Organizing your website pages in NationBuilder

August 28, 2013

Some of the political and non-profit world's biggest players are using NationBuilder to host their website and manage their supporters. And with big organizations, we find that they often have several people publishing pages, uploading posts, and creating content on their website.

The NationBuilder CMS only displays 30 pages in it's control panel view before paginating or sub-dividing the view into multiple pages, and I've seen organizations with four, five or even six "pages of pages"; once you get  dozens or even hundreds of pages in a nation, it gets to be a lot to keep track of. You'd be surprised how quickly the most organized site can become cluttered just through regular use.

It wastes organizers' valuable time to have to search for a page to edit (I don't think we need to cite the frightening statistics we all know on a personal level about how much time people spend "searching" when trying to complete work in our information economy age), and clicking through to find what you want can be infuriating. While you can search by page slug (in the top right hand corner search bar), sometimes these slugs can be very similar, or you might not remember the slug of the page, just the name. Going back to the live site to copy the slug when you are trying to edit multiple pages is just plain inefficient. 

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Here at Veracity Media, we've been using subpages and page tags to keep our clients' sites organized and to keep pages from getting lost. Unpublished pages in NationBuilder can serve as folders for other sets of live pages. One example is where an organization has different sign-up forms for different programs, e.g. a separate signup page for each field office. Rather than having these sign-up forms scattered among your main page display, you can keep them all neatly organized as sub-pages of a "signup_forms" page. This master page can be unpublished, and serves only as a place to house the other pages, just like a folder on your desktop would. 

Page tags are also underused in NationBuilder. We use page tags for some of our more advanced websites, creating home page feeds or displays of other featured pages on the website, but you can also use page tags as an organizational tool for your CMS. Page tags work just like regular tags on the database side. They're dynamic labels that group sets of pages together. The NationBuilder CMS display in the control panel has a handy drop-down filter that allows you to sort by page tags. We used this system to organize pages by staff (who may be responsible for updating them), by action campaign (the blog post, the petition page, the thank you page all for a particular campaign, etc.), or by campaign cycle. For the latter, as candidates and political organizations begin to own their nations for longer than one cycle, it becomes important to be able to distinguish the platform 2012 page from the platform 2014 page.

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To someone who is just beginning to use NationBuilder and hasn't cluttered up their CMS yet, this can seem like overkill, but after some time creating blog posts, events and regular pages, you'll see how these simple organizational practices can turn into a lifesavers. And the best advice we can give, on almost any topic, is to begin keeping things organized from the start so that you don't have to back through and retroactively organize your information at an inconvenient time. 

If you have any questions about this, want to learn more about what we do and how we can help your organization work more efficiently, drop us a line at contact@veracitymedia.com. Happy posting!

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