WordPress for Education and Nonprofits

Varsity recently completed a re-branding process that included migrating our website to a new CMS. Our former site was quite dated (in appearance and content) but it still had some life in it when we moved to HubSpot a little over a year ago. We saw some improvements in our social media and creation of new content. The investment improved some of our marketing metrics, and helped us to understand where we should be focusing our efforts. But overall, we didn’t see much progress, and after a year we felt we had learned all we could, and were actually being hindered by HubSpot’s simplistic features.

As part of the move to the new website, we reviewed the options out there and made the easy decision to go with WordPress. Aside from the software being open source and free (saving us more than the $300 a month we were paying HubSpot), we learned a lot about what WordPress could do. Since making our decision I’ve probably talked with at least half a dozen clients about their web marketing and in every case I’ve made the same recommendation – move to WordPress.

You can find lots of reviews online that outline the reasons why someone should choose WordPress. But I thought it would be helpful to put this in the context of the markets we serve; education and nonprofits.

Reasons why both education and nonprofits should consider WordPress:

1.       It’s free. And that helps.

2.       Hosting online is very common and very affordable (as low as $5 per month).

3.       It is widely used, so there are many designers and web producers that work with WordPress. This should mean more people to choose from, and competitive labor rates.

4.       There is a short learning curve with WordPress. You don’t need to be a tech person – if you can navigate using a cloud application like Google Apps, you can figure this out. (Although some short online training videos can help.)

5.       There are thousands of connectors, plug-ins, and add-ons to make Word Press sites work with other apps and data.

6.       Built-in responsive design. Your web site will now automatically reformat for tablets vs. a full-sized computer screen.

7.       Plus, there is a mobile plug-in that can make your site work well for small formats like smart phones.

Finally, both education and nonprofit organizations have some specific applications they use, from fundraising and accounting to student information management. WordPress is open enough that you can use it as a web platform to make the data from those applications accessible. And with an open API (application programming interface), you can do more advanced integration down the road. This translates into low upfront costs but the ability to adapt and grow as your needs dictate and budget supports.

Here are some fun examples of how educators are using WordPress to communicate and deliver up-to-date classroom news, and also some ways nonprofits are utilizing WordPress.