Building Nonprofit Websites in King County

Youth mentoring website screenshot

A redesigned WordPress website for The 4C Coalition – a community-based nonprofit, founded in 1999, that helps black and other youth of color succeed in school and in life. The 4C Coalition offers one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring and tutoring to 12- to 17-year-olds in King County.

Scope of Work

content migration
creative strategy
color palette development
front-end web development
online data management
performance optimization
security hardening
search engine optimization
visual design
WordPress training and consulting


Page load speed ranks in the top 15% of sites.

WebPageTest Speed Index: 1.737 (median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388)

Total Page File Size: 1.3 Mb (In 2020, the median web page size = ~2.1 MB; the average page size = ~2.4 Mb)
Total Web Server Requests: 48

Web Design Team

Content Strategy: Rita Cipalla
Photography: Rebecca Sullivan
Visual Design: Joan van den Berg
WordPress Theme DevelopmentScott Marlow


Original Websites for Original Artists

musician-composer website

A redesigned WordPress website for musician-composer, Glenna Burmer. The new site merges content from into a single domain for the award-winning artist. Visitors can listen and watch concert clips from SoundCloud and Vimeo. Stay tuned for the teaser trailer for the award-winning animated short film, Nana korobi, Ya oki.

The new website is simply FANTASTIC! Absolutely beautiful!
Glenna Burmer

Scope of Work

content migration
creative strategy
color palette development
front-end web development
performance optimization
security hardening
search engine optimization
visual design
WordPress training and consulting


Page load speed ranks in the top 10% of sites.

Google Lighthouse benchmarks
Mobile Speed: 85/100
Desktop Speed: 97/100
Accessibility: 96/100
Best Practices:  100/100
Search Engine Optimization: 93/100

WebPageTest Speed Index: 1.169 (median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388)

Total Page File Size: 489 Kb (In 2020, the average page size was ~2.4 Mb; the median size was ~2.1 Mb)
Total Web Server Requests: 24 (4 Scripts + 5 Images + 6 CSS files + 4 fonts + 2 Other + 1 HTML )


Content Strategy by: Rita Cipalla
Visual Design by: Joan van den Berg
Banner artwork: Descending Dragon by Nobu Burmer | Banner photo: Sakurajima volcano, Kyushu, Japan, by Glenna Burmer
WordPress Theme Development byScott Marlow

5 Tips for Picking WordPress Plugins

How do you pick the perfect WordPress Plugin for your website?

There are over 55,000 Plugins in the official WordPress open source repository. And that does not include the tens of thousands of paid commercial Plugins available in the marketplace.

Here are 5 Tips to Pick a Plugin

  1. Open Source Software Plugins must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, including a GPL-compatible license. These guidelines include privacy, security and other requirements to help protect your site. And all Plugin code is vetted as part of this process.
  2. Active Installations
    Generally, the more installations have been downloaded and activated – the more likely the Plugin is reliable. More activations means more user testing across a wide variety of installations.
  3. Plugin Developer(s)
    A developer who has released multiple Plugins is another sign of confidence because that person likely has more WordPress experience. A team of Plugin contributors can also be a sign of well-tested code quality. For example, I generally trust most Plugins supported by Automattic, WordPress core contributors.
  4. Reviews
    A Plugin with a high volume of quality reviews is a testament to its effectiveness.
  5. Testing and Technical Discovery
    When evaluating Plugins, I often compare the file download size because performance is as important to me as rich features. By comparison, a similarly functioning Plugin with a significantly larger size can be an indication of code bloat and possible issues, including performance or security.

5 Reasons to Avoid Paid Commercial WordPress Themes

Not everyone has the resources for a custom WordPress Theme. And that’s ok. Template Themes are available to fill those needs. But there’s a huge disparity in code quality between template themes. Since 2010, I’ve had the (mis)fortune to help many clients manage their paid commercial Themes.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to reconsider using a third-party paid commercial theme.

  1. Usability
    Now, some clients do find commercial themes easy to manage and edit. However, in my experience, most clients find the editing process cumbersome. I recall a Seattle nonprofit client who was unable to edit their own homepage because their Theme had too many confusing Theme Customizer options. Other Themes require you to learn various third-party editing tools, like Visual Composer or Elementor, which can take hours to learn and days to master.
  2. Performance
    Due to the feature bloat inherit with most commercial themes, page load speed is often subpar – well over the benchmark 2 – 3 second load time. I’ve seen page sizes exceed 10 Mb with almost 200 web server requests (e.g. CSS files + fonts + images + javascript) – when 40 – 60 is ideal for an optimized database-driven website.
  3. Portability
    Commercial Themes often bundle lots of features – like content sliders, e-commerce, fonts, icons, and more. You should generally rely on your Theme for visual layout and styles; and rely on Plugins for features. When features are integrated into a Theme, content may not easily port over to a new Theme, if and when you decide to switch.
  4. Security
    Security consistently ranks last among client priorities. Until your site is hacked and goes offline. The stability of any WordPress site strongly depends on the choice of Theme and Plugins. themes are vetted by a volunteer Theme Review Team that ensures themes in the official WordPress repository conform to certain coding standards.
  5. Accessibility
    Most people don’t think about inclusion when they manage their own web project. But most premium themes do not follow to accessibility guidelines, much less comply with WCAG AA standards required for organizations that must meet federal ADA regulations.