If you're looking for tools to make your website even better, you're in luck. We know all the best resources to improve your site and the best part is—they're free!
There are many places to get beautiful and free images for your website. Here are some of our favorite sites to find beautiful images that are free for commercial use:
Don't let the thought of HTML code steer you away. It’s actually very easy to add a widget to your Jimdo website. Start by adding a new Widget/HTML element. Grab the HTML code from the widget provider of your choice and paste it into the Widget/HTML element on your site. Hit Save, and you’re all done!
Read our post on 20 widgets to improve your website to see our recommendations and follow instructions on how to add them to your website.
The good news is that if you want to use icons, you don't have to create them from scratch. There are lots of websites where you can find well-designed icons that are available for free.
Where do you find icons for your website? You can create custom icons that match the style of your branding at one of the following sites:
Read more about icons and how to put them on your website in our post on Free Website Icons.
But Google Analytics is an important asset to your website. You can find out how your visitors are finding your website, view in-depth statistics, get a breakdown of your site’s audience, find out what other sites are driving traffic to your site, and see a breakdown of how well individual pages of your site are performing. And by regularly checking on your site’s analytics you can drastically improve the success of your site over time.
Here’s the good news. It actually is simple to set up Google Analytics for your site. And once you play around with it for a little while you’ll find it’s not as hard as it looks. You get to see which pages are getting the most clicks, which product pages are performing the best, and make changes to your site and actually see results. And all of this is, of course, free!
Content Marketing and PR at Jimdo
Melissa joined Jimdo in August 2014 to support social media, public relations, and the blog. She has experience in marketing ranging from event management to content marketing. When Melissa isn’t drafting a blog post, you can find her watching stand-up comedy, attending a concert, or rooting for the Oregon Ducks.
Analysis: Cub Scouts Pack 23 stood out from the crowd by demonstrating an amazing active website that uses just about every feature in Jimdo and more. They somehow found a way organize a ton of information, a blog, several forms, password-protected areas and third-party widgets like a Google Calendar into a clean and useful navigational structure. I think this is a great example of how to make a large website on Jimdo.
Analysis: Turning Leaf is a great example of how to take a beautiful logo and extend the look throughout the entire website. I really like the way they handle the selling of their weekly vegetable boxes and lead their customers through the purchasing process. We also liked their About Us page that helps visitors get to know them and their values. I just wish we had an office in Ontario so we could subscribe!
Template: Rio de Janeiro
Analysis: Professor Virgilijus "Virgis" Trakimavicius used the large hero-area in the Rio de Janeiro template to create an impressive portfolio website and showcase his amazing drawing and paper cutting artwork. The website shows off his extensive body of work, several news clippings from media around Europe, and also gives the media and potential clients and customers an easy way to contact him.
LizzieLin Designs deserves a special mention for doing a great job upgrading her website from an old template to Prague, while Mommy Track Fitness is one of the more robust blogs that I've seen on Jimdo with her own system for promoting blog posts on her page. You can see some of the same tricks in our recent article about blog posts.
This year differed from last year as we had a lot of submissions from professional designers. If time is an issue, a great way to reinvent your website is to reach out to some professionals.
The very extensive online wool marketplace Sweater Chalet was originally designed by one of our Jimdo Experts called Pops Digital.
If you're on the hunt for a new Jimdo template, here's why I think you should give ravishing Rio a chance:
Want to try Rio de Janeiro on your own website? Go to Templates in your Site Admin to open the Template Selector, then choose Rio de Janeiro from the list. Don't have a Jimdo site yet? Start a free site with the Rio de Janeiro template here.
If you have a wonderful Jimdo website (using Rio or any of our other new templates), don't forget to enter it in our contest before the end of September to win an Apple Watch Sport or other great prizes!
Content Editor at Jimdo
Maggie joined the team to craft the voice of Jimdo for all products and marketing channels. In her previous work, she edited for organizations covering the environment, cities, and sustainable business. When she's not adding serial commas, you can find her camping with her husband, cooking, and reading New Scientist.
