Abby discusses the design for SPURS' free website

Website designer, Abby McQuillen, discusses the design for SPURS’ new free website with staff and volunteers from SPURS.

Non Profits Need Effective Websites.

It’s almost unheard of now days to run into a company or organization that doesn’t have a website of any sorts. Usually a company will have a crude, late 1990s website or one they cobbled together on a free website platform. Or they have one that the boss’s nephew’s son created, but has since joined the Peace Corps. We were made aware of the fact that a local non-profit didn’t have a website, so we embarked on an endeavor to create a full-blown website for them in one day, for free.

This brochure helped us create a free website for SPURSWhen we visited with SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center about a new brochure, we asked about their website. Obviously we wanted to coordinate content between the two items. Alas, they had no website. Of any kind. Never had one, and they had no immediate plans to get one. They use Facebook pretty well, but had nothing else.

SPURS is a horse riding-based therapy center for special needs populations based in Aberdeen, SD. The horse riding programs they offer help people of all ages with balance, self-esteem, motor skills, and gets them outside having fun. This 40-year-plus organization has been steadily growing in number of people served, facilities and events. They are constantly raising money to keep their program going yet had no online presence to cultivate donors or to show they are a credible organization.

We thought of offering them a simple landing page, essentially for contact information, but soon learned that too would probably not be feasible, budget-wise. We recalled a promotion we read about by which a creative company conceived and produced an entire media presence for a non-profit in one day. We thought, what if we produced a full-blown, free website for SPURS in one day? The beauty of this notion is that we’d be able to start and wrap up the project in a day, not letting it linger for months. When companies often do pro-bono projects, they often get back burnered in favor of paying jobs needed to make payroll and keep the lights on. And things never get done. We decided if we focused all the energy of the firm on one project for one day, we’d be done with it and could get back to paying gigs.

So We Began on Their Free Website.

Since SPURS had us write and design a brochure for them, we already had the content in place. We had to edit the text to make it more appropriate for search engine optimization and overall website use. Fortunately SPURS had dozens of great photos to use. Before the day arrived, we met with SPURS to tell them our plan, pick their brains about needed functionality and discuss design ideas. Then we did a crude blueprint (wireframe) to ensure we had everything accounted for in the site structure and navigation.

Then we picked a day to build the site. We had the SPURS folks come back one more time on the day so we could photograph and film the process. All was set, then tragedy struck. Our third-party development server went offline, completely eliminating our ability to build the site in real time. The one-day web event crashed to a halt.

But we did power through and finish the website for SPURS. It took about three weeks of off and on work, but it all came together beautifully. As soon as it was launched, people started using it, especially the downloadable forms needed for riders. The SPURS staff elated in hearing stories of friends, family, volunteers and riders using and sharing the new website.

One of the most critical aspects of the new website and the design was making sure the site was mobile friendly, and that it displayed properly on mobile phones, tablets and computers. Many people believe this is an automatic function, and it can be, but unless details are considered, a user’s experience on a mobile device may not be very fruitful.

All of us here at McQuillen Creative are grateful for the wonderful work SPURS does in the Aberdeen area. They are one of the largest facilities of its type in South Dakota. SPURS trusted us and our website development process to make them a site that went beyond a basic information site. Their new free website tries to motivate volunteers, stimulate fundraising, and generally make the community more aware of their efforts. We donated a final product that was worth approximately $6,000 when all was said and done. McQuillen Creative can create websites for virtually any budget and functionality. This includes websites with videos, ecommerce, databases, directories, etc.

Website Management.

SPURS can also rest assured that their website will stay up and running well into the future. McQuillen Creative also manages websites for people and currently has over 80 websites under management. This means we will continually make updates to their site, edit content, add new text and photos. Although their site is designed such that they can make their own changes, they don’t have to devote a staff member to learning how to do it. MCG’s website management program keeps their site up and running, safe from hackers and easy to find.

Please, check out the SPURS website at www.SpursAberdeen.org. Learn about what they do and the people they serve in northeast South Dakota. And if you’re so inclined, think about a donation or volunteering. Many volunteers report they get much more out of the experience than the riders. They are thankful for the chance to serve in this rewarding way. All of us here at MCG learned a lot about SPURS in this process. All we can say is, we are blown away at what people are inspired to do; to benefit those in need. — Troy McQuillen, Creative Director, McQuillen Creative Group.