What is the difference between NationBuilder and Umbraco?

After a busy week that saw us launch two websites, one on the NationBuilder platform and another on Umbraco, it is inevitable that people have asked us.

NationBuilder vs Umbraco #1

At the risk of sounding repetitive, NationBuilder is a community organizing system, allowing easy integration into social media platforms to build a database of people, should they be supporters, volunteers, staff or any other tag you wish to associate with them. This is where NationBuilder has focused its resources, the management of people; similarly to a CRM (customer relationship management). With the integration of ready-made templates, your Nation is up and running with very little effort whilst allowing for custom themes if you are looking for a more personalized and professional design. This makes NationBuilder suitable for both small and large communities, offering a pricing scheme based on the number of supporters in your Nation.

In NationBuilder you could create forms for people who are interested in your cause, and upon submission, they will be included in the database. Each person can then be assigned a role, or a supervisor. You may then monitor their performance, how many people have they recruited for your cause? How is their communication with their assigned supervisor? You can also send a newsletter to a subset of all registered users, based on the tag you may have assigned to them. If your Nation is organized between teachers and students, you could organize an event visible for all teachers, and then follow up on who attended and who did not. It is a virtual representation of a community, with a tremendous number of features to help you organize your community.

Umbraco is an open-source CMS (content management system) built on the Microsoft platform. Differently to other CMS software, Umbraco is more developer oriented, making it easier to extend and customize than others such as Wordpress or Joomla. This makes Umbraco ideal for custom functionality, such as was the case of Where2Work. Apart from this, here at Incredible Web we have created our own mini-framework which can be extended onto Umbraco allowing for the easy integration of simple websites, such as What's On, John?

NationBuilder vs Umbraco #3

The number of uses for Umbraco fall on a very vast range, and almost anything web could be recreated on Umbraco, whether it is a blog about your pet goldfish or a website finding you the shortest route to between a number of cities (travelling salesman). Umbraco also gives us greater flexibility of functional design, because it does not come with pre-defined templates, allowing for completely unrestricted web design.

"OK so far so good, however when should I opt for a NationBuilder website and when should I prefer an Umbraco website?"  Needless to say, we will always advise you on the best solution for your needs if contacted for our free no-strings-attached consultation, but below I will try to explain when one option is better than the other using a few concrete examples below.

Suppose you are interested in creating awareness about mad cow disease? At the moment you have a Facebook page on which you regularly post about how to prevent getting mad cow disease. You have a few followers (although only a very little of them share/like your content) and are stuck on how to increase the number of followers.

You decide to head over to Incredible Web, with the intention of discussing the way forward. Your first requirement is an increased web presence, so you suggest having your own website, mad-cow-disease.org where you will upload the same content you are uploading on Facebook, however this time you will maintain it in the form of a blog.

Undoubtedly, creating a website for such simple requirements would be a case of over-engineering. It would be more adequate to use already existent services, such as Blogger or Wordpress. We feel that it is our duty to tell you this, as well as introducing you to possible alternatives to your initial requirements that match our abilities.

NationBuilder vs Umbraco #2

The first alternative which we offer is turning your website into a Nation. The main difference is that your website's visitors now have an interactive role. We suggest that you set up a donation and volunteering page, to be able to assist you in managing the website and covering any costs incurred. You can then set up a fundraising event for people who have been affected by mad cow and invite persons through Facebook & Twitter. Your volunteers are tasked with encouraging attendance for your fundraising event and you are able to see which volunteers have taken an active role and which others sat back and didn't fulfil your duties. At the fundraising event, you encourage people to visit your site and soon you have hundreds of active people in your organisation. You need to categorize these people as those who are working on the website, those who have donated, volunteers..etc. You assign your best-performing volunteers responsibility over other supporters, assisting them if they have any enquiries...etc; and before you know it, your blog has become an active Nation.

Plan B would be to set up a website which updates a map in real-time showing where there has been an outbreak of mad cow disease, where the food has been distributed and how it is likely to spread. Inputting the LOT numbers of infected products onto a database could send an e-mail to anyone registered for notifications and shops can inform the public that they are 'clean'.

It is then up to you, the client to see which most suits your needs. As can been seen from the above example, apart the fact that mad cow disease is a big thing; NationBuilder is more people oriented, followers and supporters; whilst Umbraco is more customized and has a more direct and specific function.

As always, do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation if you are interesting in sticking your head out into the world-wide-web.