There are some common symptoms of wrong-template-itis: navigation trouble, sidebar issues, and more. Is your website suffering from any of these problems? Let our Template Doctor suggest some solutions for a template reboot:
For your users, it will feel a little silly to have to scroll down to see the rest of your sidebar when you’ve run out of stuff to look at in the main area of your website. As you can see in the example below with the San Francisco template, it feels a bit unbalanced.
Try: Berlin, Cairo, Miami, Malaga, Zurich. You can use the Template Filter to search for templates by sidebar.
Diagnosis: If this is happening to you, the likely culprit is that you’re using a template with a very small logo area. (See the example below, with the Reykjavik template) Some people have no logo at all, or they have a minimalist logo that they prefer to keep small. For those people, templates with small logo areas are perfect. For people who want to display bigger logos, a different template will be in order.
Try: Florence, Prague, Melbourne, Berlin, Riga
In the example below with the Rome template, I’ve put so many menu items in my navigation that it’s covering three different lines. For someone visiting my site for the first time, this navigation is pretty tough to take in at a glance.
Try: Bordeaux, Dublin, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Malaga, Rome
Diagnosis #1: You’re using a template with a left or right sidebar, but it's empty.
Try: Riga, Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro, Zurich
These Jimdo templates have what are called split navigations. This means that part of your primary navigation will show up at the top of the page in your header, and any subpages will appear in a menu further down on the left or right side of the page. Split navigations are great when you have a lot of pages, a multilingual website, or a large store, because you don’t have to struggle with long, complicated drop-down menus.
But if you’re using one of these templates and you don't have subpages, you may end up with some empty spaces that you don’t want. Here’s how it happens:
Below is an example using the Chicago template. In this view I’m on my “Store” page. The primary navigation is at the top like normal, but my subpages underneath Store (Coffee Beans, Tshirts, etc.) appear in a green menu on the right. This is great, and makes my store items really easy to navigate.
However on another part of my website that doesn’t have any subpages, this design doesn’t work as well. When I go to my "Location & Hours" page, which doesn’t have any subpages underneath, you can see that the green menu disappears and leaves me with a blank space on the right.
Try: Verona, Prague, Helsinki, Osaka
Diagnosis: How do you know if you’re using an old or a new template? Click on the Templates icon in your Site Admin to open up the Template Selector. On the far left, you’ll see your current template highlighted. If this has a number underneath, like 4505 or P321, you’re using an old template. The new Jimdo templates are named after cities.
As you hunt for the right template, I suggest taking a closer look at Barcelona. This understated template is easy to design and works well with all kinds of sites, from portfolios to online stores.
Our first example is Caroline Bech’s portfolio/resume, an actress from Amsterdam but currently residing in London to follow her dreams. She sticks to simple fonts and a neutral color scheme that happens to match her photos, giving her website an overall clean look. Right away, she uses a striking image on her homepage to keep the website from being too plain.
Similar to Caroline’s website, Vianne Fotografie focuses on her photography and less on text. Even with the white background, the images gives just the right amount of color to bring the website to life—even her About page relies on cute graphics to describe herself and her interests. The very little text you see in her navigation and blog gives her website a bit of an edge as it is not your average sans serif font (she's using the font "Abel").
Just like the previous examples, this design studio’s website takes clean to a whole nother level by doubling down on white. They've made the background white and their footer as well, for a nice minimalist look. This studio focuses on using beautiful pastel colors and crafty images to make their website stand out. They also use a great mix of both serif and sans serif fonts to differentiate between headings and body text. Although it is still a work in progress, we definitely like the direction they are heading.
Handy craftswoman Sami Garra uses the template Barcelona to sell her super-cute-to-boot crafts and goodies. Instead of the white look, she uses a light shade of gray for her background and offsets it with bright, fun colors to match her products and personality. She also cleverly uses the navigation to have her online store in both Spanish and English—a great use of the template.
This shop website for handmade jewelry really uses Barcelona's large logo area and simple navigation to its advantage. The result is clean, modern, and easy for customers to use. We also love that they've included photographs from their workshop and a page of Soundcloud music files to help describe their inspiration.
