Daily Archives: July 3, 2013

Web Design in the Third Sector

If you’re involved with third sector organisations you will know how it is difficult to find good advice and guidance about creating and maintaining websites.

Some advice, online or from designers, offers technical solutions.  Sometimes this is welcome but often problems have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with organisational culture or human relationships.

Where writers go beyond the technical, they usually offer advice about online marketing.  This is more helpful but focuses upon maximising financial income from your site.  Great if finance is what you’re after but not so helpful if you want something else from your market.  Certainly, if you want to generate income you need to build relationships but for many third sector organisations relationships themselves outweigh the finance they generate.

This blog aims to offer you the support you need to get your online presence working for your organisation.  Do comment and let me know when it is helpful and the issues you would like me to write about.

There are four main categories covering the areas of support I cover on this blog and through my community web consultancy.


It is a common mistake to rush to getting a site online, without a thorough understanding of the organisation’s context.  In an ideal world websites and social media would be planned alongside development of the organisation’s mission or remit.  This way real life and online presence can be made to work together.

I’ve looked at many third sector websites and too often they lack a sense of purpose.  Site content is dull and sometimes it is not clear why the site exists at all!  Where the reason for the site is clear, often it is not clear what the site offers the visitor.


When you set about designing a site, it is crucial that you understand

  • your market (particularly if you have nothing to sell) (because you do, otherwise why are you online?), and
  • content that will engage your market.

Your site’s appearance is important although perhaps not as important as you might think.  A lot of money spent on high quality graphics might do nothing to further an organisation’s aims.

If you’re working with your site’s Content Management System (CMS) balancing competing demands of search engine optimisation, compelling content and accessibility can be taxing.  What strategies can you use to reconcile these competing demands?

This category will show you how to design an excellent site with or without the support of a web designer.


This category will cover things you need to know to make your website work.  I shall explore strategies for using your CMS to best advantage and other online tools to help you navigate your way to an effective site.


This category is about the nature of third sector organisations.  To be effective online, third sector organisations need to understand themselves  and their relationships with partner organisations, followers and customers.

The things that go wrong with websites are often as much to do with the sponsoring organisation as it is with the technical details.  Understanding how organisations work can help restore broken relationships and build new creative ones.  Mutuality is an aspiration for many third sector organisations and so better understanding of what it means and how it can be expressed online is an exciting area to explore.