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One Rule for Choosing a Giving Day Platform: Never Eat at a Dirty Restaurant

“How do we know our site is not going to crash?”  

This has been the single biggest question we’ve heard since the massive tech failure experienced by nonprofits across the country using the Kimbia platform on Give Local America.  Everyone wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and even those unaffected are making sure they re-examine their technology and re-assess their backup contingency plans.

However, there is a major problem when looking at these issues. Essentially, the question is “how do I know our technology partner’s back-end architecture is stable, secure & modern?”  This is a very difficult question to answer in an industry where virtually none of the key decision makers have technology backgrounds themselves.  

I would argue that the answer is right in front of your eyes.  

The best way to understand the back-end architecture of your technology partner is to understand the kind of company they are.  

What is their culture?  What are their habits?  How much do they care about getting everything right?

The easiest way for someone to do this is to look at their front-end design and user experience.  

What does their site look like?  Is it aesthetically pleasing?  Does it make sense what you need to do as a user?  How does it flow?  What is the feedback from the donors and nonprofit admins that have to actually use these sites?  

The average developer would argue that front-end design (the look, feel and experience of a website) and back-end architecture (the underlying code, the database, etc.) are not necessarily related.  Technically, they would be right.

However, I would compare this to eating at a new restaurant. If the front of the restaurant is dirty or disorganized, I walk out.  

Technically, the “front-end” of the restaurant is unrelated to the “back-end”.  The kitchen could be spotless, the chef could be great and the food could be fantastic even if the front is dirty and chaotic.  We all know this is simply rarely the case.  

The kind of restaurants that do things right in the back almost always also do things right in the front and vice versa.

The same holds true for websites.  

It is extremely difficult and time-consuming to create a great front-end design and user experience.  It takes interviewing and working with an enormous number of potential users, a painstaking attention to detail, an organized and planned approach, and the ability (and desire) to react and improve.  These are the exact same habits and principles that create a solid, stable back-end architecture as well.

In fact, for most well-run tech companies, the front-end designers and back-end developers work together in the same place, interact with customers and partners in the same way, and are sometimes even interchangeable.  They are a team.

How could one part of this team claim to get it right when the other part so obviously gets it wrong?

So take another look at your current or potential tech platform.  Is it beautiful?  Is it easy to use?  Does it convey “we care about you and your experience with us”?  

Or is it clunky and confusing?  Is it, in essence, a dirty restaurant?

If so, run out the door and find another restaurant.