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Thinking about usability: how to get the site you really want (part 2)

Submitted by Kate on June 2, 2011 - 7:12pm

Nonprofits need websites. This is something a lot of people (me included) say and really believe. But nonprofits do not need the same kinds of websites as a band, a for-profit business, or a restaurant. We truly believe in making beautiful, professional, modern-looking websites for our clients. But they need to be simple and, above all, easy to use. If you've ever been to a website with a million pop-up adds and some crazy flash and yellow fonts on beige backgrounds, then you know what I'm talking about when I say usability. People should not have to think to use your website. Here are some elements to keep in mind and think about when you look at a mock-up or wire-frame, or even when you talk to your web designer/developer. Even if you are past this point and into the development stage (or even if you already have a finished product), take a look at your site with a critical, soon-to-be-expert eye.

As always, let us know if you have any questions.

Thinking about usability: how to get the site you really want (part 1)

Submitted by Kate on June 2, 2011 - 7:15pm

Website usability might sound like something only developers and designers should worry about, but having a proactive stance can help you get the most out of your time and money—two things that many nonprofits hold dear. You can read entire books on the subject, but here are some things you can think about and talk with your web-team. They will be super impressed and you will feel like a rockstar.

Before you start development

It's amazing how many organizations go into the process of building a website withouth really understanding why they need a website. Granted, it's not always intuitive, especially if you have strong programming or a great outreach strategy. Here are some questions to help you figure out why you need a website, or even if you need one (Hint: you do).

Importing into NationBuilder

Submitted by Ropo on May 13, 2011 - 9:08am

Importing your contacts into NationBuilder is pretty simple. The interface is simpler and more intuitive than most CRM import interfaces I've seen.

Just save your data as a cvs file, log in to NationBuilder and go to People > Listing > Import. Choose your file and click Upload. Then you'll be asked to match your fields. If your data has a column header, be sure to start the data on line 2 (which seems to be the default). If there is no column header, start on line one, or you'll miss somebody!

Mandatory Fields

One thing you will have to have is at least one the fields that NationBuilder uses to dedupe. These fields are:

  • id
  • email address
  • twitter login
  • twitter id
  • facebook uid
  • phone number
  • pf strat id
  • van id
  • civicrm id
  • state file id
  • dw id
  • meetup id
  • ngp id
  • external id

or in table format (to cut/paste into your workbook):

NationBuilder does everything but make coffee: but is it right for your campaign?

Submitted by Kate on May 11, 2011 - 11:13am

For many advocacy organizations and campaigns, creating an online presence is a daunting task. Now there is a solution that gives non-profits, politicians, and organizers the ability to create quickly a professional-looking site with "a complete set of tools for managing contacts, social media accounts, finances and more."[1]

NationBuilder is the novel combination of a CMS and CRM system created with the mission to bridge the gaps between a website, its leaders/organizers and its supports. The NationBuilder toolkit gives users the ability to create and manage a website (like Drupal or WordPress); to manage supporters and create donation pages, petitions, and more (like Salsa); and to engage visitors and supporters through integrated social media and contact tools.

Tutorial: How to Create a Custom Email Template in NationBuilder

Submitted by Jerimee on May 10, 2011 - 4:54pm
This tutorial is out of date!

First, login to NationBuilder and go to the admin interface.

Navigate to Pages > Theme > New Custom Theme. Enter in a very specific name for your custom theme, like "Email Template, Month/Year," so you'll be able to find it later. Uncheck the box next to "Switch site to your new theme immediately." We don't want this option checked for this purpose. Click "Create," and then your new theme should be ready.

Once your custom theme is created you need to edit it!

To find the theme, go to Pages > Theme > Switch Themes. Scroll to your new custom theme, under the name you chose for it. Click "Edit" next to the name of your custom theme.

Next, click on "Emails" (or Pages > Templates > Emails). Double-check that your custom theme name is still the one you're editing. Click on 'layout_mailing.html' to open it.

Customizing NationBuilder Sidebars

Submitted by Kate on May 5, 2011 - 7:39pm

NationBuilder in its first iteration is a one-size-fits-all solution designed to give advocacy organizations a pre-assembled online campaign headquarters.

While NationBuilder markets itself as a tool that requires no technical skills and prioritizes ease of use over customization, those with web development skills can tailor the system with a little effort.

By default, NationBuilder gives you templates for two global sidebars: one for logged in users and another for visitors who haven't signed in. These sidebars can be turned off for a given page but that's all that can be done. Adding new items to a sidebar is not an option without custom theming. Fortunately, the custom theme system is very accessible. Below, I will take you through the process of adding items to your sidebar.

Drupal for E-Commerce

Submitted by Kate on April 19, 2011 - 3:06pm

I just attended a webinar (online seminar) about using the Drupal content management system for e-commerce. Right now, Drupal offers two solutions for online stores: Drupal Commerce and Ubercart. But why use Drupal for e-commerce?

Drupal, as an open-source content management system, is supported by thousands of developers across the world. This community of developers has created over 9,000 modules for Drupal, for tasks and processes that range from obscure to everyday. Similarly, if a Drupal user needs a module or needs a feature added to an existing module, the communication between Drupal developers and users is open and inviting.

Modules expand the basic capabilities of Drupal, including Commerce and Ubercart. Some interesting capabilities are:

Views Finder

Submitted by Kate on March 2, 2011 - 7:04pm

We are actually asked about custom searches fairly often. Most of the time we can do something simple to accommodate the needs of a client, but this instance was a bit different.

New York Communities for Change requested a mini-site that would allow users to search for their school to see if it had been tested for a particular contaminant called PCB. Not being familiar with the different names of New York schools, we thought this would be another extremely simple search.

We used the Drupal module called Finder, which can search through views or pages for terms. Using CCK, we created a "school" content type and added a field for synonyms that users might search. For instance, if a school had the name "I.S. 141 The Steinway," we would add synonyms for "IS 141," "I.S. 141," and "The Steinway." However, if someone typed in "Steinway," they were shown a no results page. Also, if they typed in "PS" they were just taken to the first result rather than shown a list of possible results.