WordPress for Nonprofits: Samaritan Web Designer Micah Blumenthal Provides a Checklist

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So, what are some essential factors you need to take into consideration when picking the WordPress for nonprofits and community organizations? We’ve compiled a quick checklist to help narrow the list:

A Quick WordPress Theme Checklist for Your Organization:

1. AFFORDABLE

We’re here to officially dispel the myth that in order to have a sleek, functional and high-speed website, you need to throw thousands of dollars at custom web designers. Your funding definitely has better places to be so what your organization needs is a website with a low-priced upfront cost to create and an even lower cost to edit down the line.

2. SUSTAINABLE

The goal of your initiative is to have a lasting impact on your participants and create meaningful ripples that will pick up more momentum and drive your mission forward. What that means for the theme you pick to create your website is that it needs to be equipped to support the timeline you have in mind for the direction and growth of your organization—if you’re in it for the long haul, your theme should be too.

3. QUICK SET-UP & MAINTENANCE

You already know how important it is to allocate your funding, time and people wisely to the tasks most pertinent to the experience of your participants and so it may be the case that you don’t consider making a highly functional and beautiful website to be one of your top priorities. We get it—that’s why it’s a big win to have a WordPress theme that lets you get a beautiful site up and running in just hours!

Can the Jupiter Be a Low-cost Solution to Increasing Awareness & Participation for Your Nonprofit?

micah portrait- wordpress for nonprofitsWe know that organizing a community program or forming a nonprofit is no easy feat and requires a great deal of outreach, funding and collaboration. In most cases, when trying to decide how to allocate your available resources, there’s always a double-edged sword in trying to do it all with limited means and also wanting to make sure that all your efforts are met with a big turn-out!

With all these considerations in mind, it was our intention at Artbees Themes to develop a theme that would cater to the needs of all businesses, including nonprofits and local community-run programs. To make sure we were fulfilling those requirements, we met with a number of web designers whose main clients are nonprofits to see just how well the Jupiter met their criteria.

Micah Blumenthal, an active participant in many local nonprofit and community organizations, joined us to discuss how the Jupiter can act as a virtual megaphone that rallies support, funding and overall turnout for your initiative.

You first caught our eye when we saw that you had used several of our Jupiter themes but after doing some digging we were actually quite blown away by the role and participation you have in your community. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do in your community because it seems like it underpins a lot of what you do with web design.

I’m pretty community-driven. I moved here to Kingston, NY about six years ago and started my business doing web and graphic design and I really felt that what was important to my business was working with local businesses, artists and organizations and being able to meet people face to face, walk around my community and see somebody whose site I just built—having that connection. For me being a web and graphic designer ends up going hand in hand with a lot of the things I end up doing in my community.

Jupiter has allowed me to do that—it has the broad capability but also the aesthetic that’s allowed for me to build sites for local businesses, nonprofits or artists to help put them on a level that looks just as good if not better than other privately funded sites.

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What type of centers and organizations do you work with in your community?

I work with one center called Center for Creative Education where we do a lot of afterschool programs for youth, primarily for drumming and dancing. From this we actually created a spin off fitness program whose site I built using the Jupiter. In addition to that I spend a lot of time working for O+ a fully volunteer-based initiative combining art, music and wellness.

last year was our 6th festival here in Kingston where we had over 60 bands, 25 artists, 7 wall murals that went up and all the volunteers, as opposed to getting paid in the traditional sense, were able to have health care provided to them. The art of medicine for the medicine of art. We were able to reach our program out to Chicago last year and we’re looking to expand to California. I also work as a yoga instructor and am involved in our local farmer’s market. So yes, I prefer my web design and graphic work to complement all of these initiatives.

A man of many hats I guess! So actually it’s great then that you have this web designing experience and are so involved with these types of community programs. So in your opinion, how does the Jupiter couple both web design and local outreach programs? Is the Jupiter conducive to these types of centers, nonprofits and outreach programs?

Typically the sites for community-based programs or nonprofits don’t look really good. And I get it–they’ve got 50 million things to do, they have mostly volunteer staff, they don’t necessarily have a lot of resources and so how their site looks and how they often present themselves to the world is often the last thing on their list of considerations. And I guess I always thought to myself that if I was going to do graphic and web design, I also want to be able to put my head down at night and feel good about the work that I do.

I want to be able to take my skill and talent and contribute to these programs putting thems on a level that looks just as good as anybody else if not better! Especially since in the world of web design there’s no shortage of bad design—we know that. So having a local nonprofit look good says something and it makes it easier for them to tell their story, find funding and have a presence. Jupiter has allowed me to do that—it has the broad capability but also the aesthetic that’s allowed for me to build sites for local businesses, nonprofits or artists to help put them on a level that looks just as good if not better than other privately funded sites.

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In your previous web designer experience did you try out other web themes and if so, what was your experience with them and what eventually lead you to using the Jupiter?

