04/09/2019

Personifest 2019 Presentation: "3 Professional Wild Apricot Magic Tricks"

You are convinced that Wild Apricot is a great fit for your organization. You got all the basics setup. But there are lingering thoughts — will it really do everything you need? Culled from several years of experience deploying Wild Apricot for organizations around the world, this presentation will illustrate the true transformative power of Wild Apricot.

NewPath Consulting will share three tricks: Website Design with CSS, Multi-chapter Member Directory Magic, and Professional Reports and Analytics.

 

04/01/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Spreading the Word and Training

Step 10: Spreading the Word and Training
Step 10: Spreading the Word and Training

Congratulations, your painstaking planning and collective efforts have finally come to fruition!

By now you should be confident that everyone who has worked with you to this point has a stronger understanding of:

 

  • How to clean up and migrate your member and contact database into Wild Apricot
  • How to plan, design and create a Wild Apricot-powered website
  • How to configure, test and launch your Wild Apricot website

 

With every well-functioning system comes a plan to keep it running smoothly. As you settle into using your new membership database day-to-day, you will enjoy the benefits of having chosen Wild Apricot.

To complete our 11-part series to membership management success, here are some best practices for keeping your Wild Apricot running smoothly. These tips include knowledge transfer to other staff and volunteers, training and an ongoing support model to ensure your prospective members and current members continue to receive value from your website.

Invite people to your new ‘home’

Letting members know about your new website is a key step to generating initial excitement. Begin by creating a launch email that introduces your new website to your members. Wild Apricot has created a New Member Guide that you can reuse and tailor for the website announcement and future communications.

You can send password reset instructions in your new site announcement email blast, so members can easily log in and set up their own passwords. For example, you can create a short video featuring your executive director or a volunteer member to explain how simple the website is to use. Featuring your own members really grabs attention and gets the message across!

Tip: Include the reset password macro in your message. You can also assign passwords when creating or updating contacts manually.

Keep everyone on the same page  –  start an operational manual

An operational manual is important to document for all organizational staff and volunteers. This document will help all administrators and volunteers maintain and improve your system. Long-term marketing and improvement of the website content will ensure your members stay engaged and continue to value and become aware of your organization's benefits. You will get the greatest benefit from Wild Apricot when there is more than one person involved in managing the system, just in case someone decides to retire, switch jobs or stops volunteering.

This is also a good time to decide which administrators will be assigned to your site. One of the hardest things to do is to find unpaid volunteers to maintain technology systems. Your organization may need to incent volunteers to do this maintenance. Some organizations decide to allocate a few thousand dollars per year and outsource the maintenance of Wild Apricot. This may include populating the event system or helping with email marketing campaigns.

Administrators will have ability to make changes to contacts, members, administrate website pages and send out email to your database. You should assign your account administrators and their roles and provide some training to them. Here is an ideal set of administrative roles:

  • a primary and backup full-access administrator
  • a primary and backup website and  membership administrator
  • an event and email newsletter administrator

In many organizations, there will be at most one or two people who will provide ongoing administrative support. NewPath Consulting estimates that at least 5 to 10 hours per month should be spent managing Wild Apricot, and in some larger organizations this role could be a part-time job.

If your business has only one person managing your account(s), make sure you have a plan for how these critical tools will be managed when and if that person is suddenly unavailable.

NewPath Consulting offers concierge-level support for Wild Apricot customers under our Bronze customer care plan. You may choose to do this rather than depending on your volunteer base.

Managing security and credentials

As part of your operational plan, your staff and volunteers should setup a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to securely record all passwords. You should include all:  

  • Wild Apricot administrator accounts
  • domain name control panel credentials
  • payment system credentials
  • email inboxes configured on the account
  • test Wild Apricot member accounts

Expand your reach …

Now that you’re up-and-running, it’s time to engage your community.

Even though you’ve launched, during these first few weeks, you can start recording feedback and take care of crucial issues, too!

You can use the new poll or survey gadget or set up a contact form on your website to collect comments. Then, prioritize what you think should be fixed right away and what wait until later.

It’s not all about fixing problems. Start reporting on your successes as well --  to your members, your board, your volunteers and other supporters. Discuss with them how to use what your new system offers to execute your organization’s strategic plan.

NewPath Consulting has been working on several reporting and design management tools for Wild Apricot so get in touch with us to find out more! 

Extend mobile access to members and administrators

Now that you’ve established your site and system administrators, you can give the Wild Apricot admin mobile app a try for a more flexible option. There are iOS and Android apps that can make it quite easy to send out email blasts to members and maintain your Wild Apricot website on the go.

Want your members to reach you more easily, too? Post a link to Wild Apricot’s members-only mobile app on your website and an email blast.

You’ve made it!

Increase Your Skill Level
Increase Your Skill Level

Thank you for reading our 11 Steps to Membership Management Success. We hope you’ll feel that you were able to follow along with  and learn all the key things you had to do.

You should now be able to keep your new membership management system running in a way meets the needs of your board, your members and prospective members for a long time to come! You’ve built your new home and opened the door up wide … but if you missed any part of the foundation, you might risk something falling through once people start coming in to have a look around.

