How to get your NGO online…

Dis­c­lai­mer: Not a real post for now, but I’ll post it anyways…just a lose collec­tion of thoughts (so that I don’t have to keep on repea­ting mys­elf on this topic).

Obed, my col­league from Zam­bia, foun­ded an NGO some years ago. Today he told me that his NGO actual­ly requi­res a website.

At this point, most peop­le will just hire someo­ne who takes care of this and prol­ly lose some US$ down the road. Also, once the web­site is up and run­ning, it does­n’t real­ly imply that things are per­fect. What he’ll then need is someo­ne who does the site main­ten­an­ce (admin) and who pre­pa­res all online con­tent (con­tent editor).

In order to get your NGO online, you will need:

a) a domain name
The shor­ter, the bet­ter; may­be best .org for an NGO; domain names are rela­tively cheap; if you have a Credit­Card (!) or a PayPal account pay­ments may be easier & che­a­per (this CC thing real­ly IS an issue!)

b) web­hos­ting
1GB webs­pace, 1MySQL data­ba­se, 1 FTP account, etc. = simp­le packa­ges will do for most requi­re­ments; web­hos­ting often inclu­des one *free* .com domain name; the­re are some free web­hos­ting sites that do / do not dis­play adver­tis­ment (which you may not be able to con­trol); user/server ratio often isn’t visi­ble (= how many users/domain packa­ges actual­ly share one ser­ver? = per­fo­mance index), ser­vice hot­line?; back­up = you are respon­si­ble for your own back­ups, espe­cial­ly with cheap web­hos­ting packa­ges; depen­ding on your finan­cial situa­ti­on, you can mana­ge to obtain all of this for *free* or pay a mon­th­ly fee. The­re are hund­reds of providers/resellers out the­re + web­sites that give an over­view of what cus­to­mers are repor­ting on the actu­al qua­li­ty of the pro­vi­ded service.

c) the right *soft­ware*
WordPress :-)
WordPress.org if you want to install a Wor­d­Press blog on your ser­ver and cus­to­mi­ze it, or WordPress.com if tho­se stan­dard tem­pla­tes on WordPress.com are ok with you. Wor­d­Press, a blog “soft­ware”, ins­tead of an advan­ced Con­tent Manage­ment Sys­tem (CMS) becau­se it will be easier to mana­ge & often just does the job. WordPress.org comes with a HUGE com­mu­ni­ty and many free tem­pla­tes that can be fur­ther modified.
Any other blog soft­ware will cer­tain­ly also do, howe­ver, it just hel­ps to illus­tra­te the fact that this publi­shing plat­form is suf­fi­ci­ent for most web­sites (see d)).

d) an idea of what to put online
Most cru­cial point. Who will be in char­ge of the online con­tent? What do you want to put online? How many sta­tic pages? What kind of pic­tures? The per­son in char­ge of online con­tent will pro­bab­ly also need to res­ca­le pic­tures and trim them for online usa­ge (lower dpi reso­lu­ti­on), no need for 2–3 MB pic­tures that direct­ly come from a digi­tal came­ra. App­ly a licence to your works (=> Crea­ti­veCom­mons) so that ppl will know how do deal with your (!) online con­tent. Crea­te a docu­ment and defi­ne what you want to publish online and how you want to inter­link it — in short, crea­te a con­cept. This will help ever­yo­ne invol­ved to see what the tar­get is.

etc.

Bot­tom-line: get­ting YOUR page and YOUR mis­si­on online isn’t a mat­ter of experts any­mo­re. What you will need to figu­re out is how much money you want to spend on this, how the site should appe­ar (lay­out) and who will be in charge.

I am men­tio­ning all the­se *basic* facts (to most rea­ders — I assu­me that most of you are run­ning your own blog?) becau­se it’s just SOOOOO often that you see a bro­ther from some­whe­re who’s doing a won­der­ful job wit­hin his orga­ni­sa­ti­on, but is total­ly over­whel­med by the (rela­tively simp­le) job of crea­ting a decent web­site that draws a clean line bet­ween hor­ri­ble MS-Front­pa­ge or MS-Office docu­ments (con­ver­ted into HTML/XML) and a smooth litt­le web­site based on a sweet Wor­d­Press *simp­le-CMS* package.

Also, you’­re not alo­ne on this. Pls feel free to visit Kabissa.org to con­nect with others and dis­cuss on how to pro­mo­te your works online.

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