First off I think that within WP there’s that initial argument between custom building and the theme route and yeah I’d played around with a bunch of different themes though I stumbled upon Jupiter a few years ago and as time went on I found myself almost exclusively working with Jupiter. Why? Well again, there’s so many themes out there—and honestly, most of them aren’t that good. What I found in Jupiter was not only versatility and the ability to do with it what I wanted to do but early on I also found that you guys have the support!

From the beginning if I couldn’t figure something out or what having trouble with a certain feature there’s always been a quick and easy way to contact Artbees and get a personalized answer! That made it fairly simple for me. What also makes Artbees unique is that themes kind of come and go—a theme can be great and then a year later it’s done—it lost its support and drive and that has never been the case with Artbees.

Artbees found two themes that work and have continuously worked on those themes and made them better, adding more functionality and versatility to them and I’ve never had the sense that it was fading or going to go away—-if anything you guys are rolling out updates all the time! It’s ever-progressing which for me was what I liked more about it than even a custom work site. If I make a custom-made theme that theme will advance based off the needs of one user whereas Jupiter updates based off the needs of 30K+ users!

So it’s ever-evolving and the Support has always remained just as solid, if not better than ever so I kind of got to a point where even still I’ll have a project I need to work on and I’ll look over at other themes and occasionally it might cross my mind and then I realize “why am I even looking somewhere else?” I’ve totally found the theme that works for what I do. I’ve found my Theme Soulmate!

Finding the right theme can be difficult so you really have to measure its quality not only by what the theme’s capabilities are but what the support is like and knowing whether they’re in it for the long haul. Artbees has answered yes to all of those for years now!

Yes! I was actually just talking with another user who also owns his own web design agency and he mentioned the same thing about the Jupiter. He wanted to use a theme for his clients that would be good in the long-term—we’re talking 5-10 years later. He felt comfortable using Jupiter because he knew its track record and that it wouldn’t be abandoned and would constantly be updated.

Yeah exactly and it’s really big because when you decide to go the route of WordPress with themes you are saying that this whole framework and engine that you’re putting all this time and work into is kind of in somebody else’s hands. So if that theme developer ends up deciding that they’re done with that theme and maybe change their focus to another theme, then what do you do? Then you’re stuck in this position because you did decide to be beholden to somebody else’s work.

So it can be a difficult spot and I think therefore that finding the right theme can be difficult so you really have to measure its quality not only by what the theme’s capabilities are but what the support is like and knowing whether they’re in it for the long haul. Artbees has answered yes to all of those for years now!

Have you worked with your customers to teach them how to use Visual Composer and if so, what feedback have you gotten, especially from those without much technological background.

Yeah I have taught some of my customers how to use it and the thing about WordPress is that yeah, sure, at the beginning it’s seemingly simple, but then you lay these other things on top of it—plugins, widgets and the sort. Visual Composer, I think, makes all that clear enough where it can dramatically shorten the learning curve for most users. I have found it necessary to use other plugins just to turn off some of the Admin controls because the simpler I make it look for the user back there the better. I try to meet the client at their training and skill level, but Visual Composer is a fairly comfortable experience.

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What feedback have you gotten from your clients about their sites and have they experienced any change in their conversion rates or click through rates after using the Jupiter?

Nothing specific in terms of metrics and click through rates and a lot of the time I’m making entirely new sites but in terms of my clients’ opinions and feedback, they love the site, the look of it and how their users react. Maybe the best answer to your question is that in the six years I’ve been doing this I’ve never had to go out and find work, I’ve been fortunate enough for work to find me and that’s primarily because people have seen the work that I do with the Jupiter and asked who did that which leads back to me.

We’ve noticed a lot of our users that own web design agencies are one-person shows—do you find that the Jupiter helps you manage multiple clients at once?

Some of the biggest advantages of the Jupiter are that it combines so well design and functionality, so that already makes it easier and a lot of the tools that Jupiter has built in make it easier to manage everything. Though maybe the biggest thing is that because I’m able to use the Jupiter exclusively I’m no longer having to go to each site and then learn the tricks and updates for a different theme. I can boil it down to one theme and so the lay of the land is familiar to me with the Jupiter and being that I’ve reduced my own learning curve for it, it’s a benefit to my clients and is no small thing in the long-run. Everything updates the same and less variance behind the curtain gives me more time to design and produce.

Is there any piece of advice or suggestion you could give to other Jupiter newbies who may also be trying to start their own web design agency?

That’s a tough one because Jupiter is so versatile and every website project is so different and for my own personal satisfaction I just like that I can use one theme to make a completely different looking website with different features and tricks. The fun thing with Jupiter is that it allows you to create a great website design while also challenging yourself as a web designer. The ever-growing collection of templates is just good to look through to see the potential designs and ideas that I can use. And obviously Artbees hasn’t rested at all because there are new templates coming out every week!

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