A complete Wild Apricot migration that includes all 11 steps you’ve completed usually takes 2 to 5 months and  between 100 and 200 hours to complete. The work requires equal commitment on the part of the organization’s project committee and the consulting vendor if applicable.

NewPath Consulting provides a fixed cost package to migrate to Wild Apricot. And if you’ve gotten all the way to this step on your own, you may only need a few pieces to complete the puzzle, we offer hourly Wild Apricot coaching services.

Do you need help maintaining your Wild Apricot system now that it is running? Get in touch with us to find out more about your pro-level options!

 

03/29/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Launching Your Site

Step 9: Launch
Step 9: Launch Your Wild Apricot System


You are finally ready for launch. Hooray!

Here is a checklist to help you count down to a smooth launch:

#

Step

What to do

Feedback

1

Is your site loading under your new domain name?

Check the necessary Wild Apricot steps for adding a custom domain.


If you are running an old website, you will log in to the domain control panel and point your domain to a new “A” record.

Ensure that your domain name registrar control panel is easily accessible pre-launch, so you can make the needed domain name record changes. You may wish to leave your old website running under an “old” subdomain like oldsite.mydomain.org.


There are a few more other domain name records you should add to avoid your email getting put into your members’ spam folder.

2

Go live on your online payment system (optional)

If you decided to take payments online, switch your online payment mechanism to “live.”

 

3

Check privacy settings for members

Test the privacy settings for members to make sure members are assigned default privacy settings for their profile. This is how their information will be displayed for the public and for other members, if at all.

 

4

Outgoing email address

If you want to send email on behalf of an organizational mailbox (rather than a default Wild Apricot mailbox) you will need to configure a custom domain and email settings.

 

5

Install a security certificate

Since Wild Apricot sites are transactional, your organization will collect private information as well as financial data, and therefore must be secured with SSL. Thus, you should also purchase or obtain an SSL certificate before launching under a custom domain name.

Tip:

Use this free SSL certificate checker to check the quality of your certificate.

 

6

Test your website’s performance

Test performance and mobile responsiveness for both the public and members only pages, and fix any issues. Tip: Use Google’s Test My Site for the win!

 

7

Sit back and relax -- you’re done!

This one may be the easiest—toast your new website and CELEBRATE!

Celebrate Your Wild Apricot Website Launch!

 

It’s crucial to do these steps correctly. Get help if you are unsure! Contact us for advice.

Watch for our next and final step, where you’ll get tips on how to maintain strong momentum with your new system post-launch.

03/27/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Field Test Your New Wild Apricot Website

Step 8: Field Test Your New Wild Apricot website
Step 8: Field Test Your New Wild Apricot website

You’ve got your shiny new website, database and payment system set up! It’s time to countdown to launch day. But first, you want to make sure everything runs smoothly before you open your front door to your members.

Ready … set … TEST

You’ve worked through a lot over the previous seven steps, and you have learned a lot to get to here. But, testing is a critical step — you do not want to rush your launch!  

Testing your new system can be as simple as testing your website with the people on your board of directors and a few of your organization’s members. This is especially true if you are migrating from an old website and database system.

With Wild Apricot things probably could not be more different from what you may be used to!  Testing the new system and addressing any critical pieces of feedback will ensure your board and members deliver a well-functioning system that reflects the pride in your organization’s mission!

While it’s in development, your website is already live under a test domain name (e.g. myorg.wildapricot.org), but the site is not running under your organization’s official domain name. Here are some test scenarios you may want to review while testing:

  • Can a new visitor quickly find the information they are seeking?
  • Can a returning member login to the website?
  • Can a visitor register for an event? Can they log in to register as a member?
  • Can a visitor become a new member?
  • Can a member update their profile and renew their membership?
  • Do online payment transactions, if applicable, process smoothly and quickly?

Getting volunteers to test

An organized testing plans requires two things:

  • a list of volunteers to test your new site
  • a list of steps you wish to test

You should choose volunteers who are willing to review the site and provide constructive feedback. Create a table to identify confirmed volunteer testers and record all scheduled test appointments.

Name

Phone

Email

Tester’s tech platform (Mac/PC/Tablet/Phone)

Assigned script to test

Technology testing (browser and version)

Scheduled appointment (in person/web conference?)

The ideal approach to testing is to create a “script” of step-by-step procedures that your volunteer testers will work through. It is best to do this in a coordinated fashion (rather than letting them randomly go through it on their own). Have someone on the phone or preferably on a web conference call, which you can record for later review.

While the testing is happening, have someone take notes of issues that appear and document them on a to-do list. This list should be prioritized to determine what to fix before launch.

Writing a test script

A test script is a great way to have testers and volunteers review your new Wild Apricot website. When you work through testing in a more formal way, you will get tens and even hundreds of pieces of feedback. The more testers, the more feedback.

It may feel overwhelming, but this “customer” feedback is invaluable and should be collected as long as your site is running. This is the primary means of addressing issues that will help you serve members best, and build an easy-to-use website that will inform and influence new visitors and prospective members.

