Is WordPress for Nonprofits?

Lou
Kotsinis

When it comes to redesigning your organization’s website, chances are you’ll be doing so in WordPress.  You’re not alone.  Recent data shows that 40% of all websites running on the web are powered by WordPress, (and a 2018 report shows that 44% of all nonprofit organizations do so as well).  But is this seemingly ubiquitous platform all it’s cracked up to be?  In the end, is WordPress for Nonprofits? Let’s take a look. 

wordpress for nonprofits

The Pros

For mission-based organizations especially, WordPress has a lot to offer. Consider: 

It’s Free

Simply put, the core WordPress platform is free for anyone to use. There are no registration or licensing fees, no ongoing subscriptions, and upgrades are free as well.

 It’s Customizable 

The core WordPress platform can be customized to accept donations, sell products, collect contact information and newsletter subscribers and much more. This functionality is provided through the use of individual plugins – tools coded and built by third-party developers from all over the world. 

It’s (Generally) Intuitive 

You don’t need coding or web design experience to run a basic WordPress site; with perhaps a bit of coaching you can set up a site in a matter of minutes. Indeed, the DIY- aspect of WordPress is a big draw for organizations that don’t have an in-house website expert.

The Cons: 

For all its benefits, though, WordPress has some challenges. 

All of those plugins and customization options mentioned above? For some organizations, it’s too much flexibility. Originally conceived as a blogging platform, WordPress core is basically a blank canvas  which requires vision, planning and time to sift through all the possibilities.  

Security is another concern.  Plugins, at the end of the day, are essentially pieces of code.  Gather enough disparate code from multiple developers and you’re looking at potential vulnerabilities in your WordPress site.  Moreover, the ways in which the WordPress platform collects and stores your data, can leave critical data open to compromise. 

And, unless properly maintained, a  WordPress website can be slow. Whether it’s those pesky excess plugins, custom themes (i.e, the web design itself), or code that is simply too bloated, WordPress can lead to frustrating slow-loading pages, causing your visitors to leave your site prematurely, and reflect poorly on your brand.  

Enter JAMstack

So then, is WordPress for Nonprofits? 

Yes! (And, no). Web development technology is evolving, and more solutions are coming to market that may offer your organization more speed, security and usability.  Consider, for example, a relatively new web architecture called JAMstack.

JAMstack stands for client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs, and prebuilt Markup. And while these terms may mean little to a non-developer, there are basic JAMstack fundamentals to understand. 

JAMstack is essentially a new way of building websites and apps that promises to deliver better performance, tighter security, and an easier and less expensive means to scale your website as your organization grows. 

Sites built with JAMstack technologies are fundamentally more secure than WordPress sites because they don’t rely on a web server or public database. JAMstack sites are typically fast-loading and high-performing, which tends to positively affect user experience, increase retention rate,  boost SEO ratings, and positively influence an organization’s marketing outcomes. 

Website developers say JAMstack enables them to produce quicker, more focused sites without being tied to limiting architecture. Is JAMstack the future of the website for nonprofits? Time will tell. For now, it’s enough to know that there is more than one option available to nonprofits when it comes to creating a high-performing website to serve their marketing and operational needs. 

I’ll be talking more about Jamstack in future blog posts – and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t consider WordPress for your next redesign (or worry that WordPress is causing problems right now).  We still build the majority of our clients’ sites in WordPress and with the right maintenance strategy, it’s still a fine solution. 

I am advocating though, that as part of a larger analysis of digital transformation, that you work with your digital agency or Web team to develop a long-term digital strategy, which considers holistic solutions that provide the flexibility and functionality you’ll need to grow your organization and support your mission. 

More to come!

 

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