RED is committed to helping non-profit organizations reach the world through their presence on the web. To that end, we are posting this series of articles aimed at demystifying website creation for non-profits. If you have any questions as you read along, please write a comment, or get in touch with us directly.
- Software Updates
If you are using self-hosted WordPress for your website, you’ll need to make sure that the WordPress software, themes, and plugins all stay up to date. This is the best way to keep your site safe.
Another important way to keep your website secure is by educating yourself, your staff, and your volunteers about the potential risks to your website from scam techniques like phishing.
- Controlling Access to Your Devices
You should also consider the physical risks. Who has access to the computer or phone you use to manage your website or organization’s data? Keep them locked with a password or code, and don’t let other people access them unless absolutely necessary. This includes your children. Children and teenagers have been known to inadvertently download malicious scripts. One of the best ways to prevent this is to only allow access to those who absolutely must have access. There are inexpensive tablets and computers these days if your children need a device for school or games. Don’t let them use your computer when your organization depends on it being secure.
- Virus Protection, Spyware Protection, Firewall
Do you have a virus scan and spyware scan program installed on your computer? If you don’t, you should. And don’t think that because you use an Apple product, it’s immune to viruses. Installing a virus protection software, spyware protection, and firewall, are essential steps to keeping your computer and your website safe. There are paid solutions like Norton and McAfee, or free solutions like Avast.
If you didn’t set up an SSL certificate (this is what makes your website start with https:// instead of http://) for your website during its installation, it’s not too late. Now more than ever, users want to know that their information is being securely transmitted. And Google is making it known that the lack of an SSL certificate will impact your search engine rankings negatively.
If something does happen to your site, you’ll need to be able to restore it with minimal cost or effort. That’s why it’s essential to maintain regular backups of your site, and those backups should be stored in a location separate from your web server, such as cloud storage system like Dropbox. There are a number of good backup plugins for WordPress, such as UpdraftPlus (our #1 pick), BackWPUp, and BackupBuddy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What good is a website if no one knows it is there? Search Engine Optimization is the practice of making sure that your website includes relevant information for your audience, which will make it easier for them to find your organization through an online search engine.
Part of getting your non-profit organization’s message out is spreading the word. There are many ways to do this, but you can start by taking some simple steps to optimize your website for keywords. Yoast SEO is a great plugin that can help you do that, with its free or premium version. You might want to check out our course on Local SEO to see how to make your website easier to find for your local audience. Then, if you decide you’d like some more help after that, you could consult with an SEO specialist.
In order for your non-profit to reach as wide an audience as possible, it’s important to ensure that all users have equal access to your website. There are many aspects to building a fully accessible site because there are many types of users who could benefit.
In addition to user with disabilities, it’s also important to consider users with slow internet connections and those who speak different languages.
We have laid out more details about the various considerations that go into building an accessible website in this article. While it can seem daunting to build a fully accessible website, there are several simple measures you can take, such as remembering to include alternative text when you upload images and installing a caching plugin to speed up your site.
Now that you’ve considered these important aspects of your website – its security, search engine optimization, and accessibility, you are ready to launch your website to the world! Once your website is live, make sure to publicize it by leveraging social media.
Did you miss the earlier articles? Catch up here!
Part I: Planning your non-profit’s web strategy
Part II: Planning your non-profit’s web content
Part III: Website design for non-profits
Part IV: Building and hosting your non-profit’s website
Part V: WordPress plugins and other tools for non-profits
Coming up next: Part VII: Leveraging social media to expand your influence
Do you have any questions we didn’t address in this series? Tips and tricks to share with other non-profit organizations like yours? Get in touch with us, or comment below!
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