Here is a sample test script you can use to test the look and feel of your website. You can have the volunteer fill this out or, better yet, record these steps as your volunteer tests the steps.

 

#

Step

What to do

Feedback

1

Load home page

type in the domain name for your Wild Apricot site (eg myorg.wildapricot.org)

 

2

Load home page on mobile device

use your smartphone and load your website



Is your site easy to read and use on a mobile device?

3

Membership signup

click join page and try to sign up for a membership; there is need to complete a full membership at this time

 

4

Log in as a password

Click Login and try to login; reset your password if necessary

 

5

Members Only content

Navigate to Member Tools and ensure you see new pages or navigation content

 

6

Find an event

Go to Event calendar section

 

7

Register for an event as a member

Work through a registration for an event with restricted registration types for  members only

 

8

Check out online in “test” mode

Work through an online transaction (make sure online payment system is in test mode)

 

 

TIP: To test users who are logged-out but still keep your admin view up in a regular window, use incognito browser windows.

 

Testing – it’s easier than you may think

With three to seven friendly and feedback-oriented members or a few active board members, you can easily run a field test of your website online or in person.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend at least 10–25 hours preparing and performing a usability test including five people – that’s before you actually implement any of the suggestions.

Thankfully, with Wild Apricot, each usability issue you prioritize for a well-designed Wild Apricot website needs only a 5–10 minute fix!

Still need some help …?

NewPath Consulting runs formal field tests with all of our customers during the test phase, using our web conferencing solution. Results from the usability test can be implemented before launch or over the first several weeks and months of the new website and membership system.

Contact us to learn more.

 

The “dress rehearsal” is over! In the next article you will learn the six key checklist items for launching your new site without a glitch.

03/06/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Configure the Payment System

Step 7: Configure Your Payment System
Step 7: Configure Your Payment System

 

In the previous steps on planning and building your Wild Apricot website, you built your organization’s new “front door,” where you welcome prospective members to learn more about your organization and join. You also enabled current members to renew their membership, register for an event at a member discount, or access information only available for members.

Wild Apricot should be used for more than just informing and influencing members. Wild Apricot also helps you save time and earn more revenue by enabling ecommerce on your organization's website. But before you can do that you will need to enable a payment system to accept online payments securely.

In this step you’ll set up the a payment system to process payments made by your members in the way that suits you best. A payment system will also help administrators and volunteers accept money at an event as well as process registrations, renewals and donations on behalf of members who are not comfortable with providing credit cards online.

You need to do a few things if you wish to accept credit cards through Wild Apricot:

  1. select the appropriate supported payment system for your organization
  2. configure your selected online payment system
  3. test your payment system with a few sample transactions
  4. go live with your payment system

For processing online payments, you have several options: one of several supported,  third-party payment systems or Wild Apricot Payments, the preferred payment system introduced in 2018. NewPath Consulting discussed the benefits of Wild Apricot Payments in an article on our blog. But there are also several good reasons for choosing a payment system other than Wild Apricot Payments:

  • Your organization has selected another payment system which is actively integrated into your organization and used potentially by other websites or apps.
  • Your organization does not want to ask members to re-establish recurring memberships.
  • Your organization has negotiated a preferential transaction fee structure (less than 2.9% + 0.30c per transaction).

If your organization chooses not to use Wild Apricot Payments, a 20% Payment System Servicing Fee will be charged. Note, this fee is not based on the amount of your organization’s online revenue. The 20% payment system servicing fee is applied to your Wild Apricot monthly or yearly software licence fee. For example, if your organization pays $50 per month for the Wild Apricot "Group" tier, and you do not choose Wild Apricot Payments, you will pay $60 per month instead.

The Payment System Servicing Fee does not apply to you if:

  • Your organization has not enabled online payments.
  • Your organization is using Wild Apricot Payments as the online payment system.
  • Your organization is based outside the US or Canada.

NewPath Consulting recommends doing a cost analysis to see whether choosing Wild Apricot Payments or staying with your current payment system is worth the 20% servicing fee. On the smaller Wild Apricot plans like “Personal” or “Community” you can avoid the risk of switching payment systems, and incur the 20% servicing fee, which could be offset from a potential loss of any preferential transaction fee pricing or loss of  recurring revenue from members who do not re-establish their recurring membership profiles.

We believe very small organizations already using Wild Apricot, who are not using Wild Apricot Payments, can least afford to incur lower revenues by switching payment systems. We also recommend new Wild Apricot customers choose Wild Apricot Payments unless there is a compelling reason not to (e.g. your organization is outside of US or Canada). Many new interesting financial features will be deployed on Wild Apricot Payments, and only on Wild Apricot Payments. Wild Apricot Payements, after all, is billed as the "preferred" payment system. The other supported payment systems may not receive the same love as Wild Apricot Payments going forward and may not get new Wild Apricot-integrated features or benefits.

Wild Apricot Payment Selection Scenarios

The following table illustrates several organizational scenarios. You may want to adapt these scenarios to your organization when considering the potential cost or savings from switching to Wild Apricot Payments.

