Our Blog

Category: Charity Web Tips

Posted by

Ben Kemp

Managing Director

Using your blog to its potential – Tips for growing your following

In the article posted recently, ‘Using your blog to its potential  - why writing article’s is so important,’ we looked at the benefits of writing regular and relevant posts on your websites blog. Now if you’re putting time and effort into producing good blog content, you want people to see it, and you may be too impatient to wait for the organic growth of your following.

Within this article, we’ll look at some tips on how to effectively grow your blog following and get people engaging with your content.

1. Work out what you want from a blog following

Identifying what you’re trying to achieve from your blog is paramount. It is what will form the foundations of your blogging strategy, and determine the tone and focus of your writing and the demographic that you’ll be targeting.

The goals that are set for a blog will vary from charity to charity; however, some of the more common reasons you may decide to start blogging will be to:

  • Generate support and donations
  • Communicate good news and success stories with stakeholders
  • Effect change and updates to relevant issues

Determining all of these factors in deciding to blog will give your articles a focus from the offset, and will connect with your demographic more effectively.

2. Linking to your Social Media

Your blog should be a major part of any social networking strategy that you have in place. It may be the case that you have a great following on Twitter and thousands of likes on Facebook and the sharing of your blog articles on these channels can drive significant levels of traffic to your website, thus growing your blog readership, and also potentially bringing in support through donations.

Here at Adept we recommend using bitly.com to shorten urls so that a links can be posted on Twitter.

3. Email Marketing

Utilising your email marketing platform (ours is SmartMail), is a great way of driving traffic to your blog articles. Placing an ‘our latest article’ link in an e-newsletter is a method we’ve used in the past.

This is important as supporters who sign up to the mailing list on your website, may not be so active on the social networks and would therefore miss out on content shared through the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

4. Homepage Feed

When we’re building a website, and a blog is being included within the build, we more often than not recommend that we develop a feed from the blog on to the homepage of the website.

This helps to publicise any new content posted on the blog to regular website users, which is significant as it shows your supporters that the website is current.

Any questions about this post, do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Using your blog to its potential – Why writing articles is so important.

If used to the fullest of its potential a blog can be a great tool for a charity. It can assist with the growth of a donor following, offer a human element to a website, raise exposure of events or campaigns and offer significant SEO benefits.

With a view to aiding charities with their blogging strategy, we’ll look at the benefits of writing regular blog posts.

Firstly, a blog system equips you with the tools needed to establish a voice for your charity. You may post about changes within the sector, industry knowledge, good news stories, recent successes, etc. Over time you will build a following of supporters that will use your blog as a valuable and respected resource for keeping in touch with the development of the charity.

The regular stream of new content being uploaded to the site is something that Google and other search engines favour as they look for websites which are using regularly updated content. When Google crawl your website and blog, they’ll see the regularly updated content being added, which will in turn benefit you in the search engine results pages.

If, after carrying out keyword analysis, you find that you’re not doing so well in certain keywords or search terms, you can target those keywords or terms by writing a blog post around that subject, incorporating some of the keywords within the articles. What may then happen is that the blog article would start to rank, so, in effect, you’ve got your website rankings here, which will result in a rise in website traffic.

As your blog following increases and people start to look to the blog as a resource for charity updates, etc., they may start to reference you or link back to your site through social media and their own personal blogs, which will mean more traffic. We’ll use the example that, you’ve just posted about a recent skydive event and that the charity has raised £XX amount. If 10 people share this on Facebook, 10 retweet on Twitter and then 10 people decide to link to this within their blog posts, you’re going to get traffic back from that.

As well as being great for search engines that crawl your website for new content, blogging will also offer plenty of content to post on the various social networks that your charity may be present on. Some charities may not have the best idea of how to communicate on social networks and resources may be an issue, as managing these effectively does take time, however, by blogging, you’ll already have content ready to post, and promote on the social networks.

One thing that can’t be underestimated is the public perception of the charities personality. A blog is an important tool in imparting the tone and friendly nature of the individuals working for the charity, and therefore the charity on the whole. If the public perceive your charity as friendly, there is a strong probability that you’re more likely to receive support from them as opposed to them visiting the website, and not seeing anything in the way of human interaction. The blog enables you to share with your website visitors and really start developing a charity profile and character besides that supports the brand identity and any external communications that you may or may not have.

The blog is a great place for you showcase any new services that your charity may now be offering. In the past, we’ve experienced clients that through acquisitions or mergers now have to promote additional sites, services or are servicing a whole new area. Obviously, should this occur, you need a quick update for website visitors or supporters and your blog post is a quick way of doing this with a view to following up with more information on the website in the future.

Finally, the management of your reputation is incredibly important. Blogging offers you a place on the website to react positively to any positive or negative PR received over social or any other media. A blog would give you the opportunity to post a positive reply to any Comms that required it.

