Thriving Digital Connections: Refresh Your Online Presence

Since the pandemic hit, many nonprofits have been pivoting their operations to provide as much support as possible through online technologies. While in many cases these changes were already part of an organization’s digital transformation agenda, it’s true that the pandemic has supercharged these efforts and has accelerated the need for responsive online systems. For many nonprofits, this has meant hastily uploading new content on websites and social media accounts to share announcements, new protocols, and other important information with their community. Accommodating this change has likely also resulted in a temporary pause of all other non-essential projects, such as full website revamps or the launch of new communications channels.

Now that we’re a year into the pandemic, it might be time to review what from those early-day strategies is still working and what could use an update. In today’s article, we offer some suggestions for sprucing up your online presence, specifically your website, through accessible coding and other web-building resources.

 

Experiment with Coding and UX/UI 

If your organization’s website could use a refresh but you do not have a big budget to devote to this undertaking, going the DIY route may be an option for you. Custom coding gives you the flexibility to curate every little detail of your online presence and to build new features as you go along. It also offers the chance to acquire valuable new skills that can be applied to many aspects of your team’s daily work. Learning code today is a lot different than even a few years ago: it can be done in bite-sized, self-paced chunks that take less time than you might think to complete!

Here we highlight the platforms that are making coding accessible to everyone, from beginners to advanced learners, for free or at a small cost.

  • Mimo is an online platform and app that makes learning code fun and immediate. Think of it as the Duolingo of coding: their bite-sized exercises let you learn coding by applying your skills to real projects and offer immediate feedback on your progress. You can set a daily goal or learning target––supported by a streak functionality that helps you make coding a habit––and Mimo promises that you’ll be able to build your own projects within days. Bonus: they have compiled a really helpful glossary of terms across languages such as HTML, Python and more! 

  • If you’d like to go deeper in your exploration but prefer a more visual route than outright coding, Webflow is helping to create “a world where everyone can create powerful, flexible websites, and apps as easily as they create documents today”. Their courses are a great place to learn how to design, build and launch responsive websites, and their visual resources give you a hands-on and easy to understand overview of basic building blocks, UI as well as best practices. In addition to beginners’ courses, they also offer modules on ecommerce, SEO fundamentals, web elements and much more. And if you catch the web design bug along the way, Webflow also offers a free, comprehensive course to help you build a successful freelance career in web design.

  • If you are curious about UX/UI––respectively, user experience and user interface––you can refine your design skills with Memorisely, a learning platform that brings together experts from around the world through dedicated bootcamps. Memorisely specializes in immersive learning experiences that unfold over the course of 10 weeks. Think of them as a blend of micro-classes, live Zoom lessons, and group collaboration through popular platforms like Figma, Miro and Notion. At the end of the bootcamp, you will have created 3 case studies, published your very own UX/UI portfolio, and understood the principles of the design thinking process and tools. (For more on accessible design, make sure to also check out our blog series, Design for Non-Designers, particularly our post titled Designing for Digital Accessibility and Inclusion!)

     

Website Builders & Hosting Services

If you have limited interest or time in coding and design, fear not! There are several excellent options for building a website that do not require knowledge of coding. SquareSpace is a popular option, as it offers customizable templates that are web- and mobile-ready and the option to add on features such as webshops to enhance your website. They also offer free guides and free webinars to refine your Squarespace skills and help you set up your site. Anyone can access these webinars, new customers without an existing website included.

TechSoup Canada members may be especially interested in Wix, an online platform for building and managing websites. Part of our catalogue offering, Wix offers a coupon code for a 70 percent discount on a 2-year subscription to the Wix Unlimited Premium plan for creating and hosting one website. Wix’s platform allows you to build mobile-friendly websites for your organization or campaigns in an intuitive and user-friendly way. No prior experience required, but if you’re a coding enthusiast you have the option of editing code directly to build custom applications and websites. Bonus: the Unlimited plan also includes free website hosting with a Wix URL and 10 GB online storage, and you can replace your free Wix URL (such as username.wixsite.com/sitename) with a custom domain from Wix or another Internet domain registrar. 

Curious about how to create a website using Wix? Check out this helpful, step-by-step tutorial below:
 

TechSoup Canada members can also access the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Credits Program for Nonprofits, which provides credits for cloud services to eligible nonprofits and public libraries throughout Canada. The AWS cloud platform offers access to high-powered computing, storage, data warehousing, development, analytics, content delivery, and other services to help nonprofits scale without investing in physical infrastructure. This grant provides US$2,000 in AWS credits valid for 12 months that can be applied toward usage fees for AWS on-demand cloud services. Read more about the offer in our product page. 


 

Further Reading 

  • Learn to Code: Top 7 Myths About Coding Debunked (Mimo)

  • 5 Reasons You Need to Learn to Code Now (Mimo)

  • Getting Started with SquareSpace (SquareSpace)

  • The Web Developer Bootcamp 2021 (Udemy course)




 

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