 

 

Organization 1

Organization 2

Organization 3

Organization 4

Wild Apricot Plan

Group ($50/month)

Community ($90/month)

Professional ($144/month billed annually)

Network ($261/month billed annually)

Current payment system

PayPal Payments Standard

PayPal Payments Pro

Stripe

Stripe

Currency

CAD

USD

EUR

USD

Payment System Monthly Fee

$0

$35

$0

$0

Payment System Transaction Fees

2.9% + 0.30c per transaction

2.9% + 0.30c per transaction

2.9% + 0.30c per transaction

2.9% + 0.30c per transaction

Annual revenue

CAD $35,000

USD $80,000

EUR 150.000

USD $300,000

Annual transaction fees

250 online transactions: $1,090 in fees

750 online transactions: $2,965

2000 online transactions: EUR 4.950

3000 online transactions: $9,600

Annual Payment System Servicing Fee

$120 added to Group plan per year

$216 added to Community plan per year

N/A

$626 added to Network plan per year

Annual Wild Apricot Payment transaction fees

$1,090

$2,545

N/A

$9,600

Lost Recurring Memberships*

none

none

none

20 (1% of members)

Recurring Membership Revenue Loss

$0

$0

EUR 0

One time loss of $2,000 in revenue, assuming $100 per year membership fee

Recommendation

Stay on PayPal Standard, extra $120 cost is negligible (0.3% of revenue)

Switch to Wild Apricot Payments, realize savings of $636 in transaction fees plus potential Payment System Servicing Fee

Stay on Stripe, Payment Servicing Fee does not apply to organizations in Europe

Switch to Wild Apricot Payments, realize an annual savings of $626 in Payment System Servicing Fee

* Lost recurring memberships may occur when changing online payment systems. If your organization has existing recurring memberships established with members, they will need to re-establish the recurring payment on the new payment system. The Wild Apricot help system describes this process.

Which payment methods will you choose?

Setting up your payment methods depends on how your organization prefers to accept payment for membership signups, renewals, event registrations, online store purchases or donations.

Your organization can accept payment manually (aka “offline”), online with a credit card or provide your member the choice of paying offline or with a credit card.

You can also set up a preferred payment method other than the global setting when managing the online store, creating or editing a membership level or creating  an event type.

Do you prefer to just generate invoices for manual payments, such as by cash, cheque or wire transfer?  If you turn on manual payments, you enable an invoice to be generated for later payment and your organization will not need to configure a payment system.

If you decide you wish to manually accept credit cards, you can still configure Wild Apricot Payments, and take credit cards through the virtual terminal capability instead of taking payments online.

If you prefer online payments only instead, you can turn off manual payments in the payment method for each membership level and for each event.

To accept both online and manual payments, configure both payment methods, so you can take payments online and record offline payments. This is usually what most organizations do.

You’ll learn how to test your whole Wild Apricot system and website in Step 8 – only three more to go!

 

02/22/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

 

Step 6 - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO
Step 6 - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

The events module is the most powerful and rich part of Wild Apricot. Events are one of the most, if not the most, popular ways to generate revenue and add value for members of your organization. Events, like web pages, can be:

  • published to the public or restricted to various audiences.
  • free or paid, simple RSVP or advanced
  • span one or more days and can have multiple registration types, or types of tickets

The secret to mastering the events module is to understand how registration types work along with the registration form and custom fields. If you configure the event to work exactly how you need it to it will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort and simplify the pre-event data collection process as well as the event check-in process.

Remember, events are part of your website content. In fact when you publish an event a “web page” is created by Wild Apricot with its own link. Events have a unique link in Wild Apricot that can be shared. Events can show up in the event gadgets throughout your site pages or page templates.

The registration type is a really handy way to create different types of tickets. For example, one registration type can be setup for the public, and another can be setup for members only with a discounted price. So, if an active member logs into the website they will see the special registration type (aka ticket) with a price discount, whereas the public will see a publicly offered event price. Some organizations incent contacts to become members just to get the special event price, which can be done in the event description and email call to action. There are lots of special configuration settings for registration types including allowing guest registration and setting ticket maximums and early bird pricing.

This is the best way to engage your members and deliver value. Create events, invite your contacts and members and watch your community grow! There’s more information to help you: Wild Apricot’s events setup checklist gives a handy step-by-step for setting up events.

Advanced Content and Member Searches & Membership Groups

The advanced search features (contact and members) are an important way to create reports and segments of your database. Mastering searching is mastering the art and science of database management!

Advanced searches are not only useful reporting tools; they also allow you to target members of your database with emails or create custom member directories. When you save advanced searches you can reuse them over and over. The search results is dynamic based on the criteria you assign to a saved search.

Membership groups can be used to create groups of members (e.g., your board of directors). Access control to pages can be restricted to not only various membership levels but also to membership groups. This is the best way to create a set of pages only available to a subset of members no matter what level they may be at. Note that contacts cannot be part of a membership group, and a member can be part of more than 1 membership group.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How will new members interested in your organization or community find you online? And more importantly, how will you attract people to your organization for fundraising or growing your membership? What would people search for when seeking an organization with services like yours?

