The First Thing I Do When Creating a NationBuilder Website

I don’t want anyone finding and publishing my client’s in-development website on Twitter. I know my clients don’t want it to happen, either.

That’s why, when I create a new NationBuilder account or a new website on an existing NationBuilder account, the first thing I do is create a private workspace — with triple redundancies to make sure it’s secure.

How do I do it? By changing three standard settings in the Site settings > Basics section of my NationBuilder website.

First, Create a “Hard To Guess” Site Slug

Every NationBuilder website has a “site slug:” a prefix to its URL that makes it unique. NationBuilder prepends it to the URL like this: [site_slug]-[nation_slug].nationbuilder.com.

While your first instinct is to make this “site slug” a short, easily remembered word, I want you to fight that instinct. Instead, think of it as a password. The harder it is to guess, the less likely someone uninvited will find your development site.

My approach is to use random.org’s String Generator to create a long, random slug for my sites (ex: “cmi4mpbmwwm35ej6anyl”), but any hard-to-guess slug will work.

Note: Once you have connected a custom domain to your site, the “site slug” is hidden and no longer relevant. A password-like slug will have no impact on the long-term public URL for your website.

Next, Lock Down The Website

By default, NationBuilder websites are visible to “everyone” (i.e., they’re publicly accessible right out of the box).

I want my development sites to be visible to “control panel users” only — and, if there are an unusually large number of control panel users, possibly to “admins” only. That way, only my client’s senior team can see and interact with the site during its development phase.

Fortunately, this is an easy change to make.

While still within the Site settings > Basics section of your control panel, scroll down until you see the “Who can view this site?” dropdown menu on the lefthand side. Change this setting from “Anyone” to “Control panel users.”

Then, Disallow Search Engines

While the above two steps will lock our site down from curious visitors, this last step will prevent search engines like Google or Yahoo from adding your development website to search results.

Just below the “Who can view this site?” dropdown is a checkbox labeled “Allow search engines.” Uncheck it.

Now, when Bing, Google, Yahoo, and other search engines find your site, they’ll recognize that you want privacy and respect it by not including you in search results.

Finally, Save Your Settings

Once you’ve made these changes, scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the blue “Save site” button.

Then, try opening your new development website URL in an incognito browser window. You won’t be able to reach it (instead, you should see a login screen). That means it worked!

Now, you’re ready to begin the work of building your new website in private. Your opponents won’t be able to find your site, and even if they do, they won’t be able to see it.

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