If you have any questions about how you could utilise a blog system on your website, do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198.


Posted by

Ben Kemp

Managing Director

Why charities need a strong online presence.

As outlined in our previous post Additional and innovative methods of fundraising, charity donations have fallen significantly of late. This has a massive detrimental effect, as the decline resonates throughout the entire sector.

Although we’d like to think that all of us within and on the peripheries of the third sector are working towards a common goal, there is undoubtedly massive competition for any donations, which means that monitoring and staying in touch with giving trends is incredibly important.

With that in mind, we took a look in to the recent ‘Digital Giving Review 2012’ study that ‘Give as you Live’ and the ‘Institute of Fundraising’ have published and in which 500 UK charities took part. The report can be downloaded from here www.giveasyoulive.com/survey.

The executive summary reads:

  • across all charities, online audiences are now as large as traditional offline audiences: 51% online, 49% offline
  • in less than a decade, Facebook and Twitter audiences combined have grown to equal 35% of the overall charity audience
  • yet, despite this rapid growth, online channels represent only 30% of the overall income received, with 70% of charity income still generated through offline channels
  • all charities communicate with their online audiences more frequently than their offline audiences
  • however, larger charities are 1.51 times more likely than smaller charities to communicate daily with their online audiences
  • the primary barriers to successful online fundraising were identified as internal resources (37%) and donor resistance (24%)

The above figures suggest that 30% of the UK’s £9.3bn in charitable donations in 2011/12 were received online, which is a figure of roughly £2.8bn, and still a staggering amount of money.

In conclusion then, it seems that donations are following other online trends and growing at a considerable rate. There is a danger then that some charities, that don’t have a modern, strong online presence, could be missing out on donations and support and ultimately get left behind.

If you have any questions regarding this article, or would like some guidance on your online presence, do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Additional and innovative methods of fundraising.

It’s no secret that the current economic climate in the UK has had an enormous effect on charitable donations over the past few years.

When the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) released the ‘2012 UK Giving report’  back in November, research found that donations in 2011-12 fell by 20% which equated to a fall of £2.3bn.

In reply to these figures, a speaker at the recent NCVO Evolve event said that “charities could make better use of Crowdfunding, targeted marketing and skills sharing.”

The message from this is clear – In today’s climate, charities need to be constantly exploring new ways of securing donations from supporters.

Within this article, we’ll look at a few of the options that are available to charities, that won’t cost the world to set up.

Register with ‘Give as you Live’ or a similar platform

If you are a charity, school or church and not registered with www.giveasyoulive.com or a similar platform, you are missing out on a percentage of your supporter’s online purchases.

Give as you Live works with thousands of online stores, such as Amazon, B&Q , Tesco and John Lewis, that offer to donate a commission to charity on every online purchase.

When installed, Give as you Live highlights any websites which offer support, as can be seen in the image below.

A user will register for an account with Give as you Live and at that point select a charity to support – all commission earned then gets redirected to the charity.

This would offer an additional revenue stream for a charity, and the more people supporting you through these kinds of platform would result in more revenue.

Over £3.5m has already been raised on Give as you Live alone, and this is set to rise alongside the popularity of such giving devices.

Make use of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has been around for a while but is only just starting to gain prevalence within the third sector.

Crowdfunding websites such as www.crowdfunder.co.uk and www.ukcfa.org.uk offer charities, not for profits and social enterprises a platform to pitch a project or campaign to website users. They can then invest as much or little as they want to.

This may not be so relevant for larger charities as this is basically just an extension of a charities website, however, it is an extra avenue of revenue and also will offer more exposure.

Register with Playmob or a similar platform

Projects such as www.playmob.com harness the power of the online gaming industry by offering charities to promote their projects through the website, and allowing gamers to select which game they play to help with a particular project, this works through a service called Giverboard.

Playmob lets charities fundraise by allowing players of online social games to buy virtual items linked to a charity. For example, a tractor bought in a farming game could be linked to a charity which assists with development in the third world.

The method of fundraising can increase engagement by getting in front of mass audiences online, whilst receiving an additional revenue stream.

The below infographic outlines how a user would donate.

If you have any questions about this article do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198.


Posted by

Ben Kemp

Managing Director

Dedicated mobile websites

Following on from the ‘Responsive Web Design for mobile devices’ article, here is some information on dedicated mobile websites.

A dedicated Mobile site is a separate version of your website designed exclusively for mobile usage. This would, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, be totally separate to your desktop website and would be developed similarly to a microsite and be maintained separately.

An example of a dedicated mobile site is www.bbc.co.uk, which when visited on a mobile device will be prefixed with m.bbc.co.uk.

 

 

The difference is, that unlike responsive design, a dedicated mobile website can feature content tailored to a mobile user. Also development of a mobile site is usually a simplified version of a company’s main website, so can be put together fairly quickly, although this depends on what functionality the mobile site requires.