This barber's website has broken away from the typical plain-colored background and adds an image of her barbershop to stand out from the rest. Rather than being distracting as you might think, she adds a blur effect and a subtle pattern overlay to help visitors focus on her content. She also shows how simple a Barcelona website can be and still be a success—her website only has three pages!
Eleaxart is an online store that sells clothing and accessories to teenagers. They use a lot of the Jimdo elements to their advantage: To display images next to each other, they placed them in a Photo Gallery element. They eliminated too much scrolling for shoppers by placing products side by side with the Columns element. They also placed their top/new products on the home page to give shoppers an idea of their shop’s style. Along with that, they display many great pictures of their products throughout.
This streetwear store uses the random background feature to make their website stand out from the rest. However, instead of using the typical background image that is full width or height, they only add an image to the top portion to make it look like a header image. You can see how they have three different background options by navigating through their pages, or simply by refreshing your browser. Awesome! The font they're using, "Advent Pro," really helps complete the look.
Similar to Frei Beutler, É-sens cleverly uses the background slider feature to switch between beautiful images that perfectly relate to their products—all natural beauty oils for relaxation. Not only did they find a great way to enhance their website with the background feature, they also used the Style Editors’s color picker to their advantage: When one of the images falls behind the content area, you can ever so slightly see a light white background so that text can still be legible. They also use a great shade of green that is transparent enough to see the background image behind it—an amazing touch and use of the built-in tools.
This example shows that you don’t need the fancy backgrounds or photos—all you need is a great color scheme and eye for design. No Pierdas Tus Libros beautifully sells their book stickers with neutral colors and a bright pink for just the right amount of pop on the website. From the color scheme, to the minimal icons, to the way images and text are displayed, even the font choice ("Open Sans Condensed")—everything about this website is put together wonderfully.
Want to try Barcelona on your own website? Go to Templates in your Site Admin to open the Template Selector, then choose Barcelona from the list. Don't have a Jimdo site yet? Start a free site with the Barcelona template here.
If you have a wonderful Jimdo website (using Barcelona or any of our other new templates), don't forget to enter it in our contest before the end of September to win an Apple Watch Sport or other great prizes!
Customer Support Geek at Jimdo
As a Customer Support Geek, Aeramis strives to help Jimdo's customers by sharing her web expertise. She is a talented graphic designer, and she works on a number of web projects in her free time. When she isn't answering your questions about Jimdo, Aeramis loves to travel and eat good food.
Lots of people redoing their site ask us about their sidebar: why is it there, and what should go in it? Though sidebars can be a bit puzzling at first, they are a great way to display important information about you—and fast.
In this post, I'll go over some of the basics on choosing a template with a sidebar and show real-life examples of Jimdo websites with sidebars that work well.
For example, say I have my own online shop for selling photographs. Here’s my wish list. I want:
Now, that I have an idea of what I want out of my site, I’ll start looking for a template that can match my wish list. How do I do this? Focus on the features.
For more template tips, check out How to Pick the Perfect Template for Your Website.
If you’ve browsed through Jimdo’s template filter you might have noticed that some templates have similar features. One of these features is the sidebar.
The sidebar is your secondary content area. It usually looks like a narrow strip on the side of your website. The cool thing about the sidebar is that it shows up exactly the same on every page of your site. But what that also means is that, you guessed it...you only want to put things here that you want to show up on every page of website—like contact information, social media links, or any other “can’t miss” items.
The sidebar can show up on the left, right, or on the bottom of your site. Many people like to have a template where the sidebar is located on the bottom of the page so it serves as the footer. In this post, I’ll focus on templates with a sidebar that sticks true to it’s name and shows up on the right or left side of the template.
Of course, a left/right sidebar won't be for everyone:
With many templates, you can choose whether your sidebar is on the right or left side by selecting the template variation you want in the Template Selector.
Here are examples of sites that use the Dublin Template:
Here are examples of sites that use the Helsinki template:
Here are examples of sites that use the San Francisco template:
Here are examples of sites that use the Amsterdam template:
Now that you know how sidebars can work, why not try one out on your own site? Once you've upgraded to a new template, we'd love for you to enter our contest and show off what you've built! If you have any other tips for using a sidebar, let us know in the comments below.
