One way to measure the effectiveness of a site is the impact it makes in the real-world community. We’ve been watching C4 Atlanta’s new site come together over the past few months, and recently caught up with Joe Winter, a developer behind the project, which is now powered by Make & Make Plus — for an overview on how they created this community hub for local artists.
Tell us a little bit about your organization?
C4 Atlanta is a nonprofit business incubator for artists and small arts organizations. Our mission: to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta. We teach artists professional practices and offer resources to help artists earn a living making art.
Recently we began a new fiscal sponsorship program, which we call ArtsForce. Through fiscal sponsorship, artists can raise money for creative projects that carry a public benefit without having to launch a new nonprofit organization from scratch. Through ArtsForce, we needed to offer artists the ability to raise money for their projects by offering them a project page on our site that they could use to make it easy for donors to give online. Using Make together with some plugins and a little bit of coding wizardry, we built a Custom Post Type to accomplish our objectives. Make made it easy for us to build an archive page that displays our currently active projects.
Why did you pick Make & Make Plus for the website? Were you looking for specific features?
We chose Make & Make Plus in part because we were looking for a theme that made it easy to lay out pages the way we wanted them laid out. We looked at some other themes available with a “drag-and-drop” or “WYSIWYG” interface, but they were either unwieldy or far out of our budget. Make & Make Plus offers an interface that my colleagues could easily learn and falls within our budget.
This is the third major iteration of our website. In our first iteration back in 2010, we were just getting started as an organization, so we used one of the free themes from the WordPress repository. Our second iteration used a very widely used and highly regarded theme that later updated to a WYSIWYG interface with a pricing structure that was far out of our budget. We put a lot of effort into trying to make what quickly became an expensive and obsolete theme work. We learned a lot about what we wanted and didn’t want out of a theme.
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How long did it take you to put a site together? What was the process like?
You could say that our current site is five years in the making; C4 Atlanta just recently celebrated its fifth anniversary since its founding. But to the spirit of the question, from the moment we decided to use Make and created the initial dev site, it probably took about three months to put the whole site together.
We began by thinking first of the various audiences we serve and how we can make the website easier for them to navigate our programs. Like many nonprofit organizations, we have many stakeholders to keep in mind: clients, members, donors, institutional funders, and others. To think about tackling this issue, I referred back to an article that asked the question, “If Google were a nonprofit, what would its website look like?” I didn’t quite follow the advice offered in the article, but the question gave me pause. The first draft of our home page quickly became a mishmash, and I wound up throwing the whole thing out and starting over a few short weeks away from the launch date.
One question we asked was whether we wanted to continue using Gravity Forms as our primary commerce plugin or if we wanted to switch to Woocommerce. The real question was whether we wanted to continue using single payment forms or switch to a shopping cart. Ultimately, we determined that all the transactions made through our site were single transactions. Therefore, a shopping cart solution did not make sense for us. Our entire staff is also now very familiar with Gravity Forms, so less training would be involved. (Note: Both Gravity Forms & WooCommerce are supported by Make & Make Plus.)
For the inside pages, we evaluated our existing site to make sure we knew what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to rethink entirely. Most of our site map had to be reworked entirely. But we were able to migrate and reuse most of the content from what we had at the time. We found that Make works very well with Shortcodes Ultimate and Gravity Forms to help us build a more simple but visually appealing website. Finally, we used WP-Types (now Toolset) to help us build out the Fiscally Sponsored Project post type.
Has the new site made an impact on the web presence of C4 Atlanta?
It may be too soon to tell whether there has been an impact on our brand. We have received a lot of positive feedback, especially from people who were familiar with our old website. However, thanks to Make, we were able to offer an attractive way to present fiscally sponsored projects. I have seen several artists with fiscally sponsored projects advertise links to their project pages. It helps our brand, and — more importantly — it helps them raise the money they need for their projects.
How can we follow you? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.?
If you’re using Make & Make Plus as the foundation for your site, we’d love to hear about it! Reach out on twitter using the hashtag #iusemake to grab our attention!