Category Archives: Web Development
June 13, 2012, 10:58 am
To reach people in their 20s and early 30s, the most important thing nonprofits can do is to make sure their Web sites are easy to read on a mobile device and not overly cluttered, says a survey of more than 6,500 young people released Tuesday.
About 65 percent of respondents said they liked to learn about a nonprofit through its Web site, compared with 55 percent who said they turned to social networks, e-mail newsletters (47 percent), print (18 percent), and face-to-face conversations (17 percent).
Other findings from the survey, conducted by two consulting companies, Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle, and Associates:
Keep e-mail newsletters short and to the point. Members of focus groups conducted with the survey said they were more likely to read short, focused e-mails than long messages. About 65 percent of young people said they wanted e-mails to give them news about the…
May 31, 2012, 9:43 am
As more and more people rely on smartphones and tablets to get information, nonprofits must figure out the best way to make sure their Web sites display information just as well on the small screen as on computers.
Some groups have been creating special mobile versions or apps that work on different types of phones and tablets, but with the dizzying array of new technology, that process is complicated and expensive. That’s why a new approach is gaining popularity.
Called responsive design, the goal is to build a Web site that automatically recognizes the device or screen size a viewer is using. When you call up one of these sites on an iPhone, for instance, it instantly displays material using dimensions of the phone’s screen. When that same site is viewed on a laptop computer or a tablet, everything is shown in bigger dimensions. And nobody—not the viewer or the nonprofit—has …
April 30, 2012, 3:14 pm
If your organization’s Web site isn’t up to speed, you could be losing donors and other supporters. But a free online tool, Google’s Page Speed, can help offer a quick analysis of the code on your site to determine whether it is loading as quickly as it can and offers recommendations for changes that can add zip to a sluggish site.
Those recommendations also come with a Page Speed score designed to show how much a site can improve. The score doesn’t measure the actual time it takes for a site to load on a computer screen, because that is influenced by the size of a page in bytes, server hardware, and other factors. But it does help gauge whether a site is performing as well as it can.
Sites that need significant improvements score below 50 out of 100. If a site is more modern, with best practices in place, it will probably score in the 80s or 90s.
The top 25 charities…
April 19, 2012, 10:39 am
Nonprofits can gather expansive amounts of information about their online visitors by using free programs like Google Analytics.
But how much of this information is really important—especially for groups that have limited time to track and analyze data about viewers?
Joanna Miles, online campaign organizer at Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group, says nonprofit leaders should be selective about what they track.
“If we’re never going to use that data, I don’t want to track it,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s just more noise in our content reports.”
For nonprofits that use Google Analytics, Ms. Miles recommends they use a tool called Goals, which can track how many views a…
November 16, 2011, 12:35 pm
Until this summer, Compassion International had a Web site in need of a makeover. The Christian aid charity hadn’t redesigned the site since 2003, and in the world of online communications, eight years is a long time.
As a result, the organization faced a series of limitations that are common among groups using outdated Web tools. Staff members had little control over the site’s content. And its system for collecting online donations was dated, which meant the organization was missing opportunities to raise money from viewers.
“We always had a lot of ideas, but our content-management system at the time really limited us in what we could do,” said Dustin Hardage, the charity’s Web and interactive director.
But thanks to an update in June, the number of visits to the site has grown by 25 percent, traffic from search engines has risen 28 percent, and page views have increase…
July 27, 2011, 10:35 am
DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit that makes it easy for teachers to create online appeals to raise money for classroom trips and equipment, now has dozens of new tools to help potential donors—and all were developed at no cost.
Among those tools are a map that shows donation “arrows” arriving at their destination over time; an iPhone app that collects and displays local projects in need of support; and a service that suggests projects to recommend to Twitter followers based on their location.
While other organizations, nonprofit or not, would pay considerable fees for these tools, developers and data artists created them free as entries in…
June 1, 2011, 10:20 am
Over Memorial Day weekend, a group called LulzSec hacked into PBS’s Web site and posted this image, saying that it was angry about the network’s broadcast of a documentary on WikiLeaks.
LulzSec said it broke into PBS’s servers by taking advantage of a security hole in an older version of the content-management system Movable Type. It then took advantage of out-of-date software on PBS’s servers so it could gain access to the user names and passwords of PBS’s administrators, member stations, journalists, and other staff members by using a map of the site’s servers.
The situation highlights the need for organizations to make sure their content-management systems are up-to-date, said Steven Backman, chief executive …
April 15, 2011, 3:20 pm
DonorsChoose is inviting programmers and analysts to steal its data.
The charity Web site, which helps teachers publicize classroom projects for which they need financial support, this week opened its database to Web developers and data analysts, challenging them to build useful tools with its information as part of a contest that it hopes will bring new attention to its work.
The contest, called Hacking Education: A Contest for Developers and Data Crunchers, will award winners for best information graphic, best application built in each of five programming languages, and in one wild-card category. One grand-prize winner will also appear on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.
The contest is the first idea put into practice from a recent “social hackathon,” a Microsoft-sponsored event that brought together 30 online media experts who worked on ideas to help the charity make…