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NationBuilder Themes at a Glance

Submitted by Kate on July 29, 2011 - 10:48am

NationBuilder comes with a number of great themes, most with different sub-styles. To get a sense of what some of these look like, we took some screenshots on a test page. These are not by any means all of the sub-styles, just one per theme, so there are additional colors, fonts, and more for each of these. We also included a slideshow for each one, but that is optional. Let us know if you have any questions or want to get started building your nation!

Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version (NOTE: for the Resolve theme, I took two pictures, so you can see "below the fold," or what you would see if you scrolled down a bit.)

Email Design Best Practices

Submitted by Kate on July 26, 2011 - 7:45pm

As someone who learned HTML and CSS in the 2000s, it's really hard for me to give up my CSS and code in tables. But the more I design and create email templates, the more I realize that I need to get over this complex. Here are some more best practices that I've learned about designing, coding, and sending emails.

Keep It Simple

I've designed really complex email templates before, usually at the request of a client. While they always end up looking pretty good, I can never get them to look perfect in all email clients, and it takes a long time to do all that testing and make sure everything looks good. All of those images, fonts, and colors look totally different in Gmail than they do in Lotus and totally different in Yahoo than Apple Mail for iPad. And really, within each of those email programs, there are a ton of settings that will change the way an email looks. Some people block images and some people block all HTML markup.

Successfully Promoting Stories

Submitted by Ropo on July 20, 2011 - 1:52pm

Many advocacy organizations are using the power of personal stories to both build community around a specific issue, as well as to sway policy. After developing the story tool on your website to both collect and display stories, you need to get the word out!

Online Campaign

Public Profiles on NationBuilder

Submitted by Jerimee on July 13, 2011 - 2:56pm

When you create your website on NationBuilder, as supporters sign up the system automatically generates a public personal profile page for that user. This page shows all of the actions the user has taken on the site, as well as their Facebook and Twitter profiles (as long as they have linked them to their account).

This public profile allows users to interact with each other in a number of ways. When users promote your site to their Facebook and Twitter feeds or in an email, NationBuilder gives them credit in the form of Political Capital when their friends visit the site. Political Capital allows you, as well as other users, to see which followers are most influential and best at recruiting followers to your site. Users can also find other friends who have linked their social networking sites to their accounts. Public profiles function as a means of finding other posts by a particular user, see whether they've pledged their support, made suggestions, etc.

Maximizing Volunteer Recruitment and Coordination

Submitted by Ropo on June 27, 2011 - 7:22pm

Communication and task management are really the keys to cultivating and maximizing volunteers and community involvement. It is sad for a volunteer to signup and never be followed up with. It might be even sadder when they are followed up with in a generic way, but then are never put to work or really engaged.

That said, the first thing is that folks who sign up to volunteer should definitely be followed up with somehow - in a personal and timely manner.

For the sake of the staff tasked with coordinating volunteers, the workflow for who will follow-up and how should be clearly defined. Once you've got the workflow, then when there is a need for recruitment, you can begin to promote your volunteer recruitment efforts, online and off. I wouldn't proactively ask for people to sign up until you are ready to follow-up with them and have at least 3-4 ways to engage them.

The good thing is there are various ways and levels to engage folks. It has to be a good fit for the community and the staff involved, so it is manageable at every step.

Case Statements: a better way to organize your NationBuilder sidebars

Submitted by Kate on June 15, 2011 - 2:08pm

Have you played with NationBuilder yet? It's lots of fun and really exciting for everyone who does online outreach, fundraising, etc. We've been doing a lot of great things with Nation Builder, and learning a lot on the way.

This blog post updates our previous blog post about customizing sidebars with Liquid markup language.

We're new to Liquid, so we thought we would try some cool logic to have more than one sidebar. Since we're most familiar with PHP, we used if/else statements. This is fine if you plan on having the main sidebar and one variation, but the PHP-style elseif statement we were counting on for multiple variations does not work in Liquid. But never fear, because we've got a great solution to have a bunch of custom sidebars. Get your text editors ready.

Using font-face for great typography

Submitted by Kate on June 15, 2011 - 12:03pm

Let's get this out of the way: I'm a huge typography nerd. So if I seem strangely enthusiastic about fonts and kerning and ligatures and serifs... it's because I am.

Fonts are fun, and the right typographical elements can really make your website stand out. Keep in mind, however, that using too many different fonts or really outrageous novelty fonts can look really bad. Make sure that your content is readable, and that the typography is appropriate for what you are doing. Just because something is fun or funny doesn't mean you should automatically use Comic Sans. In fact, let's just agree not to use Comic Sans.

Fonts are also really difficult and painstaking to design and produce with quality. So please make sure that you are using the font in keeping with the designer's wishes. Some fonts are not legally available to embed, and some have licenses that must be registered or purchased for use. If you have any doubts or questions, a quick email to the designer couldn't hurt!

Using Convio to Enhance Functionality

Submitted by Brad on June 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Richir Outreach used the CMS Convio to add interactive functionality to’s existing WordPress site creating a seamless user experience as the site visitors navigate from page to survey, to donation form. RO also used Convio to integrate the organization’s Facebook page to its web site to convert “likes” into page visit making members and donations more likely.

For, the client needed an e-mail template they could integrate with their user database to send out easily compiled e-mails that fostered a holistic user experience from platform to platform. Convio also provides tagging capabilities to track the origin of visitors to the site (Facebook, Google, e-mail link, etc.) and their eventual activity once they arrive.