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10 Great Nonprofit Websites

As a firm one of our focuses is on building websites for charities and non-profits.  In an effort to find some inspiration, we recently looked through the sites of   Forbes list of 200 Largest U.S. Charities. We picked our favorites based on web design and how well we think they communicated the mission of their nonprofit organization. It was interesting to see the difference between the marketing needs of humanitarian groups and those of other charity groups. World Wildlife Fund, for example, used powerful photography to solicit sympathies, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art utilized a streamlined art showcase to represent the sophisticated museum style.

Following you will find ten great sites we came across.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Placing the photo near the action toolbar on the right is a smart way to draw attention to where nonprofits want it most. They also do a great job of making the donation tab stand out.


American Museum of Natural History

Vibrant photography in the slider beautifully shows the museum’s various concentrations.


American Red Cross

One large emotional photo and a call to help makes this site appealing and direct.


Art Institute Chicago

Using the artwork as a background for the entire site and the stacking of the toolbar tabs gives this a very contemporary feel — a feel true to the museum itself.


Food for the Hungry

Their black and white design is crisp, and their use of relevant photography that matches the color of their logo is a nice touch.


Direct Relief

The site has little going on besides a vivid, compelling image and a donate button, which is not a bad thing at all.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is another example of an art museum doing a great job of incorporating elements of the museum’s style into its site.


Robin Hood

The grey and white with lime green accents looks good, but it also suggests a break from the norm, much like the organization’s mission statement.


Teach for America

They present easy navigation and great photography.



World Wildlife Fund

They not only had high quality photography, but their choice of images was especially powerful. The picture itself is a call to action.



10 Great Hotel Websites

At the Brick Factory, we respect good-looking websites of many kinds. It’s interesting to see how the purpose of the website changes the design of the site. Newspaper and magazine sites are very text-heavy. The college sites we mentioned on our blog a couple of months ago do a great job of displaying the identity of the school, showcasing the research their school has done, and incorporating other elements of school spirit that would be compelling for prospective students. Hotel sites seek to represent the sort of experience a person would have when staying there. These days, hotels rely more on their web presence than a travel agent’s recommendation to attract guests to their hotel. A website can make or break a booking for a hotel.

After reviewing the list of best hotels according to US News and World Report as well as Travel and Leisure, we identified ten of our favorites. These sites were simple enough to navigate but involved enough to grab one’s attention. They also did a great job of using photography to create an appealing advertisement of their accommodations.


Shutters on the Beach


Sukho Thai




Four Seasons


Les Crayeres


St. Regis




The Little Nell


Sea Island


The Plaza


Trump Hotel

Top 10 Best Designed College Websites: The Sequel

We did a post on the best designed college websites a couple years ago. Since the digital world is constantly evolving and it seems trends become outdated overnight, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a fresh look and see what has changed in the last few years.

Interestingly enough, many of the sites were exactly where they were two years ago, showing no signs of having been updated. As much as anything, this is an indication of how much work it is to build and redesign a university site.

Having looked through hundreds of universities sites, we found several sites that impressed us with their design and smart navigation structures. Look at our list of ten below and let us know what you think.

Update: You can view our 2013 list of best college websites here.

(10) University of Chicago

This one has a simple, clean design.

(9) Boston University

This is a good site, but hasn’t evolved in a few years.

(8) Vanderbilt University

They do a great job of pulling out their school colors from great photos.  Overall, a solid site.

(7) Notre Dame

We like the photos and permanent navigation, but don’t love the pixilation/fonts that are used in the navigation and subheads.

(6) Duke University

This is another site that hasn’t been updated in a while, but a great site, nonetheless. It’s straightforward and useable.

(5) Depauw

We love the slider and clean header.

(4) Northern Arizona University

The unique layout of this site is refreshing.

(3) Johns Hopkins University

This was our top pick on our post two years ago for its incredible use of photography. It has not changed.

(2) University of Pennsylvania

We like the way they include simple feature on the left and large image without getting too busy.

(1) William and Mary

There is a very fresh classic look. It’s also easy to find your way around the site. Beautiful crisp images.

In Search of a Great Tool for Holiday Fundraising?


Here at the Brick Factory, we understand that competition for donor dollars is fierce in this economy. Having worked with many nonprofit and political organizations we know you have to be creative for your fundraising to have an impact.

Giving eCards is a new product that provides organizations with a creative and cost-effective way to raise money online. An eCard is a personalized image and message that an organization’s supporters can send to their friends and family. Giving eCards allows supporters to send a custom eCard through the site while making a donation to your organization in someone’s name.

How it works from an organizational perspective:

  1. Organizations sign up for a free account on www.givingecards.com. When signing up, the organization reserves a custom URL for their Giving eCards page.
  2. Once the account is created, organizations upload their custom designed eCards to their account. eCards can be categorized dynamically, allowing for sets of cards to be created for common occasions such as birthdays, New Year’s, graduation, etc.
  3. Once the eCards are uploaded, the organization promotes their eCard page to their supporter base via email, social media, website links, etc.
  4. As supporters donate and send cards on behalf of friends and family, the money is automatically deposited into the Paypal account of the organization. Giving eCards takes 5% of the amount raised on top of Paypal’s fees.
  5. Organizations can access and export all donor information from their Giving eCards control panel at any time.

This Christmas, give your supporters a great gift idea and grow your organization at the same time with Giving eCards.

Moved In

The Brick Factory has finally gotten settled in our beautiful new office space. It has been an exciting transition, and now that furniture is in place, hardware is plugged in, a makeshift basketball hoop has been secured near the strategists, and candy is in the bowl in the reception area, we can officially call this home.

IMG_0321 First view upon entering reception area. (more…)