The dedicated mobile website’s main asset is that it can be built alongside a main website which at present doesn’t need any major re-development, so for example if you currently have no plans for a website re-design and you’re afraid of losing out on users that may be trying to access you website via a mobile device, a dedicated mobile site can be produced.

Some pros of a dedicated mobile site:

  • Building a dedicated mobile site is similar to creating a small website or microsite.
  • A dedicated mobile website would use tailor made content for mobile users.
  • Allows a completely unique mobile user experience as has no reliance on the desktop site.

Some cons of a dedicated mobile site:

  • Creates additional website administration by having two sets of content to maintain.
  • There are additional development costs and time over responsive design.
  • Relies on user agent switching to detect mobiles which needs constant updating for new devices.

If you have any questions regarding mobile websites do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198. 


Posted by

Richard Vickers

Account Manager

Responsive Web Design for mobile devices

Recent figures from the Q4-2012 Ipsos Mori Technology Tracker show us that 44% of adult internet users have accessed the internet via smartphones, a figure that has been steadily rising in line with smartphone ownership which is now at around 50% in the UK.

We are very aware that a charity may be risking user engagement and therefore donations by not reacting hastily to user trends so have been recommending that clients consider some kind of mobile optimisation on every new project that we approach and have been retrofitting existing websites that we have built previously with responsive technologies.

Instead of having two separate websites, each having a separate design and needing to be maintained separately, sites that use a responsive design incorporate different styling for different device profiles to make the site fit onto different sized screens, without the need for horizontal scrolling.

A responsive design affects more than just styling however. On a reduced size screen such as a smartphone there is less space for navigation and on-page elements, so certain content may be hidden such as large feature images that are only there for decoration. Certain buttons and adverts used on pages may also be hidden.

In order to make the site responsive, this needs to be considered at all stages of the design, planning and construction process, which is why it’s more difficult and less effective to retrospectively add responsive design.

 The image shows the DMUK website on desktop and repsonive designs

This is an image of the Disabled Motoring UK website that we designed and built, being viewed on both a desktop and mobile device. As you can see, the navigation has scaled down to a ‘menu’ which will open when clicked on within the narrow screen, and some content such as the members login has been omitted.

Some pros of responsive websites:

  • Responsive design simplifies the website navigation leading to an improved user experience, which is paramount when trying to secure support from the website visitor.
  • No increase in website administration as you’d only be updating one Content Management System.
  • You will only have one set of statistics to analyse.
  • Your website will only have one URL, which is great for SEO.
  • It is relatively inexpensive and fairly swift to implement.

Some cons of responsive websites:

  • They are often not as fast as dedicated mobile websites.
  • They are based on exactly the same content as the desktop website, so content can’t be rewritten for a mobile audience.
  • You will have to make some compromises with regards to design and content.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s the continuing development of new technology, which means that smartphones will become even more affordable to a wider proportion of the market, which will bring with it a further rise in mobile website usage.

A mobile user that can’t find the content they are looking for simply and concisely is likely to leave the website along with their donation. Charities can’t afford to lose users and potential supporters by failing to offer a decent mobile website experience, so it makes sense to get on board with this growing trend as early as possible.

If you have any questions regarding responsive design do feel free to drop us an email at hello@adeptdigital.biz or give us a call on 01263 734198.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity website tips - Accepting donations online

Donations are key for every charity, and in the 21st century accepting donations online is just as important. Accepting online donations isn't always that straight forward though, as there are considerable security implications that have to be considered, and different organisations that have to be involved such as banks and payment processing providers.

For small charities there are too many hurdles involved in setting everything up from scratch, which is where services such as Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving are ideal. While there are some setup charges, and limited customisation and integration options, these services allow you to take donations without worrying about the technicalities.

The next step up is to make use of a service such as PayPal as this service is relatively low cost, yet still allows a good amount of flexibility and integration options. Registered charities get large discounts on the payment processing fees through PayPal and there are no standing fees for their standard service. PayPal allows even smaller charities the ability to create flexible and complex payment integration facilities if they are prepared to put the effort into website development work.

The final step for most charities is to move to their own Internet merchant account, with a payment service provider. In some cases these may be provided by the same company. Any bank can provide the Internet merchant account however there can be some hurdles with applications, especially for small or new charities. You then also need the facilities of a payment service provider to handle the payments. Many of these services out the payment pages for you, to handle much of the security aspects, however some allow closer integration. Services such as SagePay, WorldPay and Secure Trading are well known in this area.

Adept are experienced in designing and building websites for charities, both straight forward sites and complex bespoke solutions. Our team of experts are fully versed in developing and running such websites through many years (and decades in some cases) of experience. For advice or to discuss an upcoming project you are considering please get in touch on 01263 734198.

