I’m a Chicago native, so I’ve seen our city experience both good times and hard times. During the current hard time we’re all experiencing, it felt good to help neighbors in need by volunteering with Bucktown Mutual Aid on their website set-up.
In my day-to-day job, I create custom software for enterprise clients, so working with a templated website platform like Wix was an interesting change of pace for me. Custom software is needed for tools that manage massive amounts of data or are highly complex, but there’s a place for Wix and I enjoyed learning about the platform while I worked on this project.
What is Bucktown Mutual Aid?
Bucktown Mutual Aid is an offshoot of the Chicago Mutual Aid network–most Chicago neighborhoods have one. BMA exists to help neighbors join forces to help one another fulfill essential needs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are stronger together, and as a neighborhood, BMA facilitates prescription and grocery pickup for those who are at highest risk, food delivery so no one goes hungry, and meeting other needs that arise. By connecting neighbors with each other, we can be empowered to make a meaningful difference while also forging strong community bonds.
When to use a website template
When time is of the essence, it makes sense to use a tool that can get your website launched as quickly as possible. The BMA website volunteers were able to get the website up and running in less than a week by working from a template and customizing as needed. That means Bucktown community members were able to give and receive the support that is so urgently needed.
Wix offers built-in functionality for subscriptions, forms, linking with GoFundMe, and even language translation, so it’s also a good tool for volunteer-run projects like Bucktown Mutual Aid–the learning curve is not steep, and non-developers can maintain the site without too much trouble.
Wix tips and tricks
Website templating tools can be intimidating, especially to people who aren’t developers. Here are a few tips for getting comfortable with the Wix platform:
- Don’t be scared–you can undo anything! Wix has so many configurable options, so you might be nervous that if you click something, you’ll mess it up. But don’t worry, there are safety measures to help you avoid mistakes. You can use normal keyboard shortcuts to undo any changes you’ve made recently (command+z on Mac). If you’ve already saved your changes and need to go further back, use Wix’s ‘site history’ tool to revert to a previous version of the site (built-in version control!).
- Customize, customize, customize. You might think that using a default theme means your site will look boring and generic, but by customizing the color choices, images, fonts, and copy, you can really create something that showcases your brand.
- Take advantage of built-in features. Wix is most useful when you take full advantage of its features. For example, you can purchase your domain name directly through Wix, which means you don’t have the hassle of buying from another domain vendor, hooking it up, and setting up a SSL. Subscribing to newsletters, submitting form requests, and responsive web design are also available with the click of a button.
How you can help
If you’re a developer who wants to make a difference in your community, I’d encourage you to put yourself out there and expose your skillset to the organizations that are important to you. Everybody needs a technical expert to help them get started, so your dev skills are valuable, especially to smaller, volunteer-run community groups. Join your neighborhood Slack channel and let your network know you’re available to help, and you may end up connecting with great organizations and people.
To support Bucktown Mutual Aid financially or with your time, visit BucktownMutualAid.org. To support your community or create your own Mutual Aid organization, check out mutualaidhub.org or join the greater Chicago Mutual Aid efforts.