Continuing this week's series on how you can build a free website for your nonprofit using Wetpaint, today's post is going to give you a guided tour of some sites that other organizations have created. I'm hoping that by showing you how it's already being done, you'll start to see the possibilities for your own site.
Before we get started, though, in case you need convincing that your website is important, take a look at this post from The Agitator. Note, too, that using your site to create an interactive community is a key take-away and one that a few of the organizations in the examples below are addressing. Remember this info as you go through the examples.
The first stop on our tour is Nonprofit Rules, a website example that's probably the closest to our traditional view of an organizational website. As you can see from the graphic, it includes:
- A customized banner at the top.
- Basic site navigation on the left
- Use of tables to set up columns on the site. This is a feature that is available through the edit menu in Wetpaint.
If you scroll to the bottom of the home page, you'll see a few other features:
- Visitors can leave comments on any page in the site, so Nonprofit Rules can use a page to also ask questions or for feedback.
- Nonprofit Rules can reply to visitor comments to engage in a two-way conversation with visitors.
- They can also include attachments to any page in the site. So for your organization, for example, this can mean uploading a brochure that is available for visitors to download.
The Nonprofit Rules site is a good example of a site that is primarily controlled by the organization. Visitors can comment and ask questions, but they aren't actually contributing to the creation of the site. For many nonprofits, this will be the preferred mode of operation, although there are some other options, as you'll see in the next two examples.
The next site on our tour is WikiFido. This site is more of a community-operated website and is closer to the collaborative vision of using a wiki to develop site content with other people. You'll see that they include:
- A banner that is a combination of a Wetpaint design template (the bubble motif) and their own WikiFido logo. Not super fancy, but it still looks decent.
- The ability for members to "join" the site. This means they can get automatic RSS updates when the site is updated. (Learn more about RSS here.) They can also contribute to those pages that the site organizers have set up for that.
- A "locked" front page--With Wetpaint, you can decide which pages can be added to by visitors and which can't. This gives you some flexibility and the opportunity to be creative in setting up pages that invite reader participation. So the Home page is locked and can only be edited by the site administrators. But members can also create pages to feature their own doggy friends.
Further down on the home page, you can see how the WikiFido creators invite visitor participation with polls, invitations for reader comments and opportunities for activism on behalf of their cause. You can also see how there is a focus on creating a community of dog-lovers who support dog rescue, not on raising money or reporting on specific events.
Like Nonprofit Rules, WikiFido also allows for comments on each page and attachments can be included as well. They also use the table layout, like Nonprofit Rules, to segment parts of their home page and make extensive use of photos to further attract readers to the cause. Who wouldn't love these cute little dogs and want to do something to help?
The last site on our tour is WikiCancer, a cancer support site. It's set-up is very similar to the WikiFido site, but has a couple of additional features I want to highlight. The graphic also shows you one of the downsides of Wetpaint--advertisements.
As you can see from the graphic below, WikiCancer uses another interactive feature--a page where visitors are invited to respond to a "Featured Question." They also have RSS feeds set up on their site. The "feeds" are automatically pulling updated news stories from another cancer-related site so that as that news is updated, it is also updating on the WikiCancer site.
The one downside to Wetpaint that you can see in this graphic is that advertisements will appear on each page of your site. This is what keeps Wetpaint free for your use though, so it's something you'll have to live with.
One other thing that you can't see in these graphics is that both WikiFido and WikiCancer are using their own domain names, rather than a Wetpaint domain name. I'll show you on Friday how you can set up this option for your own site.
Now that you've seen a snapshot of three nonprofit sites created through Wetpaint, here's your homework for today:
- Visit each of the sites and go through several pages.
- Make a list of the features that you like and that you'd like to include in your own site.
- Make a list of the features that you don't like and that you want to make sure you don't include.
- Come up with a list of questions you may have about the different features, including any features that you'd like to have but aren't sure you can add with Wetpaint. Then email me or leave me a note in comments so that I can address any questions you may have as we finish out the week.
- Keep working on the content you want to include in your own site. You'll need it for Thursday.
Up tomorrow, I'll have a screencast that will show you how to get started with Wetpaint.