Are you a nonprofit considering a new website?
Before you get overwhelmed with of all the technical details, it is important to be sure you are grounded in the basic elements that will make your site effective in supporting your mission.
Here are five things to consider when kicking off the planning of a new website:
- Put the user first. Think about your mission and supporters and put yourself in the shoes of a first time visitor to your site. How can you get visitors to quickly understand the mission of your organization? How can you make the actions you want visitors to take clear and the navigation easy to understand? The navigation should be clear, simple, and intuitive. You need to have a strategy for creating an awesome user experience—and not just what you want, but what they want.
- Have clear and compelling content. For starters, you only have seconds to capture the attention of a visitor. Can you come up with a description of your organization in 10 words or less that is clear and compelling? Throughout your site, plan for content that gets to the point quickly. Recognize your content should contain the keywords and phrases that will support search engine optimization (SEO), which allows you to be found on the web. As long as you’re publishing content that supports your goals, objectives, and brand, this effort isn’t monumental, though it is made easier with proper planning. It’s important to build and test your visibility on the web.
- Showcase your impact. Be sure to share your successes. What stories can you tell that will drive visitors to support your mission? Make it easy for a user to find and understand the impact you are having. Give visitors opportunities to learn about aspects of your work of interest to them. Do you have photos and video you can use? Another aspect to consider is how to show your organization’s personality. Share information about your staff, including why they are dedicated to your mission and how they are making an impact. Including photos of staff—and making it easy to contact them—gives your site a more personable feel.
- Offer opportunities for other to help. Does your site make it clear as to how interested people can help or support your mission? Many nonprofits have a variety of ways people can help support the work of the organization. Simplifying opportunities for engagement—be it donating, volunteering, or signing a petition—is a great way to increase the chances of getting more people to support your mission in a way that suits their inpidual situation.
- Be social and mobile friendly. Have social sharing links on every page, especially blog posts to enncourage sharing of your content. Make it easy for bloggers and social media networkers to embed your photos, videos, and other key content. This will attract visitors from external sources and help you build your community and referral links. Making your site mobile-friendly is crucial as most organizations are seeing (or will soon see) the majority of their traffic coming from mobile devices. The technology platform you use should be responsive, adapting your site for any internet connected device. Design elements such as larger text and thumb-friendly buttons need to be considered when users are using smaller devices. Having brief, clear, and concise content is an important element for mobile.
I hope these five tips have given you some food for thought as you start thinking about your new site. There will be lots of other considerations as you get in the weeds, but it is critical you stay grounded in the basics.
Part of our mission is to support the nonprofit community so we are always happy to answer any questions and appreciate your comments.