To improve your site’s ranking in search results, Wild Apricot features search engine optimization features that can be added to your site content.

Make sure the keywords that describe your organization and its mission appear early in your content and in your meta keywords. Wild Apricot allows you to add a global set of meta tags as well as create a custom set of tags for every page you build in Wild Apricot.

Wild Apricot, by default, assigns numeric links to page titles, which  may not be very search engine-friendly. You can improve your site’s findability with:

  • customized page titles
  • description meta tags
  • you can also add a collection of favicons so that your website is appropriately branded in web browsers and mobile home screens.


Read more on SEO in the Wild Apricot help site.

Social Media

Similar to search engine results, links to social media need to be managed in a specific way with Wild Apricot websites.

Social media networks will try to infer various pieces of information about your web pages, such as a summary of a blog post, a specific page preview and your featured image for the page.

These elements may or may not load properly from your website. But there are quick fixes you can apply so they load properly:

  • You can use this social media optimization toolset from to take the guesswork out of setting up your pages ready for social media.
  • Learn to change your preview image right from the Wild Apricot help pages. You can modify your images to readily publish OpenGraph tags that will optimize an ideal social media sharing experience ensuring that the format, image size, title and description of your post is optimized for popular social media platforms like Facebook.

Configure Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Do you know how many people visit your website? And whether your site is properly indexed by Google?

Installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console is quite easy. You can use the Global Javascript option to insert the proper code for any third-party tracking system.

Ready to migrate? More info is coming to help you …

You’ve come a long way in this process … and you’ll see it come to fruition soon! Get ready to configure the payment system, the engine that will bring revenue into your organization.

Watch for this guidance our next chapter: Configure Your Payment System

 

02/20/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Create Your Website

Step 5 - Create Your Website
Step 5 - Create Your Website

 

Now that you’ve selected a theme and created a few page templates, you can use start to create your organization’s website pages.

Based on several Wild Apricot customers we have worked with, we recommend making pages in parallel with the master file import process. Setting up access control for website pages depends on the database configuration that is defined during database configuration and populated during the master file import, so it is good idea to work on this step and the import together.  This is where the rubber hits the road and you can see how the website interacts with the Wild Apricot database closely.

Page Template Management

If you want to reassign a page template to one or more pages, you’ll need to do this individually for each page – so wait until you have your page templates set up, before starting to create additional pages based on existing page templates.

The most common way to make page templates is to duplicate existing page templates you are happy with and make alterations to the duplicate page templates for a specific purpose such as a section of pages. A good way to start to design your website is to first create your top-level pages and one sub-page, assigning the appropriate page template to the new pages.

We have found a popular approach is to have a home page template, one standard template for all public pages and one or more members’ only page templates used for content relevant to members.

Populate All the Pages

We suggest mapping out your website's information architecture in Excel or in a diagram before you start designing the website. The diagram below illustrates a simple website information architecture.

Information Architecture

Here are some guidelines for organizing your pages:

  • A Wild Apricot page can be configured to be viewed by certain audiences: everyone (public), for members only or for Wild Apricot administrators only.
  • Pages can also be configured so that they are included — or not — in the primary navigation menu of the website.
  • If a page is configured to be “not in menu,” it can still be linked to from another page's content. This is a powerful way to simplify the menu system and help visitors navigate the website without a deep navigation system which could confuse visitors.
  • There are also  system pages that support various transactions and website interactions. They can be redesigned as well and all use a page template. Don’t forget them as many visitors will end up on a system page at least once every visit, for example when logging into the website!

Several tips for writing for the web

Overhauling your website no doubt will mean lots of writing and editing, either to create new pages or to revise or even rewrite your existing pages. Here are a few important considerations as you edit:

What voice do you use to address site visitors?

  • Is the writing interesting and engaging … or will their eyes start to glaze over while they look for another link to click?
  • Speaking of links: are they prominent and easy to find, with a consistent placement on each page?
  • Does the site use  friendly tone of voice that speaks directly to the reader, written in the first and second person? Words like “we,” “us,” “our,” “you” and “your” are almost always preferred on organizations that are smaller.

Is it clear what visitors can do on your website?

  • Can new and repeat visitors understand how to login to your website, renew their membership or register for an event?
  • Are your marketing “calls to action” clear? Pages to support specific actions need clear instructions and buttons or links.

Is the language direct and active?

  • Website copy should be mostly shorter sentences and paragraphs, with scannable headlines and sections. You can also use point-form lists to break down information.


Remember, effective websites inform and encourage action. People will more often be on your site to learn, engage and do something.

Wild Apricot Gadgets: the key to good page design

Placing gadgets on a page or page template is the key technique to inform your audience and help them interact with your organization.

Wild Apricot offers 33 useful and powerful gadgets that are used to compose pages and page templates. There are 5 categories of gadgets in the system, and they are listed below in order of frequency of use:

  • Content
  • Membership
  • Navigation
  • e-Commerce
  • Community

The lists below are not exhaustive, but these are the gadgets that we tend to used most often in site design.

Content Gadgets
Content gadget

Most commonly used gadget for formatted text, images, audio, video or a button.

