Nowadays, an organization without a website is like a fisherman with no hooks … patiently waiting to catch a large fish with no bait. This applies to both profitable companies and nonprofit organizations.
Often times, nonprofits are resource-scarce and their websites are (inadvertently) swept under the rug. This can lead to outdated or non-existent websites.
But don’t let that discourage you!
There are many ways to build your online presence. But you need to understand everything that goes into creating a successful website first. To make the process easier, here are six important factors to consider when creating / redesigning your nonprofit website.
1. Decide how you will build your website
The first thing you need to do is decide how you want to build your website. You need to review your options and see if you are responsible for your website … or if you’d rather have a professional do it for you.
Here is a breakdown of the different methods:
- I am looking for professional help from a web developer. This option almost always guarantees a successful website that is precisely tailored to the uniqueness of your company.
A good web developer dives headfirst into the “mind” of your organization and takes the necessary time to understand the causes and problems you are facing (see: the discovery phase in our creative approach). With what you learn, you can create a website that embodies exactly what your business is about.
- Use a website builder. This method is much more personal and will save you the expense of a web developer. There are a variety of website builders and content management systems (CMS) to choose from – like WordPress (with a visual builder or reusable blocks), Wix, Webflow, and Cosmic JS.
Many of these website builders offer a selection of ready-made templates. All you have to do is choose your look and layout, and paste in your organization’s information.
At a reasonable price, these website builders allow you to easily create a website without the need for a lot of manual code editing (also known as a “low-code” or “no-code” environment). You can choose from countless themes and install helpful plugins that make running your website a breeze. At Key Medium, WordPress with a Visual Builder is our first choice and we have over a dozen satisfied customers in the last year alone.
However, if you need customizations and special features that aren’t immediately available, this is something you should consider. Some examples include a resource locator to support homeless services, such as: B. where to find pantries or hygiene locations. For these customer-specific applications and functional extensions, you can contact us at any time for a 15-minute consultation. It can be so easy to install and configure a WordPress plugin, or it can require a completely new build of the web application – depending on the situation.
2. Know when to redesign
There comes a time when every website needs some tweaking or revision. Knowing when to redesign your website is key to keeping it from falling from the deep end. Technology is constantly evolving; It is advisable to keep your website on the same path.
Let’s take a look at some of the indicators that let you know it’s time for a revision:
- Is your website optimized for mobile devices? You don’t want your website to be difficult to navigate for mobile users. 46% of consumers don’t revisit a mobile website if they have problems the first time. Read: Why Mobile-First Is A Necessity.
- What’s your bounce rate? Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit your website and finish the session without leaving your home page. A high bounce rate indicates that you haven’t been able to captivate your visitors. Check your mobile website speed here.
What’s your user experience or UX like? If your website is easy to navigate, has no bugs, and is visually appealing, you’re in control! 53% of visitors leave a website if it takes too long to load and 38% leave if it is aesthetically unattractive. Read: User Experience Design Trends in 2020.
3rd Best Performing Website Pattern Guidelines
The structure of your website is the way your home page and web pages are organized. The structure of your website should make it easy for your visitors to navigate.
Here are the various structures we’ve put together based on our experience over the past decade of developing well-functioning websites specifically for nonprofits:
- Classic – relies on a proven sitemap design
- Program controlled – focuses on delivering multiple initiatives and is program driven
- Direct service provider – driven by direct service providers to the community
- Research / policy-driven – Focus on education and promoting engagement
You want every visitor to have a seamless experience that encourages them to donate to your cause and stand up for you – and this starts with a clear information architecture – so that you can give users an idea of your business in just a few seconds can. Read more: Sitemap Design for Nonprofits.
4. Don’t do everything about yourself
Too often you see the common mistake made by nonprofit websites focusing on their organization and what it is about. This often creates distance between potential supporters and the organization.
It is of paramount importance to align your company’s concerns with the voices and stories of the people you want to help. If your goal is to raise funds for social services, the best way to convince visitors to donate to a good cause is by sharing real life stories from the people you will be helping. In this way, the convincing “social proof” design principle is implemented quickly.
Another method: if your primary goal is programmatic and / or requires membership, then leadership with benefits is key. One thing about value messaging and design patterns – it highlights the immediate benefits for your users and potential new members. See: BicycleCoalition.org for an example of this, and note the 3 benefits that appear immediately – based on a data-driven (also A / B-tested) design pattern called “Benefits Bar”.
5. What is SEO and why is it important for nonprofits?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is how you get more traffic to your website through search engine results. While this can be paid for, SEO is more about growing traffic organically – without having to pay for it.
SEO is important for EVERY website – it’s the best way to help people (potential donors) find your organization online! Having a high organic ranking helps drive high quality traffic to your company’s website.
Some of the best practices for SEO are:
- Pay attention to keywords and use them
– Be sure to use these in titles, headings and in your content (excessive use of keywords can sometimes make your website / content appear generic).
- According to an SEO checklist – Optimize your website by using tags and meta descriptions
- Using links – Use backlinks to link your content to external websites
Your SEO strategy should be high on your list for building a successful website. When done correctly, it will enable you to gain visibility and effectively increase brand awareness. It also allows you to refine your messaging and improve your users’ journey when they are looking for you, your programming, or any specific value-added resource your company wants to share.
6. Why web design is important
When creating a website for a nonprofit organization, do the following:
- Decide how you will build your website
- Revise your website if necessary
- Understand the structure of your website
- Align the focus of your website between your organization and the people it helps
- Stay tuned with your SEO strategy
- Captivate your visitors with aesthetically pleasing web design
If you’d like to work together, please get in touch here, explore our digital services, check out our latest designs for nonprofit websites, and find free growth tips and insights in our growth library.