Recently, the team of VISSCH+STAM launched coronacollectie.nl, a participatory platform where everyone can contribute to the historiography of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative quickly gained traction, with exposure in the national press and hundreds of contributions to date. The contributions range from participatory songs to everyday observations and from diaries to billboards.
It’s been a while since I’ve been with my boots in the website-building mud. When Erik phoned me with the idea, however, and Robin provided the brand, I had no choice but to take the Pippy Longstocking can-do attitude. And honestly, it’s easier now than it has ever been to take an idea online.
Eight years ago, I wrote a much-read post about building a crowdfunding platform with spare cash and time. Here’s the 2020 update. Copy-paste, and make your idea happen:
- Platform: WordPress
There are countless drag-and-drop website builders nowadays, and some of them are great. Nonetheless, with over 15 years of experience with WordPress, it is my go-to CMS.
- Template: Bridge (59 USD)
As with WordPress, with my theme, I’m a creature of habit. I have used Qode’s Bridge theme for a wide range of websites, and I gladly pay the license fee. It takes some time to set up correctly, but it’s well documented and flexible. With the amount of traffic coronacollectie.nl gets, it is not the fastest theme, but there are plugins to address that to some extent.
- Contributions: Typeform (0-70 EUR/month)
Everybody needs to be able to contribute to coronacollectie.nl. I looked into many options to gather contributions, and Typeform stands out for me. It works smoothly, looks great, allows for complex forms and specials such as file uploads. Our users respond positively to it as well. We use the premium plan for our website.
- Brand and logo: Robin Stam
- Domain names and hosting: TransIP
Or wherever you get your favourite dotsomething and VPS.
- Social media presence: Twitter, Instagram
We use these mostly to monitor the conversation and reach out to potential contributors.
- Other WordPress plugins
Bridge comes with a host of plugins. In addition, I use Hummingbird and Smush to optimize the website’s speed, Loco translate to edit some labels, a GDPR cookie and Open Graph plugin, Redirection to pimp some URLs, and Simple Share Buttons Adder for social sharing.
To make Bridge work well with our design, I had to write about one page of CSS code. Although I didn’t really write it, but rather copy-pasted it from Qode’s help forum and adjusted some numbers. Anyone can do this.
Total investment: 59 USD, domain name, hosting, and optionally a Typeform plan, plus time and creativity and around 100 Google queries to figure little things out. I estimate it took me about four hours to decide on the best technology to use and sixteen to set everything up.
I come to building websites from when I had to write all the code myself, when <marquee> was still the height of design. (Click that link for a nod to online heritage from Google.) The ease with which we can now bring our ideas to the world amazes me, as does the wealth of open source code and affordable services. The hardest part is finding your way amidst all the options. With this post, I hope have made that part a little easier.
Collecting the story of a crisis Next Post:
Why some organizations respond well to crisis, even when they are unprepared