Slideshow gadget

An interactive photo slideshow with optional links to pages.

Upcoming events gadget

Displays a list of upcoming events that have been configured in the Events module

 

Membership Gadgets
Membership application gadget

A form to help prospective members apply to become active members

Member directory gadget

An interactive member directory for the public or members

 

Navigation Gadgets

Menu gadget

A dynamic navigation menu that includes all menus in pages automatically.

Secondary menu gadget

A configurable, static menu that helps visitors navigate to any pages.

 

e-Commerce Gadgets
Catalog gadget

Displays an online store for physical and digital goods and services

Donation form gadget

A configurable form to collect donations from visitors and members

 

Community Gadgets
Discussion forum gadget

Enables visitors and members to have interactive, threaded conversations on the website

Subscription form gadget

A form to collect email addresses for a newsletter or email mailing list

Polls, Elections and Surveys

Conduct research with your membership base

Need a custom form?

Collecting information in a form (like a grant application or a job posting) is currently not possible in Wild Apricot. We use software as a service form builders to create custom forms to enable custom data collection and storage of submissions.

Tip: At NewPath Consulting we use Formstack as a tool to:

  • add dynamic forms to collect arbitrary data including file uploads
  • design surveys, grant applications and custom processes
  • accomplish a lot of what Wild Apricot cannot do out of the box

An example can be an online grant application or a complex event registration that has lots of conditional logic (fields collected only when other fields fit a specific criterion).

Files and documents can also be linked into pages and accessed by the public or by members only. You can store files in your Wild Apricot website and make files available for download including Acrobat PDF files, Microsoft Office documents, rich media files like videos and compressed zip files.

How do you publish events?

Publishing events is one of the most powerful modules in Wild Apricot. Learn how and more in the next article in this series.

Read the next chapter: Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

 

02/01/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Plan Your Website – Page Templates, Layouts and CSS

 

Plan Your Wild Apricot Website
Step 4 - Planning your Wild Apricot website

You’ve taken great care planning your database using our previous posts, and now it is time to design your new website. The website builder is one of the most powerful tools in Wild Apricot. Yet, we find it is the one least understood by administrators.

Getting the fundamentals of your Wild Apricot website set up correctly will give you a strong start toward a friendly and engaging system to manage your organization’s members and contacts – even if you use Wild Apricot on a budget.

Pick a Wild Apricot Theme

Wild Apricot has created four theme families with 11 themes. Each theme has several color variants. The current theme families are:

  • Kaleidoscope, Building Blocks and Tinted Tiles
  • Showcase, Firma and Terra
  • Homestead, Fiesta and Skyline
  • Whiteboard and Bookshelf

Each family of themes share the same basic look and feel and differ mostly in color palette. The user interface elements like the login/logout buttons, the call-to-action buttons and navigation menus all have a similar design in a theme family.

Themes can be greatly modified to suit the need of your organization. Here for example is the Kaleidoscope theme when it is first installed:

Kaleidoscope

After the theme is selected, a sample set of pages with placeholder graphics are added. The upper left corner in Kaleidoscope has a handy color palette that is used as a default in the theme.

Below is the Kaleidoscope theme customized for Denver Ballet Guild, one of our customers who has selected Wild Apricot. The logo, color palette and use of pictures has been customized specifically for their use.

 

Dbg layout

 

Theme advice from Wild Apricot

If you want to dig deeper, you should check out Wild Apricot’s website resources:

Learn and use page templates, for the win

Once you’ve picked a theme, it’s time to set up your page templates.  Page templates are powerful website design tools. Using a Wild Apricot page template is the best way to design web pages that look consistent.  A page template is a great “starting point” for a page that allows the designer to not have to worry about items that should be part of every page.  Once you’ve gotten started, you can use each page template as many times as you need. If you’ve used slide masters in PowerPoint, you already know a bit about how page templates can work.

What’s cool about Wild Apricot page templates?

When a new page is created, a default page template is automatically applied. You can also select a different page template for a page. If you change a page template, all the site pages that use that template will automatically change too and inherit all the changes on the page template So, for example, if you want to change the header and footer of each page you can change the page template and avoid having to modify each page. Wild Apricot sites typically have the following page templates:

  • a home page template unique for the website home page
  • a standard template used across many pages, usually the default template
  • one or more additional page templates for each section of your website
  • a set of page templates for members-only pages

Remember that a page template can have content that automatically is inherited by the page that uses it. A page template is the basic design tool in Wild Apricot, which helps you make pages look consistent and easy to use and maintain.

And layouts — learn them and love them!

Another useful tool in page template design is the layout. Layouts are a great way to create grids on page templates and pages. They allow you to create a structure on your page template. They can also be used on a page to create natural containers for your content gadgets. Layouts help with responsive design for mobile devices, ensuring content can be positioned dynamically when viewed on a mobile device. Learn layouts, and you’ll wonder what you did without them!

Refine your Wild Apricot site with colors and styles

The colors and styles module is one way to change your theme. Each theme has a set of style and design options that you can change quickly. Some global options that you can change include the fonts, font sizes and colors of text. Certain themes have more options to change in the colors and styles module, and that makes the scope of this feature a bit hard to pin down.

