Support for website redevelopment - it's too expensive!
June 6, 2008 2:31 PM   Subscribe

My education website is in major need of an overhaul. However, I can't afford to pay developers the cost price for it. How can I get funding or assistance for this project?

My education blog (linked in my profile) has outgrown its current WP.COM home. It's become a major resource of information for like-minded young people, and I want to harness this capacity further.

I found ExpressionEngine to be the perfect backend for the redeveloped site, and originally I went through EE's Pro Network to find someone who could help me get this site up pro bono. I found one developer, but after a while he found a full-time job and couldn't continue anymore.

I'm just one young person running this site alone; even EE's $99 for a non-profit license is just at the border of what I can afford. I've asked around for help from peers, but the skills of those who piped up are nowhere near what the site needs. I also don't qualify for free webdesign from companies who do non-profit websites because I'm not a registered non-profit. Most of my readers don't have access to PayPal or credit cards so they can't exactly donate to the cause.

Are there any organizations out there that help cases like mine? Where else could I look for support and assistance?

There are a few grants here that I could apply for, but I don't know the exact dollar value for a website redevelopment. How much should I quote in my proposals? Which orgs would be good for this? (The website's mainly geared towards Malaysians, which is CRAP when it comes to grants and funding; however, living in Australia, I can tap into resources here.)

Is it OK for me to look around for developers/designers whose skills and styles are suitable, and ask for assistance? What's the protocol in this case?

There aren't any strict deadlines, though I do have some set requirements for the website.

I really don't want to be one of those sketchy companies that undercut designers/developers and/or ask for spec work; however, I really can't afford what they deserve on my own, and could use some help to give my website the support it needs.
posted by divabat to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
The first thing I suggest you do is try to figure out what actual work you need to have done. The reason that companies can help you with requests like "redevelop this Web site for me" is that they employ designers, developers, system administrators, and all kinds of other people, and they figure out what needs to be done and share out the tasks. If you need work done pro bono, you're probably more in a position of asking individual designers, developers, administrators, etc. to help you with the individual jobs, so you need to know what you're asking each one to do. Just as an example, I've helped people out with things like this before, but your request scares me, because I don't know what I'd be signing up for.

Just to get you started, here's a list of jobs I imagine you might need done. I'm sure I'll include things you don't need and leave out things you do, but maybe this can be a base for you to start from:

- Select and sign up for an appropriate hosting company
- Register and set up a domain name
- Install ExpressionEngine correctly and securely on your hosting account
- Configure ExpressionEngine with the framework (blogroll, RSS feeds, etc.) of your site
- Create a new design for the site
- Apply the design to the site
- Plan a transition and schedule downtime
- Copy posts and comments from WordPress to ExpressionEngine
- Close the old site and redirect visitors to the new one
posted by pocams at 3:03 PM on June 6, 2008

Contact a local college or university and ask if any students would like an unpaid internship. They get the experience and the portfolio addition, you get a free redesign. Unfortunately you might also get what you pay for.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:32 PM on June 6, 2008

Become a registered non-profit.
posted by rhizome at 3:51 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: pocams: I've got a plan already - ExpressionEngine has a handy Pro Network quote form that helps with this.

SuperSquirrel: The irony is that I'm a uni student. haha. I can try asking, good call.

rhizome: Not easy to do. Malaysia doesn't have a straight-forward system of doing this, and it takes YEARS. As it is, the Malaysian government has a weird relationship with blogs, my blog could be misconstrued as "anti-government" (due to a few critical posts), and the orgs that give free redesigns to non-profit only want US-based non-profits.
posted by divabat at 5:33 PM on June 6, 2008

Can you register as a non-profit in Australia? Maybe you could then get more grants through Australia.

I also wonder how difficult it would be to register as a nonprofit in the US; maybe impossible, I really don't know, but it's something to check.

If you could be a nonprofit *somewhere*, you could then apply for monetary grants in whatever country that was.

It may be that you've considered and rejected this course, but spelling that out would help.
posted by amtho at 6:38 PM on June 6, 2008

If you are not a non-profit, but you are doing bookings for speakers, you should start charging a small fee for materials and services. Treat this more as a business that is aimed at helping people overcome issues related to education and lifestyle.

You should also approach your local Rotary Club, which is an active group in Malaysia, and start networking. You may not find it immediately, but in lieu of a business model, you could find a legitimate backer who is interested in working on an interesting educational initiative.
posted by parmanparman at 10:53 PM on June 6, 2008

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