Taking that first step and admitting that your website has problems can be difficult, which is why we’ve enlisted the help of these adorable baby animals. (They take the sting out of bad news and hard truths.) Don’t fret, these five tips will show you how to improve your nonprofit website in no time!
1) Keep it Simple
Good design means as little over-the-top design as possible. You don’t need flashing lights to get attention, you just need something that looks good. Don’t be afraid of blank, “white space.” Think of white space as more of your friend. It breaks up text and images, directs the reader’s eyes to what’s important and forces you to prioritize and unclutter your landing pages.
When it comes to text, there’s a reason that people have been printing black on white forever. It contrasts perfectly, it’s simple and it’s easy to read. Make sure you have a color palette for your website. What color is your text, your background, etc.? Does it match your logo and your brand? Don’t go overboard with colors. Pick a complementary handful and stick with them, but also consider taking advantage of black and white.
2) Keep it Intuitive and Flexible
Don’t make your users think too hard. If your website isn’t super-easy to use, you’re doing it wrong. This starts with making your website flexible and responsive no matter what device or size of browser window you’re dealing with.
Try to make all of the information on your website accessible with the fewest number of clicks possible, and utilize tabs to keep webpages short and long scrolling pages kept to a minimum. Long page forms can come back to bite you, especially if important links like “donate here” are lost somewhere at the bottom of the page. Web users are an impatient sort, and they won’t waste time reading stuff unless they have to.
This brings us to text. If a user can’t read your text, no information is conveyed and one of the primary purposes of your site is defeated. It only takes one wealthy, elderly person with poor eyesight who can’t read the tiny text on your donation page to make you regret not bumping up text size a little bit.
3) Keep it Focused
Always keep in mind that your website has a purpose outside of looking cool. The best websites are those that ultimately increase awareness, donations, action, etc.—not necessarily those that are the most aesthetically pleasing.
Most people decide within five seconds whether or not a webpage contains the information they’re looking for before pressing the dreaded “back” button. This makes keeping your landing pages focused even more critical. For example, the focus of your home page might be to quickly summarize what your organization or business is all about and to offer quick navigation to other pages. You might also have a call-to-action page, where the focus is to “close” on the sale or donation and get the user to a payment page.
Whatever the case, be sure that your pages are organized and each serves an important purpose. If you burn any calories rationalizing why you need a page, you probably don’t need it.
4) Keep it Content-ed
Content is king. How many times have you heard that one? Well, it’s true, but conTEXT is queen, and is often the case, she’s the real brains of the operation. She tells content king what to say. Content speaks largely to the focus of your website and webpages, as discussed earlier. When it comes to content, make sure to stress quality, not quantity. Ensure that your message is both clear and concise. Don’t write tomes of text on your landing pages—very few people will actually read it all.
But good thoughts and grammar aside, it’s just as important that you keep good content coming. Few things make a website look worse than out-of-date content or content that’s few and far-between. If you don’t have time or don’t care enough to update your content and engage with customers and donors outside of business transactions, why should they care about you?
Consider adding good, professional images and videos to your website, as well. They not only attract attention, but can help to humanize your organization and cause. Integrate your social media into your website. It can not only act as another platform to share your own social media activity, but can serve as a handy place to link to your social media along the way. One great example? Allowing donors to share their donation experiences on Facebook and Twitter.
5) Keep it Search Engine Optimized
You know what’s even better than a website that is clear, concise, integrated with social media and beautiful? A website that gets viewed. All is for naught if no one can find your website on search engines. With this in mind, it’s important to build your website and write your content with SEO in mind.
Keep track of searchable terms that you want to rank and show up in search engines. These should appear in your title tags, URL chains, etc., and you should make sure that title tags appear on you welcome page, other major pages and in your content. Remember, it’s webpages, not websites that rank in SEO, so give all your pages the attention they need. You should also be sure your website hosting service isn’t too expensive for what you’re getting, can support your needs and won’t break.
It’s true, building a website is tough (especially from the ground up) and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Even if you’re not building your own website, having an understanding of what makes your site useful, attractive and just plain good, is a huge advantage.