Listen to this website

Amy sml Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Earlier this year the Lloyds Bank UK Digital Index 2017 reported that 100,000 charities are lacking basic digital skills. This is a huge missed opportunity for those charities to increase their online presence, improve efficiency within their organisations and increase their turnover. The study found that charities using social media are 51% more likely to report an increase in donations, and that ‘highly digital’ charities are ten times more likely to save costs. The Charity Digital Code was released in November and aims to tackle some of these issues with a set of guidelines for small and large charities.

One area that many charities and voluntary sector organisations struggle with is maintaining a strong online presence through a website. Even for the reasonably IT savvy, navigating the world of websites and the technical terminology that goes along with it - hosting, content management systems and SEO - can be a confusing and costly minefield, and we are often guilty of throwing around these terms without fully understanding their meaning.

Sometimes it pays to get back to basics. Recently, I decided to purchase a new camera and I found myself so overwhelmed by the options, jargon, technology and reviews online, I couldn’t even narrow my choices down to a handful of cameras. I soon realised that this was probably because I understood very little about the fundamentals of how cameras work. I went right back to square one and learned about how camera lenses operate, what focal length means, how a mirror reflects light into an optical view finder and how a camera sensor size affects the view size of the image captured.

I also realised that I hadn’t asked myself the most basic question – what do I want to use the camera for? Why did I want a camera instead of a smartphone camera (which offers incredible quality today)? Where would I use the camera? Did it need to be a certain size or weatherproof? Armed with my requirements and new-found expertise I was able to ask the right questions and find something suitable.

We can apply the same approach to websites too. The internet is a powerful resource but there are a lot of biased opinions online about what we should and shouldn’t be doing for our online presence. Really we should be asking ourselves; what purpose would a website serve for our organisation? Do we even need a website or is there another way we can reach people online? Who will be responsible for looking after a website that needs regularly updating? What is the budget?

Then we need to find a suitable way to build a website. In an ideal world you find the perfect trusted partner or web developer who will take care of your every need but in reality you will need to take on some responsibility and decision making yourself, particularly when you don’t have a big budget to play with. For this reason it pays to swot up on your basic technical knowledge.

I produced this brief guide in the hope that it will be a useful resource to anyone who is thinking about building a new website for their organisation or improving the visibility of their existing site, from a technical perspective. The advice is drawn from my own experience, is not an exhaustive list and does not include advice about designing an effective website structure, producing engaging content for your website or advice relating to any other online platforms like apps or Software as a Service (SaaS).

Download the guide:

Website tips for charities (pdf)

Please also see our Information Sheets page for further tips and guidance about running your charity or community organisation.