Latest Updates


Free digital consultations for anyone working on COVID-19

It is clearly an anxious time given the spread of COVID-19, and all of the health risks and disruptions that entails. Our thoughts are with all of those suffering the worst of this crisis - from those that are ill or have loved ones unwell, to casual employees and fellow small business operators bearing the brunt of the economic impact. We have been heartened to see the determination of our partners in the community who are not only continuing their important campaigns (mainly digitally, for now), but are also finding the time to do whatever they can to help in the current crisis. Inspired by those efforts we've been considering what small contributions we can make. While we wish we could do more directly, unfortunately we are not health professionals, but we have come up with a couple of simple ideas for small ways to help. That’s why we are offering free digital consultation sessions to anyone working on COVID-19. Whether you are an individual who wants some expert feedback on an online petition, or a non-profit that could benefit from talking through exactly how you might be able to use your database to coordinate support for the more vulnerable in our community, feel free to get in touch. Free Nations At the same time, our friends at NationBuilder are also looking to lend a hand where they can. They are currently offering free software and services to state and local governments, their contractors and agencies, and NGOs organizing essential service provision and emergency response for COVID-19. You can find further information on this here: https://nationbuilder.com/covid_19 All the very best to you and your community, from the entire Code Nation Crew.  --------------------------------- P.S. We have been working remotely for about six years, so if you ever want to talk tips for staying sane at home, let us know :)

Tech tip - Improve load speeds by optimising images

Large image file sizes across your website can be a real drag on load speeds. Optimising images is therefore a quick and simple way to get your website in front of a visitor’s eyes sooner. To do so, there are several online tools that let you compress images, and the one we always recommend to clients is TinyPNG: https://tinypng.com/.

2020 Reed Awards Winners!

Winner in the Best Grassroots Website category We were very excited to take home the award for Best Grassroots Website at this year’s Reed Awards, hosted by Campaigns & Elections in the US. The winning entrant was this NationBuilder website for Green Music Australia, using our Candidate theme: https://action.greenmusic.org.au/ Green Music Australia is harnessing the cultural power of music and musicians to lead the way to a greener world. The campaign's role is to organise, facilitate and inspire musicians and the music industry to make changes to improve environmental performance, from energy use to packaging and waste to transport. By leading by example, and bringing audiences along with them, Green Music Australia is creating deep, cultural change. The website we were asked to create, using our Candidate theme as a base, needed to draw on the vibrancy of the music industry, and appeal to music lovers with straightforward messages that made taking action both achievable and fun. Last year we were nominated as a finalist in this category, for our work with #StopAdani, so it was brilliant to take out the top prize this time   Finalist in two other categories Although we couldn’t maintain our crown as defending champion of the Best International Website category (for Repower), we were nonetheless still proud to be named a finalist, for our work on the Australia Beyond Coal campaign. Finally, we were once again a runner up for Best Website Overall, this time for Give A Dam. Next year we are hoping to make it third time lucky :)  Thanks again to all of our wonderful partners, and congratulations to the other winners and finalists!      

Featured campaign action: Party with the Planet Pledge

Over summer, the Party with the Planet campaign, launched by our friends at Green Music Australia, sought to drive change through social proof and personal responsibility, building a coalition of supportive festivals and asking fans to pledge to be more environmentally-minded. Their website (a customised version of the Candidate theme), drew on the vibrancy of the music industry, and appealed to festival-goers with straightforward messages that made taking action both achievable and fun. Supporters who take action gain entry to a festival prize draw, and a custom social media integration provides supporters with extra chances to win the grand prize when they share photo evidence of their own personal efforts to eliminate waste, further encouraging other festival-goers to join the campaign.

2020 Reed Awards Finalists

Named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed, the Reed Awards embody excellence in political campaigning, campaign management, political consulting and political design. We were pleasantly surprised to take home the award for Best International Website at last year's Reed Awards. We are excited to again be announced as finalists in three categories for this year’s Reed Awards. The awards we have been shortlisted for are:  Best International Website:  https://www.beyondcoal.org.au/ Best Website (Overall): https://www.giveadam.org.au/ Best Action Centre/Grassroots Website: https://action.greenmusic.org.au/ Massive thanks to all our wonderful clients for trusting us to work on such important causes, and fingers crossed for the final results at the end of the month.

Featured hack: Making web pages editable in your browser

Want to make a quick edit to a mockup or play around with the text from a web page, without having control panel access? You can follow these quick steps to make any web page editable via a handy bookmark in your browser (the changes will be for your own display of course, not to how the page appears publicly).  To make a page editable you can:  Select CMD + D to edit a bookmark.  On the Edit Bookmark popup that appears, select More.  Enter the name of the new bookmark (e.g. “Make editable) Paste the following line of code into the URL line: javascript:document.body.contentEditable %3D %27true%27%3B document.designMode%3D%27on%27%3B void 0 When you are on a page where you would click to edit the text, click the bookmark. Now you can start replacing the text with anything you would like (note: to keep a copy of your creations, you’ll need to save the page as a PDF or take a screenshot - it will revert to the actual text when you refresh).  PDF and web editing now only takes a click. Practical jokes on friends and family encouraged, but please use responsibly (we don’t want to contribute to the fake news cycle!).

