Building a Website with No Code for a Homegrown Non-Profit with Tons of Heart
Gray Gill, Former Brand Writer
The Paul & Marion Ramseur Foundation is rooted in a rich family legacy and committed to growing new opportunities for their community. See how Viget created a website that honors its past and present work.
"Legacy? What is legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never see." A little-known playwright and actor by the name of Lin-Manuel Miranda sings these words in a more well-known broadway musical called Hamilton. This definition of legacy feels especially apt for the Ramseur family. Paul and Marion Ramseur planted seeds in the historically Black town of Kingstown, North Carolina. They, along with other community members, worked hard to develop Kingstown into a prosperous and proud town. Every year, they planted a garden and grew squash, tomatoes, and collard greens to feed their family. And they also made sure their neighbors never went hungry, giving away any surplus they had to those in need.
Their daughter, Edna, observed her parents’ generosity, and the impact they had on their community and she really took it to heart. She continued planting her family’s garden and putting down roots in Kingstown. Eventually, in 2021, Edna and her daughter, Kansas, brought their family’s legacy to fruition by founding the Paul & Marion Ramseur Foundation. The mission was simple: to use the family’s land to feed the community, grow a new generation of farmers through hands-on learning, and strengthen residents of the region through grassroots resources. Summed up more simply, the mission of the P&M Ramseur Foundation is to educate, empower, and elevate the people of Kingstown and the surrounding areas.
Through their foundation, they launched a farmers market where they sold produce from their garden and invited other growers and makers to set up shop with them. Edna also connected with other organizations to form a food pantry and donate food baskets to seniors and disadvantaged individuals in the community. And they laid the groundwork to begin youth programs. As you can see, they had their hands full in the early days of getting their foundation off the ground. They were spreading the word around their community and started social media accounts for the foundation, but needed more time and resources to focus on creating a website.
We learned of the remarkable story and work of the P&M Ramseur Foundation through our partnership with the capacity-building organization, Resourceful Communities, which focuses on building relationships with purpose-driven organizations doing the work in disenfranchised communities. Our team was excited to help the Ramseur family write the next chapter in their rich history and create a website that would strengthen their foundation’s online presence so they could further grow their community presence. We asked ourselves, how can we use digital assets, content, and brand strategy to help tell the multigenerational story of this family and the impact this new organization is having in Kingstown, N.C.? And, how could we accomplish these goals on a six-week timeline?
Early on, we knew that launching a website in six weeks would require using a no-code website builder and our team quickly settled on Squarespace. Not only were we seeking a viable solution for our team, but we were also thinking ahead to which tool would be the simplest to hand off and allowing the team at P&M Ramseur to take ownership of their site immediately. Using a straightforward platform like SquareSpace also meant we could devote more time crafting page layouts and content that captured the past and present story of the P&M Ramseur Foundation.
Our director of UX and content strategy gave us a head start. Before our kickoff call with the client, he had time to research the nonprofit/agriculture space, start to develop a sitemap and wireframe some of the initial pages we expected the site to need. This preparation allowed us to come into our introductory meeting with more valuable tools and information and use it more as a hybrid kickoff/discovery call. We used our time with Edna and Kansas to confirm we were heading in the right direction and learn more about their organization.
Our kick-overy call ended up being so productive that we were able to really expedite every aspect of the build-out process. Once we finished the wireframes, we shared each one with the P&M Ramseur team, along with straightforward content questions to get input and approval on what information we needed to communicate on each page. We learned so much about the big-picture mission that allowed us to use these documents to ensure we had the details right before writing copy for the website.
At Viget, we’re pretty accustomed to designing and developing custom websites and using robust CMS platforms like Craft. However, we wanted to ensure the team at P&M Ramseur felt comfortable updating the content on their site going forward. So, we did a thorough exploration of no-code website builders and ultimately decided SquareSpace was the most viable solution. While Squarespace is a user-friendly no-code website builder, it isn’t necessarily designer-friendly. There are inherent limitations to what you can design and build within Squarespace's templates. For that reason, we opted to move directly into designing the site by building it out, rather than having a dedicated static design phase first. Building it out enabled our visual designer to pivot to working on a new logo mark for P&M Ramseur that would be more cohesive with the design elements of their website and help their team communicate consistently as they continue growing. We wanted to honor the personal meaning behind their existing logo which featured the walnut tree that stood strong in front of the Ramseur family home. This was the seed of the concept for the new logo which conveys how the P&M Ramseur Foundation is firmly rooted in their community. The branches signify how their organization helps spur growth in the community through several different food-related programs.
While Squarespace is a relatively user-friendly tool, we wanted to make sure that Edna and Kansas felt comfortable making updates to their site, whether adding future programming content or letting folks know what’s available at the farmers market each week. So, our team worked on a comprehensive CMS and Brand Guide that gave them helpful how-tos on managing their shiny new site and communicating consistently as an organization.
Honestly, the most daunting aspect of this project honestly wasn’t the condensed timeline or our team’s on-the-fly adjustments to certain processes. It was making sure we honored the work of this incredible family and their newly formed foundation. Coming into a project that is generations in the making was something we didn’t take lightly. We’re so glad we had the chance to work with the P&M Ramseur Foundation and hear firsthand how they’re working to alleviate food insecurity and grow their community. And even though all our meetings were done virtually, we hope that one day we can visit their farmers market and pick up some fresh produce from their garden.