Nonprofit Digital Communications

last person joined: 6 days ago 

For those doing digital strategy work, including written or multimedia content for nonprofit websites, social media, and e-newsletters. This group is for those digital communications folks who create written or multimedia content for websites, social media, and e-newsletters for nonprofits. Members will discuss topics such as social media trends, digital analytics, developing content, storytelling, planning and resources, content strategy, and more.

1.  Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 6 days ago

Hi All,

First time posting, but you all were the first ones I thought of when this question came up.

The staff person over our current website (website is aprox. 10-20% or less of his daily job) is wanting to move to Wix, Weebly, or Square. Currently, we have  a Wordpress site that we hired some developers to make for us. The struggle the staff person is having is that the updates on WP widgets when updated break other functionality on the site or making simple changes (like changing the images in the front page slider) causing bigger unrelated problems (in the photo slider example, uploading a new photo caused the english and spanish pages to merge content in coherently). The reason for the move from WP to one of the other hosts/companies is that they control their widgets first having 3rd parties build them and then the site won't break so easily.

My initial thought is that I've heard some critique for the Wix, Weebly, and Square in terms of quality of options, widget functions, someone once said they don't do as well in SEO, etc. Personally, I've not used Wix or Weebly in two years so I'm out of date so all of the critiques could be irrelevant.

In your experience, if you have a non IT/non-web developer person running the website do you stay/use WP or move to a user-friendly site like Wix/Weebly/Square? If you use Wix/Weebly/Square would you recommend them?

Thank you for your thoughts and advice!

Wynn Hawker-Boehnke
Development Strategist | Prism Health North Texas
Dallas, TX

2.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 6 days ago
Edited by Jason King 6 days ago
Hello Wynn,

I'm going to declare a bias here. I help co-organize this forum: WordPress - NTEN Community.

The problems you're having with WordPress are almost certainly surmountable. Maybe before you make the decision to abandon it, you'd like to discuss in our WP forum the issues you're having. Widgets/plugins shouldn't break functionality, and either something has been customised badly, or you're using a theme or plugins that are not well coded or that conflict in some way.

What steps have you taken to diagnose the problems? Have you deactivated plugins one-by-one to establish if one causes the problems? Have you switched to a different theme to see if the problems persist? Have you switched on PHP error reporting to see if that identifies the culprit?

If the custom-built theme is the problem, a solution might be to switch to a different theme (personally I'm a fan of the StudioPress themes) and customise it to use your branding. You wouldn't need to change any of the post/page content, and is probably less traumatic than moving to a new CMS.

I think you may be confusing widgets with plugins. Yes third parties create plugins, but that's part of what makes WordPress so flexible. Your web developer should be able to diagnose, prevent or fix any problems that arise. You should review all installed plugins, check how well rated and up-to-date they are.

You're using the WPML plugin to create different language versions, and Revolution Slider. Might be worth checking out this article about how to get them working together: Creating multilingual sliders with Slider Revolution and WPML - WPML

The official Fixing WordPress Forum - volunteer run by some very clever people, but you'd need to give them very specific info, and if it's a problem with a custom theme or a premium plugin, they might find it difficult to give you advice because they won't be able to reproduce the problem themselves. If your developer has hit a wall solving the problems, that's who should be posting for techie help there.

Wix - please don't even consider it. Horrible code that leads to horrible SEO. Proprietary and inflexible and difficult to abandon. Yes I think Squarespace is a good alternative. Don't know Weebly.

Jason King
Freelance WordPress development and Google Ad Grant management
Mirepoix, France

Twitter: @jasoncsking

3.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 6 days ago
Jason, thank you for the in depth feedback. Some of the questions you asked were on my mind as well in terms of how aspects were customized by the web developer.

I was mixing widgets/plugins. I didn't think they should be causing breakages elsewhere which is why my first instinct was that there was poor implementation on the developer's side. The idea of going to a standard, but branded theme may work. I'll pass that along.

I'm going to take the rest of your feed back to him and see about next steps. Thank you, Jason!

Wynn Hawker-Boehnke
Development Strategist | Prism Health North Texas
Dallas, TX

4.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 5 days ago

Hi Wynn,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having trouble with WordPress.

If you need (or plan) to collect protected health information on your website, you will need to confirm that your host is HIPAA compliant. I don't believe that Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace provide HIPAA compliant hosting.

If HIPAA compliance is not a requirement, I understand the appeal of a service like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. The WordPress content management experience can be managed by non-developers if your site is designed for that user group.

Before migrating to a different service, I recommend documenting what issues need to be addressed in your current setup and confirm how your new content management system will resolve those issues.

If you would like help with your current setup, we have an office in Richardson. We're almost neighbors. :)

Charles Lehosit
VP of Technology
RobbinsKersten Direct
Richardson, TX

5.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 5 days ago
I just poked around your website and on a quick review, I don't see anything that wouldn't work just fine on Squarespace. I think the SaaS website solutions are generally fine for a smaller, content-driven site. I'm assuming the client login links away to a 3rd party service, as the link isn't working for me this morning. That said, rebuilding the site on Square or Wix or whatever may be more work than ironing out the challenges you are having with Wordpress, so you might want to weigh the pain of a migration against the effort to maybe bring in a Wordpress consultant to stabilize the current site.

Note - I work in the Drupal world, so this is truly an unbiased opinion :)

Chris ODonnell
Business Development Manager
Promet Source
Chicago, IL

6.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 5 days ago
It sounds to me like some training for your website manager might be helpful, as well as addressing the actual problems with the site.

Jean Gazis

7.  RE: Choosing a Website Build & Host

Posted 5 days ago
Edited by Lisa Dove 5 days ago
In my opinion switching to one of those builder platforms is a bad idea. Those platforms don't even make an attempt at being 508 compliant- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They leave that responsibility to their subscribers which is made more complicated because subscribers do not have the power to customize the platform programming to make it more compliant.

Morally and ethically, our websites should be accessible to everyone. Additionally, any organization receiving federal funding whose website is inaccessible to persons with disabilities, can be sued. Currently, there is a patchwork of litigation happening in many states over non-compliant websites. One of the reasons for the increased litigation is that the DOJ has yet to provide guidance and rulings on website compliance, therefore people are trying to force change through the only route available, the courts.

Think about how much of our lives we conduct over the internet now. From accessing our electronic medical records, ordering prescriptions, paying bills, interacting with DMV, electronic tax filing, and more. How frustrating it must be for folks when access is impeded because the proper tools are not made available. Try putting a blindfold on and navigating through your website. Try navigating your website without a mouse. It's exhausting and discouraging.

Although a good portion of the litigation is filed by entities advocating for persons with disabilities,some of the lawsuits involve serial plaintiffs who aren't really interested in compliance, but are looking to make some fast money through settling the lawsuits. Some of the targeted entities have been institutions of higher learning,local school systems, healthcare related organizations, and municipalities.

Wordpress has made 508 compliance a major initiative. WordPress goes WCAG

Using platforms committed to compliance is a great start in helping to establish an organization's good faith and fair dealing and speaks to its commitment to accessibility.

Lisa Dove
Director of Communications and Outreach
Virginia Community Healthcare Association
Richmond, VA