Find out why your supporters unsubscribing by creating an exit survey

As campaigners, we fight hard for and cherish every email address added to our list. When those supporters unknowingly opt-out of emails or hit the unsubscribe button we are often left in the dark, questioning where we went wrong. Here's how we learn from those mistakes by implementing an exit survey. 1. Create an exit survey Firstly, create a new NationBuilder survey page and connect a survey. Here you can give options to figure out why supporters may be unsubscribing from your emails, and then use that information to improve future campaigns. Common responses include: I didn’t know I subscribed in the first place You send me too many emails Your emails aren’t tailored to my interests/ preferences None of the above View Demo 2. Set up a redirect to your unsubscribe page. Create a new redirect page that sends supporters to the unsubscribe page. Your NationBuilder unsubscribe page lives at [YOUR_URL]/unsubscribe. Note: Redirect page slugs cannot contain unsubscribe so use "exit_redirect" or similar. Once you have created the redirect page, head back over to your exit survey page settings and update the landing page with the redirect slug. 3. Update your unsubscribe options NationBuilder's unsubscribe page design isn't customisable but it is critical to give supporters a final option to update their preferences.

New liquid templating feature in NationBuilder

This post is for those us that love getting right down into the gritty details of building templates for NationBuilder sites :) Today we thought we’d highlight a handy new liquid feature in NationBuilder (from the Bootstrap 4 template), that let’s us define local variables when rendering a partial. Why is that useful? Because it cuts down on the number of updates you need to make across templates. To show you how it has made our work simpler, here is an example, using progress bars. Under the old system, we had separate progress bars on donation pages, petitions, etc. The reason was that there are different variables on those pages for donation counts, signature counts, etc. So if you wanted to update the progress bar across the site you had to do it in many different places. Under the new system, we have a single _progress.html partial, which uses local variables for "percent", "amount", "count", "goal" and "label". When we include that partial on one of NationBuilder's action pages we assign those local variables to their page-specific values. For example, in the petition page template we use the following code to print out the signature count, goal, percentage achieved and signature name: {% include "progress" percent: page.petition.percent_of_goal, count: page.petition.signatures_count, goal: page.petition.goal, label: page.petition.signature_name | pluralize %} Other examples of this new feature include the "_avatar.html" partial with local variables for size and signup to show a supporter's profile image. And the "_svg_icon.html" partial that allows us to easily render commons icons with a name, size, class, fill and style. Specifics - we’re getting technical now… Unlike when setting new liquid variables using the {% assign %} or {% capture %} tags, the variables assigned inline when including a partial are neatly scoped to the partial, so they're only available inside that partial. By contrast, variables created with {% assign %} or {% capture %} tags are available for use globally once they're defined.  Happy templating!

Should I pay an agency to create a custom NationBuilder site or buy a theme template?

Working in the progressive non-profit space, our clients often need to make big change on a small budget. They know a top quality website is important, but custom design and development can be a big investment. Sometimes they will say things like “you build a lot of websites, don’t you have some ready-made templates we can use?” It’s a good question to ask, so we thought we should lay out a few considerations to help you decide what is the best fit for your website project.  Custom NationBuilder websites The Pros You can provide direct input into the design of your site, based on what you know about your target audience (after all, you know them best!).  A professional design and development team can help create a user experience tailored to your specific campaign objectives.  As part of a custom build, it is easier to include third-party integrations and other custom functionality you won’t get in a ready-made template. For example, social media streams, shop integrations, advanced page tracking analytics, member-only content, and resource pages.  You’ll have access to an agency team that can provide more involved support and strategic advice on getting the most out of your website. This is of course a major asset when it comes to optimising your workflows and supporter engagement in NationBuilder.  The cons It takes longer. Our standard project life-cycle, for example, can be up to 14 weeks for a full website design and development project (although that can be considerably shorter or longer, depending on the size, complexity and urgency of the project).  It requires more financial investment. Custom website design and development is likely to cost at least six to ten times more than purchasing a ready-made theme.  NationBuilder theme templates The Pros It is cheaper. In the NationBuilder theme marketplace, for example, you can currently find ready-made themes ranging from USD 200-700 (with varying levels of functionality and support for different page templates).  It is faster. Once you purchase a theme, you can start the content upload process and have your new site up and running in days (if not hours!) You still have all the basics you need to run a campaign.  The cons Your site won’t be unique.  Your site will still look great, but it won’t necessarily be the perfect match for your brand, target audience and campaign objectives.  You won’t be able to add customisations, change page layouts or reorder content.   In summary If you are looking for a unique user experience tailored to your objectives, or otherwise need to create custom workflows for your NationBuilder site, then it is probably worth making the investment and engaging a professional to design and develop a custom website.  If, on the other hand, you want to launch a campaign quickly and cheaply, and only need the nuts and bolts of NationBuilder, then a ready-made theme could be for you. 

Email auto-correct in website forms

Campaigners all understand the importance of high quality data, especially when it comes to engaging supporters online and contacting them en masse. Recently we've spent some time creating a few tools to help organisations improve their data quality and minimise email bounce rates. Our aim is always to automate processes where possible, and to make new tools available across the board so all our progressive clients can benefit from each advance and improvement. With that in mind we've added a special email auto-correct tool, which is live in all the themes we create from day one. Email auto-correction in action When your supporter types in their email address with an accidental typo in the domain name they will be prompted with a suggested correction. For example, "supporter@gmal.com" will lead to a prompt suggesting "supporter@gmail.com". The supporter can then simply click the link included in the prompt to instantly update the email field with the suggested correction. You can see a screenshot of that feature in action on an example site below: As an added bonus, the tool will offer up suggestions for second and top-level domains too. For example, when a supporter types in "supporter@hotmail.con" they will be prompted with a suggested correction to "hotmail.com". If only the second-level domain is misspelled, it will be corrected independently of the top-level domain (so "supporter@organisation.og.au" can be easily corrected to "supporter@organisation.org.au"). We implement this feature across all pages to ensure it goes live in every form, including petitions, donations and event RSVPs. Our clients have found it invaluable for preventing errors in signup information across their sites, and in reducing email bounces when sending blasts to supporters. Get in touch if you'd like a hand adding this solution to your site!