in reverse chronological order. Then you can start fleshing out your website with content, images and videos.
It’s likely that you’ll want to install some plug-ins to your site – for example, to create a contact form, add a donations function, or build email newsletters. GiveWP, for example, allows you to take donations through your website and keep track of donors. There is plenty of choice, and more being constantly added, so you’re sure to find what you need.
When you’ve populated your website, ask colleagues to test it – it’s always helpful to have a second (or third) pair of eyes. After that, it can be helpful to ask the opinion of a few trusted volunteers or supporters to see how it works from their point of view.
Clearly this information isn’t exhaustive! WordPress has an ever-increasing offer. When you’re ready to get going, read through the support pages on WordPress itself or visit WPBeginner for lots of helpful information.
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