A different and free way to make a website – use a wiki

If you are looking for a simple and quick way to make a website for your organisation, there are many tools and choices available that are not only cheap or free, but also easy to use for the end user with no complicated need for in depth technical knowledge and ability. In this article, we’ll be looking at Wiki’s and how they could be used as a tool for your website. Their are many possibilities available when using a wiki. It could be used to create your website, support training and learning, creating a campaign or for sharing news, projects and developments within your own organisation.

Remember though when assessing which tool to use to create your website, there are a wide ranges of choices and options available. Wiki’s are just one of many tools that can help. Simple blogging software such as WordPress for example, can also easily enable effective participation and for simple collaborative website projects.

Creating a website for your organisation using a wiki

A few weeks ago, Michele Martin of the Bamboo Project Blog ran a series of articles showing step by step how a non-profit organisation can use a wiki to build and produce a website. Michele used Wetpaint as her wiki tool.

Michele explained in her blog about why wiki’s can be a good way to produce a simple website for organisations.

“A couple of reasons why I think a wiki can be a good choice for building your site:

  • Easy to set up and update – Wikis are really easy to use and require minimal technological expertise. Because of their ease of use, this also makes them easy to update because you don’t have to rely on your “web guy” to do the updates for you.
  • Built-in Two-Way Communication – As you’ll see, wiki’s have built-in comment features, which means that you can get immediate and ongoing feedback from site visitors, something that many web citizens are increasingly expecting from any site they visit.”

Obviously, a wiki isn’t going to give you a professional custom designed website, but for many small to medium non-profit organisations, a wiki can be suitable for your needs.

They are free, very easy to use and update, with a wide range of different wiki’s available to choose from such as Wikispaces and Wetpaint. Many offer additional features such as customisation of the colours and layout. Some also offer the option of having your own domain name pointing to the wiki rather than a longer website address, and also you can also pay a very small fee to have any advertising removed from your pages.

How and why I used a wiki

I recently ran a training workshop with voluntary and community organisations to help with planning their website. I decided against using lots of handouts and traditional slide presentations, instead I would create a wiki to support the learning for the day. It was very easy to do and took very little time compared to creating seperate presentations and handout sheets on all the topics were were going to cover in our day.

The great part of using a wiki to support delivery of training is that the materials are available after the event for the participants to be able to refer back to rather than them having to look for their scribbled notes from the day. I also added photo’s from the day too. I found it was highly successful as a supporting tool. As we learned about each subject area, all the links to relevant websites were there immediately for them. I live resource compared to a static one. I’ll be using wiki’s a lot more in the future to share learning with others.

As a trainer using the wiki as a learning tool, I learn’t about using my wiki more effectively too with the way I displayed the content. I observed how users of the wiki were using the pages and how they found information. I had put too much text on most pages. At some point soon, I aim to break down the pages in to smaller chunks to enable better usability for participants in sessions, they had to do a lot of scrolling to find information and links!

Do you want an easy and quick way to learn more on how a wiki can help you to communicate or create a website?

Commoncraft have just released another of their fun and lively quick video’s on Wetpaint Wiki’s in Plain English, which has been commissioned by Wetpaint, a company that have created an easy to use wiki. Instead of showing the technical parts of what a wiki is, it delivers how you could use wiki to share your subject, and how you can easily create a connected community.

If you are using a wiki in your organisation for your website or as a tool for sharing and learning, please do leave a link in the comments. I’m still fairly new to using wiki’s myself and really enjoy seeing and learning how others are using them too.

Updated: Wiki’s must be the hot topic for the day, Beth Kanter has also posted a useful and informative article on Wiki adoption in organisations on her site too! Check it out!