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A couple of months ago, I jotted down some thoughts about the differences of designing themes on NationBuilder versus other platforms. This fostered an entertaining dialogue among the rest of the NationBuilder design team, the end result being a question of, "how do we summarize these points in a format that allows for quicker absorption?". After much deliberation, we've chiseled it down to a few elements.  

As designers, however, our ideas are best conveyed visually. So we also brewed up a poster that outlines these objectives through both imagery and words. Personally, I love this poster. I hope it's helpful in defining the thought process of how your design can best utilize NationBuilder and serve as a vehicle for your customer's mission. 

I also thought it would be useful to do a deeper dive on the four key points of designing the NationBuilder way. Part of this may be reiteration or obvious to some designers, but the importance of how it can shape every organization's success cannot be over-stated:

Design a theme, not just a site

As communities evolve, so does their digital presence. Themes are meant to bend and grow in parallel with a community's expansion. Events will be added, fundraising campaigns will be started, blog posts will be written, and new supporters will be doing new things. Any NationBuilder theme should be able to adapt to this progress while maintaining a beautiful design scheme.

Design for action

Although marinated in powerful technology, NationBuilder is about organizing people. It's not just showcasing a pretty layout and dressing up information. All of this content should be designed to encourage progress in some capacity.

People organizing other people starts with the initial buy-in, and framing a compelling message around ways to get involved is what helps create an effective call-and-response strategy. 

Design for continued engagement

Someone submitted their email address through the homepage form. Now what? Having a defined flow in place that organizes these actions is critical for turning prospects into supporters, and supporters into enduring advocates.

NationBuilder was developed with this flow in mind and provides a library of tools that help automate the process with a human touch. Inviting an RSVP to take other actions, such as becoming a volunteer at the next event or recruiting others to join them at this one, should be the ongoing goal.

Use Liquid to personalize the experience 

Using Liquid variables is a clever way to cater to the individual and make the experience of updating site content incredibly intuitive. As a dynamic conditional language, Liquid allows supporters to get a window into the comprehensive impact they are having on the community.

It can also prompt a supporter to take the next step in the continued engagement flow depending on previous actions taken. For example, if a generous donor contributed more than x amount in funding last quarter, a message can be displayed encouraging them to recruit other potential event volunteers in lieu of monetary support. 

Liquid can be used for simplifying site editing as well. Instead of having admins navigate a control panel in order to adjust the paragraph text in content blocks, you can use Liquid conditionals that check for individual user permissions and display buttons that link to the appropriate WYSIWYG storing this text. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on designing the NationBuilder way and share some awesome examples that reflect this.  



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