VFWNewHaven.org 2.0 and Internet Applications

by Charles M. Pickett
Public Relations

VFWNewHaven.org looked dated. Built using legacy Adobe GoLive software, it made  a good postcard site and had a good amount of content (photos, PDFs, events).  It did the trick during the start-up phase but it was time to step it up.

In this visual age, presentation is increasingly important in shaping perceptions where design or poor design (or outdated) speaks to the validity of a person (selfies, Facebook), a company (corporate branding), and an organization. Would you trust a crappy-looking website with your credit card information? Good design shapes perceptions including value judgements on trustworthiness and competence.

Looking at the website, it did have photos of younger veterans doing things (and looking like they were happy) but they were presented in a “content sandwich”with a link bar up top, a footer, and a 1/3 to 2/3 content area with a sidebar on the left. Meh. That said, with 60 percent of all web searches being performed on smartphones, the pages didn’t scale to the smaller screen size, the links were hard to operate, and there was a myriad of middling things.

WordPress has become the premier content management system available on the Internet, powering an estimated 20 percent of all websites. It takes your content (photos, words, graphics) and presents them in an appealing and functional way. It has a visual interface but it also has a learning curve website authors must climb, but the climb isn’t that steep. All the content is put in a database and website authors (or designers) plug in the content into “themes” which use “widgets” and “plugins.”

Learning how to use WordPress is beyond the scope of this blog and my intentions to document my reasons for spending 20 hours porting my website to WordPress. But, I also illuminated some missing marketing components I had not included in Version 1.0, specifically email marketing.

Not everyone uses Facebook, which has its place in getting the word out. However, it shouldn’t replace email in spreading the word about fundraisers, or Buddy Poppy drives, or whatever your post is doing.

MailChimp is an email service provider. It’ is free to use for sites with small email lists and with a little effort, an opt-in email form can be put on your website giving visitors a “call to action” so they can get “free” information.

VFWNewHaven.org uses the theme Maisha from Anariel Design (logo 180×61 using the typeface News Gothic instead of the font Trade Gothic Condensed #20; main image 2600x955px)

Our hosting provider includes WordPress in the hosting package. The site uses The Event Calendar plugin and a MailChimp plugin from MailMunch.

When we achieve our determination as an IRS Section 503(c)(19) veterans service organization, I will use the Give plugin in conjunction with a PayPall pay gateway. I don’t plan on adding a forum or bulletin board (bbPress) because we use Facebook Groups (not the unloved Google+ Community) for chit chat.

Moreover, just to be a nerd, here are some important color HEX numbers I used:

  • American Flag Red: Pantone 193c; BBB133E; 187,19, 62
  • American Flag Blue: Pantone 282c; 002147; 0,33,71
  • Cross of Malta Red (sample): A22E34; 162, 46, 52
  • Cross of Malta Light Blue (sample): 576EA1; 87, 110, 161
  • Cross of Malta Dark Blue (sample): 3C3C64; 60, 60, 100
  • Cross of Malta Light Brass (sample): F6DEB4, 246, 222, 180
  • Cross of Malta Dark Brass (sample): B67F57; 182, 127, 87

And finally, just to dump my technology recommendation notes (thank you VFW Post 1):

  • JotForm.com for join, renew, donate forms.Can be linked from Facebook.
    • allows uploading of DD214 from the form
    • can be used on iPad to sign people up at meetings
  • Social Media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, GoFundMe)
  • Hashtags: #VFW #veteran #military #vfwpostpride http://vfwnewhaven.org
  • MailChimp
  • eztexting.com (bulk texting)
  • Projects: teamwork.com; volunteerspot.com
  • WordPress, themify.me, cloudflare.com, yoast.com

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