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Your donations to ServanTek help nonprofit and ministry organizations across the country leverage technology to better serve their constituents. Thank you in advance for your support! 

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Year in Review: 2017 ServanTek Project Highlights

The Class Project

Over the course of the past year, ServanTek has been working on a variety of projects for both ministry and nonprofit organizations.

One such project is the development of a job portal for ReServe, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes individuals, age 55 and older, to serve both nonprofit and government agencies with their expertise and talent. ReServe connects these individuals with partner organizations through the use of an online job board. Over the course of the past several months, ServanTek has come alongside ReServe to revamp their job board by designing a customized system to streamline their process of connecting the right candidates with the right job opportunities.

Over the summer, ServanTek also worked with Fedcap and the Dixon Center to rebuild the Dixon Center website on a new content management system. The Dixon Center is a nonprofit organization designed to help communities and organizations improve the quality of life for both military families and veterans. Following the migration of their website to a new CMS, ServanTek also provided training for staff members, so they can maintain their site moving forward.

Earlier this year, ServanTek designed a ministry website for theclassproject.org, an initiative involving a group of churches in the state of Washington, who have come together to support their community by adopting local schools. The Class Project website provides resources to churches who are interested in adopting local schools, as well as a database of schools, so site visitors can easily see which schools have already been adopted and those that still need support.

In recent months, ServanTek came alongside Inheritance of Hope to assist with the redesign of inheritanceofhope.org. The new design provides a more visually driven experience for website visitors, while also allowing them to more easily access specific giving opportunities. Throughout 2017, ServanTek has continued to provide website support to a variety of organizations like Fellowship Deaconry in Basking Ridge, NJ, Fedcap in New York, NY, True Disciples in Honduras, Providence Presbyterian Church in Midland, Texas, among others.

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Free Wordpress Themes from around the Web: 2017 Edition

I recently received an inquiry regarding the best free Wordpress themes available for nonprofits. Since it's been a while since we've posted about free themes, I thought it would be a good opportunity to mention some newer themes that are both flexible and easy to work with. Many nonprofit webmasters may not have experience with HTML or PHP, but many are quick to learn when it comes to managing content using a CMS like Wordpress. Here are some of the best free options we've found that you can download today to give your nonprofit website a fresh look.

Vantage by SiteOrigin

Vantage by SiteOrigin

After testing many free Wordpress themes, we found that SiteOrigin's Vantage theme provides a great deal of flexibility due to the SiteOrigin page builder plugin. The Vantage theme offers a wide variety of design customizations using the theme customizer, and the page builder can be easily edited without any coding required. Learn more at SiteOrigin.


Hestia by ThemeIsle

Hestia by ThemeIsle

Hestia offers a modern design with a wide range of possibilities available in the site customizer. If you're looking for a straightforward interface, Hestia gives you all the tools you'll need to construct the content of your homepage using the site customizer. Hestia can also be used to easily create a single page site, with the option of turning on and off a variety of content areas with the click of a button. Learn more at ThemeIsle.

 

Astrid by aThemes

Astrid by aThemes
Astrid offers a sleek, responsive design with a large header image and call to action area at the top. Astrid allows you the flexibility of employing the SiteOrigin page builder, with access to specific widgets created for the Astrid theme. Much of the look and feel can be edited in the theme customizer, with the ability to add page sections and widgets using the page builder. Learn more at aThemes.

 

Talon by aThemes

Talon by aThemes
Talon is a responsive theme that offers a clean design with a large image slider at the top of the homepage and the ability to add a wide range of widgets below. Talon also employs the SiteOrigin page builder, and allows you to easily update things like fonts and colors using the theme customizer. Learn more at aThemes.

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Building a Quality Nonprofit Website: Wireframing

Wireframing

In our last post, we explored the topic of site mapping, the first step in our three-part series on laying the foundation for an effective nonprofit website. Once you've finalized your site map, you're ready to begin the process of wireframing. This is where you'll make decisions about individual page elements and where they should appear on the screen. It's important to remember that even though you'll be working on page layouts, it's not yet time to begin the process of styling these elements. In fact, the most effective wireframes will be devoid of color, images and font selections, like the one pictured here. While your sitemap gives you a good bird's-eye view of the site, your wireframes will provide you with a page-by-page architecture or blueprint, allowing you to consider user interactions on each page.