Last year, Jimdo released our new Style Editor along with more than 30 modern, streamlined templates. It was our biggest product update yet. Since then, lots of Jimdo customers have upgraded to new templates to use all the newest designs and features.
But some of our customers are still using the old Jimdo—or should we say the “vintage” variety. It’s a nice option, but with nowhere near the functionality of the new version. Below we've got some reasons (and a contest!) that might convince you to make the switch.
But, there are some definite perks to choosing a new template:
Just a few examples of websites using our new templates are below:
How do I know if my template is new or old? If you signed up for Jimdo after August 2014, you’re automatically using a new template. If you’re not sure, it’s easy to check. Log in to your website and click on Templates in your Site Admin. This will open the Template Selector. The first thumbnail on the left will show your current template. If it’s named after a city like Chicago or Malaga, it’s new! If it’s called by a number like F4045 or P4240, it’s, well….how do we put this delicately? It’s old.
To help you choose the right one for you, we recommend reading How to Pick the Perfect Template and looking through our Template Filter.
Earlier this week I talked about how to create each individual blog post using Jimdo. All by themselves, these blog posts are just like standalone pages of your website. Next we need to find a way to get website visitors to find and read the posts and connect each post in a blog roll.
Blogging, the act of posting regular updates about a particular topic on a website, is one of the most popular methods of publishing on the internet. By looking at some of the statistics from the largest blogging platforms, we know that there are at least 250 million blogs on the internet today. These range from teenagers ranting about video games in their bedrooms to massive, multi-author sites like Boing Boing or even a site like Huffington Post which demonstrates the blurry lines between a blog and an online newspaper. When it comes to building a blog on your Jimdo website, you’re probably looking for something squarely in the middle of those examples.
The internet is the nonprofit’s shop window. It’s the way that people find a charity dedicated to the issues they care about. It’s how prospective employees or volunteers discover opportunities. And it’s how donors may decide where to put their money.
So a well-designed website is one of the top methods for how a charity can generate attention, promote its work, build trust, and elevate its impact. Follow the advice below to create the best website for your nonprofit.
Note: Jimdo provides free website hosting for your not for profit or charity website. It's free now and forever, but you can always upgrade to JimdoPro for a very affordable custom domain name (website address) and other great features.
Primary information is the most important and high-level, and should appeal to the broadest of audiences. Ask yourself the question: If someone didn’t know anything about my organization, what would I tell them? This primary information should be accessible on your homepage “above the fold,” or before the point at which visitors need to scroll down to see more of the page.
Secondary information is any content that readers will need to dig a little deeper to get. This can be hyper-detailed content that would only appeal to niche audiences, such as landing pages for research papers, sub-projects within a larger body of work or theme, or very detailed descriptions of your work on a particular topic or in a specific region of the world. It can also include archived or dated material, such as descriptions of inactive projects, past events, or previous campaigns. You can still link to this information from primary content pages, but it should not have a presence on the homepage.
Primary or homepage content will vary depending on the organization, but a general rule of thumb is to give visitors easy access to information on what the organization is, what it does and where it works, the impact it’s made, and how people can get involved. Some of this information will be displayed on the homepage itself; other parts should be accessible via large links or menu items at the top or side of the page. Some best practices apply to these top-tier pieces of content:
Elevator pitch: This one- or two-sentence description quickly and succinctly lets first-time visitors know who you are and what you do. Considering the fact that roughly 55 percent of users spend 15 seconds or fewer on a webpage before navigating away, it’s important to include this snippet high up on the homepage.
In addition to an elevator pitch, you may also want to include a short tag line near the organization’s logo. A tag line, even shorter than an elevator pitch, uses only a few words to describe a not-for-profit’s mission. A few examples include:
About: Include a prominent “About Us” menu item on the homepage that links to a longer description of the organization’s mission and work. This text—roughly three to four paragraphs—should answer questions like:
Be sure to include hyperlinks to other relevant pages—it’s a great way to help readers find more comprehensive “secondary content” on your website.
