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How to create a web platform for an international campaign

After more than two and a half years with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons I like to share my views on how to build a web based platform for campaign coordination.

It very much combines bottom-up and top-down approaches: empower bottom-up and channel top-down.

Website

The campaign website needs to be an information hub for activists. It is the main target group since they are the multipliers to spread the word. The main goal is to empower them.

Having an international campaign means that we often have regional or local chapters were activists and/or partner organisations are organised in. We like to give them an easy possibility to have their own sites within our platform.

Something like this can be done with WordPress and its  Multisite function. WordPress is a content management system mainly for blogging and awful to work with if you have more complicated content. But since a campaign often can be broken down into content pieces similar to blog posts it should be fine.

The success very much depends on an own template. It should  be under an Open Source license so other chapters of the campaign can use it, even if they host it themselves. Putting the template on GitHub helps for the further development and brings transparency and structure.

I personally like to work with SASS and Foundation. A base for WordPress templates is JointsWP and currently available with Foundation 6. Use widgets to add features in the template.

Internal Blog

It is 2017 and there are thousands of tools to coordinate a group over the Internet. While Slack became a trendy tool in 2016, there are still things around like mailing lists or a forums.

To choose the right tool is difficult and very much depends on the people which need to be coordinated. What can be agreed on is that there needs to be a channel to share campaign news, materials and coordination. This should be done easily without the need to install or use a special application and have an easy navigation.

For this purpose the main website can have an internal blog- And since it is based on WordPress this can be done simple with easy navigation with categories and tags. There can be even discussions in the comment section of each post.

Since this is something more internal, it should be password protected. Everyone get an account and can login to see the blog. So they are logged in. It means blog posts can include one-click-polls and everyone can also write a post. This enables Interaction and pushes for engagement. Something you like your activists to do.

And it can be configured that everyone get an update via email (for example with the plain post text and the link). A plugin is Better Notifications for WordPress. So there is no excuse not to use it.

Social media

No need to say much about social media. There needs to be the possibility to share over different channels. Either by using plugins like MashShare or adding functions to your template.

Metrics, seo and tracking

Hosting most of the content ourselves and providing local and regional chapters there own websites in our system gives us the possibility to track our success and optimise our content well.

Regarding our preferences an own installation of Piwik or  accounts on Google Analytics can be integrated into our WordPress. The Plugin WP-Piwik can be installed as a Network Plugin so that all data stays within the campaign centralised.

Based on the data content can be optimised and concrete planning be done. Using a plugin like Yoast SEO helps to work with the content, too.

Multi media

One of the advantages of a WordPress Multisite Installation is that the Media Libraries can be shared by the sites. The plugin Network Shared Media enables this.

By doing so the media library from the main website can be used by the other. It helps to translate news to other languages and create content in general. Such a general media archive can be charged up against gold. It provides a fast ways to look more professional and save countless hours of time.

One requirement is to maintain this library well. Plugins like Image Source Control help to add meta data. The better it is indexed the better other activists know when and how to use it.

Events and registration

Adding an event management part provides a central tool for registering and saving dates. Instead of using external services like Eventbrite plugins like The Events Calendar and Event Tickets bring the features to do this. In the basic versions they are free. Payment processors for selling tickets are available.

There is the possibility for registering only for logged in users. It is an easy solution to register for internal campaign events.

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