Here at Blue Star Business Services, we love supporting great community organizations! One of the Northwest Arkansas nonprofits we're proud to have recently worked with is the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation. The foundation raises private funds for special resources, programs and opportunities that are not normally available to Fayetteville Public School students through the district's normal operating budget. In the past, FPEF grants have funded cool things like rocket ships, terrariums, and sewing machines - things that help teachers enhance their students' learning experience.
Recently, we helped the foundation launch a new mobile-friendly website at www.fayedfoundation.org. Although the foundation already had an existing website, it had been built years ago on older technology that was not designed for use on the mobile web. Readability and ease of use had become an issue on the wide variety of mobile devices that a majority of people now use to access the web every day. In short, it was time for an update.
The new site uses responsive design, allowing it to look good and function well, no matter the size or dimensions of the device you're viewing it on. For example, the main menu now shrinks down to an expandable icon on mobile sized screens. Side-by-side columns on desktop become vertically stacked columns on mobile devices. The site was built using the WordPress platform, so this process involved swapping out software behind the scenes and in some cases rebuilding entire pages on the new site, all while the old site continued to serve the public. While we were at it, we also made several other design improvements.
Behind the Scenes
Staffers at smaller nonprofits often need to wear many hats, and many do not have their own IT departments. In some cases, they need to be able to make quick changes to their own websites and social media accounts, without lengthy delays dealing with external vendors. For the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation, we made a few improvements behind the scenes so that they now have the full ability to alter every element of the site themselves if they so choose. In this case, we installed the Beaver Builder drag-and-drop visual page design system, and trained staffers how to use it.
Another big consideration for any site is Search Engine Optimization. We installed the popular Yoast SEO plugin. This allows staffers to optimize new content so that it ranks highly on Google and other search engines. Having the ability to use search engines to your advantage - essentially promoting your message for free - is a big plus for smaller organizations.
We also installed and activated a feature called Jetpack's Publicize, so that new blog posts get automatically posted to the foundation's social media accounts.
Call to Action Buttons
One of the most important aspects of any website is getting your site visitors to take an action you want them to take. That could be buying your product, signing up for your newsletter, or contacting you. For nonprofits, getting people to donate can be crucial for the health of the organization. In all of these cases, it's important to design the site in terms of layout, color and other factors, so that visitors are psychologically encouraged to take action. For the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation, we changed the call-to-action buttons so that they visually "pop" on both the Home page and the Donations page. One design improvement we made was to change the color - making these buttons a complementary blue, opposite on to color wheel from the site's predominant "yellow pencil" color scheme.
Other Design Changes
- Also on the Home page, we put the foundation's Corporate Leadership Circle Sponsors into a pair of rotating sliders, in order to dynamically showcase these generous corporate donors.
- Widget areas allow the foundation to create their own slideshow of featured announcements of any length.
- We added second column of blog posts to showcase a "Donor Spotlights" section. Both columns are now filtered by category, so the right posts always show up in the right place.
- A new call-to-action box allows visitors to subscribe to the foundation's e-newsletter.
- On the site's interior pages, a new sidebar contains a gallery of images of children who've been helped by the program.
- The Endowments page now has informational popovers about the different endowments:
We're happy to have worked with the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation on this project, helping to support the great work they do to advance the education of public school children. We believe the many technical and design changes we've made to their website will serve the organization well for many years into the future.
If you operate a nonprofit or small business, we'd love to help you too! Contact Blue Star Business Services today for help updating or maintaining your website. We also do training. In addition, Blue Star can help you with social media, branding, logos, direct mail, and a variety of other services. Check out our Services pages for more!