Thursday, January 13, 2011

Google Apps for Non-Profits: There is a Life Beyond WordPress Webmaster Dependency

This morning, after viewing this web television piece about how this non-profit has benefited by taking a Google Apps direction, I am reflecting about the great conversation I had with a lovely person I met yesterday that I started connecting with over at one of the several espresso cafes where I work.  She overheard my phone conversation raving about the advantages of a Google Apps for Non-profits direction that I was taking with my client, and she got interested herself. 

Hers was a familiar situation that I've seen several non-profits faced with: They get to a certain stage in their development where a new website with additional functionality is in order, but they get stuck because the WordPress site with plugins that has been proposed by the local WordPress "guru"...costs an arm a leg in consulting time and they don't have the money. And so they sit, needing to raise more money to pay for a complicated WordPress implementation...the next year... that th3y belatedly discover they can't easily manage themselves, and this causes them additional organizational and  money headaches. They in effect, become "WordPress guru dependent", wasting more time and money than they need to.

Luckily, I was able to help her by letting her know that there is now a life beyond WordPress webmaster dependency, especially when you see and understand the advantages of what a Google Apps for non-profit direction provides. Here are just a few of them:

The first major benefit is Operational Infrastructure... not just another website with more "bells-and-whistles":
  • A robust Google-architecture direction, most of which is free or low cost - It all starts with a Gmail account that you discover is the door way to multiple free applications that you don't have to pay for. Google Docs is wonderful. You can even develop a Google Site that hosted for free if just use a Gmail email address. If however you need to have a domain name e-mail address, then a Google Apps Premier edition account is only $50 a year per domain name e-mail account...and Google then becomes your IT resource...and supplier of robust applications that allow your organization to grow...virtually... as you extend your business reach in ways limited only by your imagination.

  • With your Google Premier edition account you also get your own Google Video account with better control over who views your content, and better control over the kind of content you need to upload.

  • You have no in-house mail server, file service or web server to go down!  Instead you get an elegant virtual file server managed by Google with 99.9% uptime... nothing like the horror that most non-profits that have in-house mail servers and file servers continue to experience...and at the worse time....typically right during the height of a major fund-raising campaign.

  • No Office applications, and firewall gateway software updating costs or upgrading hassles to pay for. Instead you get virtual office applications that are elegantly simpler to use - word processor, drawing application, spreadsheet, forms, and presentation applications... that are automatically updated by Google with new features coming out all the time. Google Voice also has some interesting phone routing applications that distributed workers can take advantage of it. 
Now about a Google Apps website direction itself :
  • Google Sites architecture - Compared with the WordPress administrative "back-end" that forces all users to work at the HTML layer, Google Sites architecture is elegantly simpler. With Google Sites architecture, even non-technical, non-HTML saavy folks can create and edit pages, add pictures and even embed advanced functionality... and Google Apps... "talks" to Google Docs documents. You can even give content contributors their own Google Docs "page" that can be embedded on Google Sites page.  You don't have to be "webmaster dependent" because the architecture is so intuitive and easy to work with. Google Sites architecture...designed by Google itself... the king of search...also indexes phenomenally well .

  • Google Apps Marketplace - In addition to all the free applications, Google has been working with hundreds of third-party developers who have been writing apps that integrate with Google Apps/Google Sites architecture if you need to further extend the functional of your non-profit Google Sites-based website. See how many third-party applications there are.

  • It's the entire systems integration piece that makes the most sense - For me personally, and as a television person, the entire Google Apps for Non-profits direction makes powerful good sense to me. Google's Chrome web browser is marvelous as is having more choice over where you upload your videos and Google Android operating system on smart phones and on Google TV potentially provides non-profits with a lot more power than merely taking a WordPress direction does. I could go on and on... about all the great Google applications most of which are free.
Therefore, before biting the bullet and going down a surprisingly expensive WordPress road and discovering it's many hidden minefields of WordPress webmaster dependency... at least learn more about the advantages of  Google Apps for Non-Profit direction first, because it will deliver for more power for the money invested. This is what I was able to share with her. Call me if you have similar challenges - 425-780-6872.

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