However, it is currently not possible to change all the elements of a Wild Apricot theme in the colors and styles module. And it can be confusing to know which option changes every part of a theme. There is another powerful tool that will give you a tremendous amount of customization control. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the best way to customize Wild Apricot themes, in our opinion.

Use CSS for a truly custom look and feel

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the preferred and most powerful way to customize your website’s look and feel. CSS is a powerful layout and style syntax supported by all modern web browsers that defines how a website menu, button, link or almost any site element will appear. CSS does not affect function but rather look and feel only.

You can even use CSS to hide certain elements from displaying altogether, such as a label that is confusing. At NewPath Consulting, we typically identify and customize several hundred CSS elements on every single Wild Apricot website we build.  In fact, to make it easier to customize any Wild Apricot website we designed our own Wild Apricot Text Manager (WATM).The WATM supports publishing websites in 2 languages as well!

Need a short video tutorial on CSS? Want even more help with CSS? Get in touch with us. 

Remember, a trial account will allow you to import up to 50 contacts (see Step 0 for more on Wild Apricot pricing).

Wild Apricot Theme Design, Illustrated

The diagram below illustrates the Wild Apricot theme architecture.  One or more master layouts are inherited directly from a Wild Apricot theme and includes all the colors and styles inherited from the theme. A master layout is the basis for a page template, but master layouts are defined directly in the theme and are not easily modified. The theme also includes the default CSS style sheet. A page template’s design and gadgets define the content shared between a set of pages. The page inherits the page template and contains the actual unique content for that page.

Wild Apricot Page Templates  Layouts and CSS
Wild Apricot Theme, Page Templates and Pages Architecture (click image to zoom)

 

Pro Tips in Wild Apricot Help

The Wild Apricot documentation can provide more guidance:

Design your site for mobile use

As you design your website, make sure you evaluate how the website works on mobile devices — you want your website to be mobile-responsive, so the page elements adjust to suit the user’s screen size and preferences.

Otherwise, you may find that the decisions you make while designing page templates and pages do not work well on mobile devices.

At NewPath Consulting, we find the Web Developer extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers handy. We use it to test various mobile screen sizes without having to actually use a tablet or smartphone.

Does this sound more complicated than you feel you can handle?

We can help the process go more smoothly. Just get in touch with NewPath Consulting to learn more.

Next article in the series is Step 5 - Creating Your Website.

12/28/2018

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Planning Your Database II – Final Prep of Your Master Import File

Step 3 con't - Final Prep Your Master Import File
Step 3 con't - Final Prep Your Master Import File

 

In our previous “11 Steps to Membership Management Success” article you created the spreadsheet containing your data for migration into Wild Apricot. Hopefully you’ve tried our suggestions for ensuring your data is clean before the import.  

Now, we’ll look at how you’ll combine the fields you’ve created in your master import file with those fields required for Wild Apricot. This is a crucial step, as including the system fields and assigning them valid values will make your import much easier to complete!

Mapping your database fields

Wild Apricot has a very powerful and flexible data import module that lets you import your member and contact data. The step-by-step data import process will:

  • Validate your data against business rules in Wild Apricot
  • Create the database fields you need on the fly
  • Do bulk updates of existing data already in the system

When you start the import, the system will ask you to map your fields to the fields already in Wild Apricot. If you have data that’s not already a field in their database, Wild Apricot can create any custom fields you need during the import.

We recommend that you create the custom fields based on your spreadsheet columns, before you import your data. Why is this important? If the field names in Wild Apricot are the same as the column header fields (the first row) in your spreadsheet, the field mapping will be done “automagically”!

Need to upgrade your account?

Remember, a trial account will allow you to import up to 50 contacts (see Step 0 for more on the Wild Apricot pricing model).

Differentiating contacts and members

In Wild Apricot, all members are also automatically classified as contactsbut it doesn’t work in reverse: not all contacts are classified as members.

Here’s are some ways to tell the difference:

  • Members have exactly one membership level assigned, whereas contacts do not have any membership level assigned.
  • You can create custom fields for contacts (known as common fields) as well as for members (known as membership fields).
  • Members pay fees and have access to members’ benefits, contacts do not. However, unarchived members and contacts can both log in with a password to your Wild Apricot website.
  • Members get all contact common fields as part of their record. Membership fields are available only for members. Membership fields can also be activated and available for specific membership levels.
  • The handy diagram in the Common vs Specialized Fields section of Wild Apricot’s help page is super useful!

The best way to think about it for most organizations is like this: contacts are all records that may eventually become members when they join the organization under a membership level. Members are people (or organizations) that have joined and are enjoying special benefits provided under their membership plan, like discounted events, products and services.

Wild Apricot encourages you to load all contacts and members into the database to use the marketing features like email to convert contacts into members. You don’t have to load contacts into Wild Apricot and can use external email systems like MailChimp to drive conversions, but the experience is not as well-integrated.