Wireframe Example

While you might be tempted to skip this step altogether and move on to the look and feel of your website, wireframing is a crucial step in the process for two reasons. First, a wireframe allows you to focus on functionality. Before you make decisions about how anything should look, you'll need to consider the user story, or what users should be able to do once they arrive on your site. Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want them to make a donation? Whatever actions you want them to take will need to be addressed in your wireframes. That said, you'll need to consider where and how to incorporate these functions into your site. You'll also want to use this opportunity to consider what type of priority to give to each of these functions. This can be determined by the placement and size of these features on the page.

Next, a wireframe forces you to consider usability. Without getting caught up in the more subjective discussions about the colors or shading for each element, you'll be able to determine the best placement and priority of specific content or calls to action to direct visitors where you want them to go. Even if you don't have all of your content completed yet, it's a good idea to define what messages will be used and where these will be placed. Once you've defined what you want users to do, you need to consider the most intuitive way to direct them to do it. Maybe that means your donate button should take up a little more real estate. Maybe that means you need to re-think how many fields appear on your newsletter subscription form. Or maybe, you'll want to move some of your content a little lower on the page so the action items are closer to the top of the screen. The key to creating a user-friendly wireframe is to consider the needs of your audience and how to meet these needs in the most intuitive way possible.

Whether you're using a pen and paper or a more sophisticated piece of software to create your wireframes, the goal remains the same. You need to first determine the functions of your website, and then organize and prioritize these elements in the most intuitive way possible. If you're looking for a tool that will allow you to build a wireframe with a web-based application, one great option is pidoco.com. This tool has a minimal monthly fee for a limited number of projects, and it allows you to design and connect countless pages within your project. If you're looking for a tool you can download and use on your computer, Pencil offers the basic functionality you would need to design a wireframe for a simple site. A more comprehensive list of wireframing tools can also be found here.

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Building a Quality Nonprofit Website: Site Mapping

Site Mapping

Are you considering a website redesign? Perhaps you're just getting your nonprofit organization off the ground and you're starting from scratch. In either case, if you're in the planning stages of building a new site, it's important to lay a foundation that will take into consideration your organizational goals, your engagement with site visitors, and your site's overall user experience. No matter what the size of your organization or the amount of content you intend to publish, this three-part series on structuring an effective nonprofit website will outline the basic steps you need to take to get started.

Sample Site MapThe first step in building an effective nonprofit website is the creation of a site map. A site map is a flow chart or basic mapping of the pages on your site and how they are connected. This map will show you a hierarchy of your content, while also allowing you to see paths of navigation from one page to the next. Typically, a site map will display your main menu items, and show you how sub-pages will be organized and connected to these main pages or categories. Be sure to consider the key elements and action areas of your site, and how you want to direct users to these areas.

By laying out your website architecture at the outset of your project, you will be able to get a bird's-eye view of the structure of your site, and you'll also be able to ask yourself some good questions about the "why" behind what you're doing.

For example, when reviewing your site map, you may want to consider the following questions:

    • Why are X, Y, and Z, the main level navigation items? Do these categories provide the best structure to organize my content?
    • Does the main page include direct access to the key areas of the site where I want users to navigate most frequently?
    • Are there any sub-navigation items that need to receive a higher priority? Have I allowed for easy access to these pages? Do any of these pages need to be more prominent or directly accessible from the top level navigation?
    • Is the hierarchy of content intuitive for site visitors?
    • Is any of the content redundant?
    • Did I leave anything out that should be included?

If this is your first time developing a site map, the process can be a little overwhelming. Be sure to invest some time to think through and identify your key objectives in building a site. It's easy to get caught up in the look and feel, but your primary goal should always be to drive your audience to action in a way that is user-centered. In order to do this, you'll need a solid site map. Once you've reviewed your site map to make any necessary adjustments, you'll be prepared to move on to your wireframes, which we'll discuss in our next post.

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