 


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity Web Tip - Effective Social Media for Charities

The benefits of social media for any organisation are often discussed at great length, which in turn encourages more organisations to feel they need to be doing it. This applies as much, if not more so to charities, who see social media as a way to increase support and exposure while decreasing marketing costs.

If you have the time and resources to devote to social media you can see great rewards. Facebook and Twitter are used by many organisations to effectively market to their supporters and potential supporters.

Before you jump straight in, here are some things to consider:

What are your competitors doing?

Every organisation, even charities should be able to identify competitors, or other organisations who market to a similar audience. Look at what social media platforms they are using and what sort of response they get to their content.

Which platform is right for you?

Everyone jumps on Facebook and Twitter, which are the most popular social media networks at the moment, but are these tools appropriate for the type of communications you want to have. Consider whether email marketing or a forum/message board would be more suitable.

Who is your target audience?

You need to have an audience in mind for you social media efforts. Think about how you are going to attract this audience, and whether they are an appropriate demographic for the platforms you have in mind. (For example, Twitter is widely used by younger people, but not so much by older people, who are you marketing to?)

Have a plan?

Effective use of social media doesn’t just happen. Someone in your charity needs to be in charge of monitoring and maintaining pages and posting content to keep your users engaged. Consider how often you want to post, what content your charity has that is appropriate and who actually has the time to do all this.

How will you measure success?

Often simple metrics like “Number of followers on Twitter” are seen as good measurements of success, but does this really fall in line with your charities goals. Having followers or members on a social media platform means nothing if they don’t engage with you, or take action that actually supports your charity such as making a donation or getting involved with an event.

In Summary

Don’t be scared! Social media is difficult to get right, but easy to get started with, and you’ll learn as you go along. If you have the time available to make social media a priority you can make effective use of the tools available.

If you’d like to discuss social media in more depth give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss your options with you, and help you to develop a suitable social media plan.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Top 5 website security tips

1. Keep your software up-to-date

This is especially important if you are using an open source CMS, but is equally important with any software. If new releases of your CMS are available, they probably contain security fixes for new vulnerabilities. If you aren’t up-to-date, someone may try to hack your website.

Don’t just think about your CMS though, are you also using a blog or any plug-ins? These also need to be kept updated, as these are often the cause of security issues. Bespoke code written by inexperienced developers can often be the cause of major security holes that you are completely unaware of until they become a major embarrassment.

2. Your security is only as strong as your password

Avoid using real/dictionary words as a password. Try to include numbers or non-alphabet characters in your passwords where possible.

Never use a word that is on your website as a password, bots will scan your site and try them when they try to crack your password. Simply replacing one or two characters with numbers will merely slow a bot down  a little, especially if you do the obvious (eg password to pa55w0rd). Longer passwords are much more secure against brute force attacks than shorter ones, 9 characters or more is best.

And finally, it shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but I can tell you from experience with clients it is, never use “password” as your password!

3. Keep your password secret and change your password regularly

If you are in any doubt that someone might know your password, change it straight away. When an employee leaves your organisation make sure you reset any passwords they had access to or cancel their named accounts. Even if you parted on good terms, make sure you do this for good measure.

4. Use anti-virus

A virus on your computer can track everything you type and report it back to a hacker. Make sure you don’t get infected by having a good antivirus program installed at all times, and keep it up to date.

5. If you can’t do it well yourself, rely on a professional

While it can be tempting to try to save money by managing the hosting of your website yourself, or managing your own blog or CMS updates, it can often be much more complex than you imagine. Do you take regular backups? Do these include your databases? Do you know where to get updates from for the 20 plugins your CMS has? Do you have the ability to restore your website if something does go wrong?

If you aren’t confident you have the necessary knowledge to keep your website safe, rely on the services of a professional. Your website development company should be able to provide these services to you. This is certainly worth the small extra investment; you’ll wish you did when something goes wrong!

At Adept, we ensure our clients are always up to date with the latest version of the SmartWeb CMS, including all the latest updates and security features. This service is included in our hosting service at no extra cost. We take security seriously, and enforce the use of secure passwords wherever possible, and thoroughly check the work we produce before launch to ensure that as many avenues as possible are covered. For more information on any of these services please contact us on 01263 734198.

 


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity website tips – Consistency with offline materials

For most charities, your website is often the first thing visitors will see of your organisation. Not only does your website want to portray a positive image of your charity it is essential that it matches your other promotional materials so that visitors recognise your charity.

While this applies to simple things like your logo and colour schemes, there are also many other aspects that effect your recognisability. Consistent photo styles, image styles and fonts are also important as these all help to portray a sense of a professional organisation.

This consistency in design is often lost when a specialist website developer is brought in to create the website, who doesn’t have the backing of trained design staff. By mixing our team of creative designers with our experienced development team, Adept ensure that the impact of your brand isn't lost when taken online.