To learn more, check out this help document to distinguish between contacts and members in Wild Apricot. It is really important to understand this difference and get to know all the Wild Apricot features that are available for members but not for contacts.

Creating custom fields

There are several Wild Apricot system fields that can be updated. For example, to suspend a member, you simply set the “Membership enabled” field to “no”. Read more in this description of all the system fields you can set and update in Wild Apricot. These must be part of the initial master import file, especially if you wish to assign membership levels during the initial import.

Learn to update your system fields

If you still think there’s more to do to get your database ready to import, we can help — Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.

Extra charge calculation fields will likely not be part of your legacy database. These are powerful fields that allow you to add costs to the base membership fees. They can be used to add various options to a membership subscription, like a t-shirt, or to add fees based on member salaries. Extra charge calculation fields enable an organization to have dynamically-priced membership fees.

Now that you’ve defined custom fields for both contacts and members, you can try an export of any current records in the  Wild Apricot. The correct field names will be in row 1 of the export (also known as the header row). You can use this header row in your master import file. This will make importing your full database easy and simple, as your columns will be “automagically” matched during the mapping process!

Want to practice before using your own file?

 Try this sample master import file to make simple transformations of data from your legacy database.

The database customization, membership renewal and event management features are where Wild Apricot shines and is most powerful. These are the tools that save the most time. In fact, some organizations are satisfied with these features alone and don’t move on to create a Wild Apricot-powered website. But we think this is a mistakethe full power of the platform comes when you combine Wild Apricot’s website-building capabilities with all the automation modules.

If you want to take full advantage of Wild Apricot’s website tool, don’t worry. We’ll take you through those steps in the next few articles in this series.

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Planning Your Database I – Prepare Your Master Import File

Young woman designs database
Step 3 - Prepare Your Master Import File

In Step 2, you learned about managing memberships using levels and bundles. Now, we’re on to Step 3: creating the master import file that you’ll use to import your membership data into Wild Apricot.

But first, a few other quick tips to help you get your membership database in tip-top shape, to help enable a smooth migration.

Archived records are included

Do you wish to store certain contacts or members in Wild Apricot, but do not want to upgrade to a more expensive Wild Apricot plan? You can do this with archived records— and at no extra charge. And, you can still “revive” archived records and make them active at any time. If you exceed your Wild Apricot database contact limit by unarchiving records, you will have to upgrade to the next higher subscription plan.  

Either an administrative user or an archived member can reclassify archived records in Wild Apricot using the administrative system in Wild Apricot. However, there are some technical limits on archives: know these limits before you prepare to archive!

Keep prep work in the background

Here are some tools we recommend you check out before we move on to preparing your master file for migration, configuration and testing:

  • Prevent surprise emails being sent automatically by turning off emailing for all contacts during the import. Wild Apricot does start the renewal workflows when data is loaded, so make sure you load data with email subscriptions set to “no”.
  • Wild Apricot also has a handy member set-up checklist that might help you create some subtasks within your project’s data migration plan.
  • If you want to verify your email addresses before loading them into the new database, you can try this excellent (paid) service called BriteVerity.

Not sure your data is ready?

If you still think there’s more to do to get your database ready to import, we can help — Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.

If you’ve followed all the steps previous to this one, you will have assessed and inventoried your membership data and made critical decisions about how to organize it as you prepare for migration to Wild Apricot.

Before we move on to starting to create your master import file — Congratulate yourself on completing this final preparation phase [it might be a good time to get yourself a beverage 😊].


Whether you plan to build your public and members’ website in Wild Apricot, or only to link your existing website to the Wild Apricot membership website, you will need to do three things:

  • Decide on the custom database fields you need
  • Clean your database
  • Do some test imports to check data integrity

First, build the master import file locally…

To start creating the master import file you will need to create a spreadsheet containing your contacts and members. This file will have data organized into all the fields (or columns in a spreadsheet) you’d like to migrate into Wild Apricot.

Start by building your “master import file” spreadsheet, which you’ll create based on the raw data you brought together in Step 1. Excel, Google Sheets or Pages are all good choices for manipulating and getting the file ready. We like to use Excel because it is great at handling a lot of data (up to 1 million rows per worksheet). It also has a lot of useful formulas for cleaning up and transforming data.

Creating a master “data model” can be challenging, especially if you have not been using another database but rather have had all your membership data in unstructured documents like Word documents or many Excel spreadsheets.  

Tools to help with data hygiene

Be aware that a messy database will create problems in Wild Apricot! Migration of data between systems is a perfect time to clean up your database and put into place some new data-hygiene rules.

The right steps, still in the right order …

As we’ve said earlier, it’s tempting to start planning the website before, or in parallel with, preparing to migrate membership data.

You’ll benefit more if you lay a strong and reliable foundation, before building the house and designing the front entrance. How? By preparing and accurately describing your database.

Let the pros help

NewPath can advise on how to use filtering, formulas and other spreadsheet tricks to get your data in tip top shape. Contact us to learn more

Watch for our next chapter to complete Step 3, where you’ll complete the build of your master import file. We will include a handy worksheet that will help you create a master import file and define a “dictionary” of all the fields in your Wild Apricot data model.