...I Was Sick of Watching Non-Profits Get Ripped-Off
Back in 2010, I was employed by a little non-profit organisation called Wellington ICT. We were funded by Wellington City Council to assist community organisations and local non-profits with their online presence. That was the vague extent of the brief.
When I joined as project manager I saw a role filled with potential, but the service had become stagnant and nothing meaningful was happening. So I canvassed. I went to many local non-profits asking them about their online needs and frustrations. Quickly and consistently, I found a pattern of needs and frustrations:
Most non-profits had only a meagre budget to get an effective website created
When they did muster the fortitude to approach a funky, boutique web agency for a quote, they were occasionally pleasantly surprised. They might just be able to afford getting this done. Not every time, more on that later...
The website gets built, but it's so hard-coded that every time they want to change or update content, they had to go back to the web agency to get it done
For the web agency, the non-profit isn't a big spender so they get put at the back of the queue. Also, the agency now charges a fair whack for every website modification. This is called 'ticket-clipping' and it's a cynical way to gouge non-profits
So what happens? The cash-strapped non-profit hardly ever updates content or functionality on it's website because it can't afford what the developers charge
The result? The website becomes dated and stagnant. Readers interpret this as laziness and not-caring about their audience. The reader makes a mental note: 'they can't even be bothered updating their website, so I won't be bothered coming back.' Non-profit loses it's website audience.
Honestly, I had so many Wellington non-profits tell me the same sad story. I decided to do something about it. The two things in life that truly offend and piss me off are injustice and exploitation. I was seeing both in how web agencies shafted non-profit organisations that only exist to do good. I'm a cheeky socialist and upstart anarchist.
At this point I wasn't a web designer, I was a web content writer and strategist. I taught people how to write specifically for websites. At Wellington ICT I ran a series of popular seminars for non-profit organisation managers called: 'How to Write Web Content That Truly Connects with Your Target Audience.' I only intended to run one seminar for 30 participants. Demand meant I ended up running four. The hunger to know was real.
After settling on a really user-friendly and intuitive CMS, I recruited a team of 36 web designers, graphic designers and writers I could train to write for the web.
In all, we created over 40 FREE websites for local non-profit organisations and community groups. I taught each of the organisations how to use the CMS to update and change content themselves. This was incredibly empowering and liberating for those non-profits. The creative autonomy and decision-making oomph was back in their hands.
It was also eye-opening for me. I saw a niche to become a web design and web content specialist for non-profits. The full package. One who wasn't driven by capitalist or profit-margin motives.
I started with Community Engagement Services. That morphed and evolved into Cheeky Upstart.
To this day, I hear obscene stories from non-profit managers who were cynically gouged by web design companies on price. Many use the dark-arts of design and technology to baffle and inflate the market value of what they do.
We end up both wishing they'd found me first.
I've seen first-hand examples of web design agencies charging staggering amounts for work I can complete in 30 minutes. They get away with it because they know charities and community organisations don't know any better.
Don't fall for it. You're better than that. Contact Cheeky Upstart and get a revolutionary website from one of your own today. Power to the people.
Writing for the web is a completely unique style of writing. Why? because our brains process online information completely differently to any other medium.
With web content, we read in an F-shaped pattern. We scan (not read-scan) from left to right, then go back to the left starting point and scan downwards.
Also, with effective web content, less is more. As Crawford Kilian said: 'Every sentence, every phrase, every word has to fight for it's life.' Everything on a web page has to earn it's right to be there. If it's not there by appointment, it shouldn't be there at all.
At The Writing Cooperative, Cynthia Marinakos has written a great piece that talks about the rules of effective web content and why our brains process online information so differently than any other type of reading.