For a more robust “About Us” presence, consider including a drop down menu under the main tab to other relevant high-level pages, such as “Mission and Values,” “Staff,” “Jobs,” ”History,” or “Contact Us.”
Impact: It’s important to show visitors your work, not just tell them about it. Include a menu item that features stories of impact or outcomes that can be attributed to your organization. Common headings for this type of tab include "What We Do,"" "Our Impact,"" "Success Stories,"" or simply, "Our Work.""
Multimedia can enhance these stories. Research shows that the brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text—be sure to include powerful photographs or videos of your work in action. You can also consider displaying examples of impact via a gallery or interactive, embeddable timeline (such as those from Tiki Toki, Dipity or TimeGlider) to create a more dynamic look and feel.
Get Involved: A call-to-action is an essential part of any effective website—especially for nonprofits, which are dependent on financial and volunteer support. Make it easy for visitors to find out how they can make a donation, volunteer, find a job or become a member. This is also a great place to include newsletter sign-ups and social media buttons. You can use Jimdo’s Button element to create a call-to-action that matches your site.
Testimonials: Just like with a business, testimonials count for a lot. Think about including first-person accounts from people you have helped or donors you have worked with. These can be written testimonials, or short videos of people describing how your organization helped them.
Charity ratings, badges and certifications: Add the icons of any larger organizations you belong to, or any certifications, charity ratings, or awards your group has received. Your sidebar, footer, or About Page would be a good place to put these.
Financials: Many successful charities and nonprofits share information on their finances, showing where their funding goes, who their donors are, and what percentage goes directly to services as opposed to overhead or fundraising. You should also state whether you are a tax-deductible 501(c)3 organization and provide your Federal Tax ID Number.
News: Include a list of recent press releases and media advisories your organization has disseminated, as well as links to news articles that mention your nonprofit. If your organization is especially engaged in media outreach and receives frequent coverage, you may want to include a dedicated “News” or “Media Center” tab on the homepage. Make sure to list at least one staff member journalists and other visitors can contact for more information.
Start a blog: A blog is a great way to consistently talk about your work, impact, organizational updates and expertise. Many nonprofits will feature a “Blog” tab in their topline navigation so that visitors can easily find timely web content. Publishing at least one post a week can also act as a hook for attracting people to your website through search engine results. According to Nonprofit Hub, business-to-business companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads than those that don’t.
Use a custom domain name: Your own custom website address (www.your-organization.org) helps show that your charity or cause is the real deal.
Keep the design clean: It may be tempting to crowd your homepage with lots of text and information, but resist! Visitors respond to a clean, easily navigable design and layout. Use white space. Keep text light. And use hyperlinks to direct readers to more comprehensive, topic-specific content.
Include visuals: More and more nonprofits are creating visually driven homepages. Compelling photos, videos and infographics help convey your message without cluttering the page with too much text.
Focus on your writing: Your homepage and web content can be major hooks for attracting new supporters. Many visitors will arrive to the site without much knowledge of who you are and what you do. Don’t scare them off with wonky, technical lingo or poorly written prose! Use plain language. Keep sentences to 35 words or fewer. Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors. And avoid passive voice. For more writing tips, check out 11 Golden Rules of Writing Content for Your Website.
Add a "Donate" button: Assuming one of your goals is to collect donations on your website, it’s easy to install a widget on your website to do so. We recommend the PayPal widget—it’s simple to install on your website and connects directly to your PayPal account. Make sure you have a prominent link in your top navigation to Donate. If that’s what people want to do, you want to make it easy for them.
Promote, promote, promote: The old movie mantra “If you build it, they will come” is only partially true on the web. Make sure you’re promoting your web content through social media, e-newsletters, in your email signature and on printed collateral like brochures and postcards.
Now, with an effective, well-structured homepage and website, you’ve got a major tool to help attract new supporters, elevate your work and help change the world!
Sarah is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, MD. Her work has also appeared in Popular Science, Audubon, OnEarth, GOOD, Grist.org, Inhabitat.com, and several other publications. When she's not creating compelling online content, Sarah enjoys reading, cooking, watching bad reality TV, and pampering her dog, Clancy.