Wordpress Q&A

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  • Grant Kinney - does a lot of Wordpress work, it's very popular for a lot of needs.

Discussing how to create/revamp website

  • Jack: web dev, wants to listen to and learn from folks to understand what questions nonprofits have
  • Laura: dancer, choreographer - wants a website, for 20 years, uses FB but now wants something that's a home for her, and FB is not that space; big fear is that it's expensive to update it, how can she use a website that's quick and easy
  • Angela: BHC - use Google Sites right now, want to learn how to do more with it, use Wordpress maybe; Wild River - want something that's easier to use than Joomla and possible to do on her own
  • Janet - has Flash site but it's too hard to update (need Dreamweaver), has tried Wordpress
  • Kaitlin: working for 2 orgs; Env Justice Coalition - have WP websites at 2 orgs, have someone working on websites but need help with it

Q & A Discussion

'Frame': it's so easy to go first to the "technology stack" - it's natural to get excited about the technology and the features it enables. This is usually not the best place to start. A website should be about who it's for and what it's trying to communicate.

Do some reconnaissance and brainstorming about these questions - what will the typical user do when they come to the website; what should my org/business need to communicate

Determine for each audience what they're coming for, and make sure your website first gives them what they want, and then ask them for what you need from them

As part of this process, create a "persona" - write a profile for the typical audience member, what's their name, where do they work, etc.

Question - how do you prioritize the different audience members coming to your website? For example, some people want to see detailed 20 page reports, vs someone who's just checking out the website for the first time
  • Create a list of goals and ensure that they are matched to the needs of your audience.
  • Think about the relative likelihood that each audience segment will actually come to the website
  • Is there a way of going from a Flash website to another technology, that doesn't require starting from scratch? It's doubtful and you're better served in the long run to start from scratch.
  • Highly recommended that you use some kind of, preferably open source, CMS - there are several out there, the 3 biggest are
  1. Joomla,
  2. Drupal and
  3. WordPress.

Run down on these 3:

  1. Wordpress: People find the interface relatively easy to use; developers have built it in a way that it's much harder to "break the site" on your own.
    • WP tends to have a large number of plug-ins/themes that are free and paid, which you can experiment with, without having to pay anyone else. When you do this, find an advisor or consultant who can review your choices and help you evaluate the effectiveness of using these themes.
    • Check out Wordpress.com - it's a hosted service that keeps your site online for you.
  2. Drupal: Folks say that it has a steeper learning curve, also for the developers who are putting it together. (Jack uses WordPress for her blog; it's very good for a list of content with categories; when there have to be lots of different types of content with many fields, then Drupal is easier in those circumstances)
    • Check out DrupalGardens.com
  3. Joomla: Design Action Collective has some experience in this. It's probably the one that's least popular.
    • Angela had the experience that doing edits was pretty hard.
  • Find a trusted advisor who can help you evaluate the different developer or developer firms.
  • There are clear migration paths from places like Wordpress.com and DrupalGardens.com so that you can pick up your site and move.

To map out where the costs are:

  1. Domain registration
  2. Hosting - this is just storage
  3. Website development - this usually comes bundled along with the first two, or you can install it yourself.

Question - is it okay to build two different websites, because one is already on a hosting provider and you don't want to move it elsewhere?
  • One thing to consider is that if you have two different websites, then one of them will probably not show up on Google's search results which could be a problem for you if people use Google to find your site.

Question - can Wordpress be used for mobile websites?
  • Any of these systems can be used to build mobile websites. How it actually looks on a mobile device depends on how they have been designed.
  • The default themes on Wordpress.com is pretty good for viewing on mobile devices. Drupal themes tend to be harder to get to look good on multiple devices.
  • The word used to describe designs that look good on all types of devices is "responsive" - a "responsive" design means that the same website look good everywhere, and you don't have to build a separate website for mobile devices.

Let's talk about content.

  • It's easy to get someone to design and develop a website but you still have to provide content for your site. Thinking about that beforehand will help you understand what the design of the website should look like. It will help the developers to optimize the site for what they need to do, so:
  1. create sketches and descriptions of where things will be on your site;
  2. find images and videos you want to use that you want to provide to your users.
  3. make sure there's enough content for designers and developers to fill in to the site as they build it
  4. think about what you have real capacity to do - for example, blogs tend to be a very common feature but they also tend to not get used - someone has to update the blog. Think about how important the content is for your organization.
  • Building in iterative ways is useful - pay to build a few features and then extend the feature set from there.

Question - can you do user permissions - say, some people can only manage blogs, manage events etc.?
  • The more granular this gets, the more help you'll need from developers. Drupal's permissioning models are more robust and full-featured - you can have people allowed to add posts but not events and vice-versa, etc.

Question - if I write a blog post on Wordpress, who sees it and how do people find it?
  • You can distribute it via your own network on Facebook and other social networks
  • Figure out what keywords you want to add to your post, especially to your title, that you want people to search for to find your website.
  • Put your URL everywhere - on your marketing tools, on your business cards, send emails to friends


  • Jack's firm usually quotes from $5,000 to $15,000 for their typical clients - this includes a process of understanding the client's needs, design and development.
  • In general, you shouldn't have to pay anyone to update the website after it's built. Make sure that you own everything - the passwords and accounts, the domain name registration, and the storage. It should be possible for the client to lock the developer out, but never possible for it to be the other way round.

Security and Bug Fixes

  • The fewer customizations you've created, the easier that updates can be.

Question - what are the core skills needed for Wordpress website upkeep?
  • In Wordpress, there's a way to add new content like a blog post - it's possible to use WordPress pretty easily if you know how to use Microsoft Word - the interface has similar icons that you can use to edit easily without having to know HTML.

Question - how do you understand that the website is "in the cloud"?
  • It mostly means that they are not saved on your computer.

Question - what's GoDaddy?
  • It's a domain hosting company - they rent out space and a domain name to you.


  1. References - for prototyping, for persona development
  2. Where to read tutorials on these CMSes?
  3. Wordpress.com; DrupalGardens.com
  4. How do they compare on various "typical" CMS features? Specifically, how does it work with designs and themes?