Your website is the face of your organization, but like any familiar face, over time, you stop seeing it the way others see it. Maybe it's time to take a fresh look at your site to understand whether your audience and your staff members are getting what they need from it.

Over five sessions, Idealware will help you think through how to develop a more useful and engaging website. We’ll walk you through website basics, how to lead a redesign project, best practices for accessibility, mobile optimization, content management systems, technical details, and online branding. We’ll also talk about how website content works alongside email, direct mail, and social media efforts to create an organization’s communications mix.

During this course you’ll:

  • Audit your site against a core set of questions.
  • Define goals for how your website will serve your audience.
  • Learn best practices for designing an accessible, usable, and polished website.
  • Think through your content strategy and approach to your site’s design.
  • Dig into website analytics and how you can use metrics to optimize the user experience for your site visitors.
  • Review the technical side of developing and managing your website.
  • Synthesize your research, ideas, and strategies into a vision that you can share across your organization.
  • Create an action plan and prioritize the steps you will need to take.

Session 1: Starting the Audit Process

We'll kick off the course by helping you define your priorities and set goals. Then we'll cover how to lead a hands-on website audit while applying web design best practices. We'll also review strategies for user interviews and surveys so you can see through other people’s eyes what’s working on your website and what needs improvement. And then we’ll spend a substantial amount of time discussing how to synthesize your research, ideas, and strategies into a vision that you can share across your organization.

Session 2: Defining Your Design and Content Strategy

A website needs content before it can be useful to your constituents. In this session, you'll learn how to define your content strategy, starting with your homepage. What content should be on it? Who will create it? What content matters most? The design of your site is just as important as the content. We'll talk about how to assess your graphic design and site navigation and walk you through, step by step, how to look at your own site with a critical eye. We’ll also introduce wireframing—a method for visualizing and organizing the structure of your website.

Session 3: Fleshing Out an Accessible and Usable Website

In this session, we'll take a look at the goals and best practices behind core web pages. We’ll also cover website analytics to help you identify what’s working and what isn’t, search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that your site can be found on Google and other sites, and user testing. You’ll also receive a checklist for best practices for usability and accessibility.

Session 4: Let’s Get Technical

With your strategy and goals defined, it's time to get under the hood. In this session, we'll cover the technical side of website design, starting with an overview of content management systems (CMSs), which make it easier for nontechnical staff members to create or update website content themselves. We’ll also talk about responsive design and other practices for building mobile-friendly websites. Finally, we'll end with a discussion on integrating your website with your database, online payment tool, and other systems.

Session 5: Defining Your Priorities and Moving Forward

Now that your strategy is in place, and you have an understanding of the tools involved, it's time to put your plan into action. We'll start with an overview of the typical website development process, then talk through how to know whether you need a whole new site, or just an update to your existing one. If you just need to make updates, we’ll define a process to map out what updates should go in a first phase, and then what should come next. We’ll also talk through what you can do yourself and what tasks are best left to a consultant. By the end of this session, you’ll walk away with an action plan for “quick hits” and an outline for a more substantial project.

About the Presenter

Eric Leland, Founder and Director of FivePaths

Eric Leland has spent the last 15 years working with progressive organizations and businesses tackling online and offline technology challenges. Eric is a founding partner of FivePaths (, a technology firm that brings unparalleled strategic technology consulting, information architecture and web CMS and CRM platform development expertise to each project. 

About Idealware

Idealware is a program of the nonprofit Tech Impact. We are the authoritative source for independent, thoroughly-researched technology resources for the social sector. Our publications, assessments, and training can save you time and money by providing impartial guidance that gives you the knowledge and confidence you need to decide what’s best for your organization. Browse our archives, sign up for our mailing list, or learn more at