These days, your organization’s website is typically the first impression people have of your nonprofit. If your page is poorly designed, it may steer potential supporters away, completely throwing off the digital marketing strategies that you’ve worked so hard to develop.
An admirable mission alone is not enough to drive donor engagement and retention. A good webpage explains your mission, but a great webpage can make the difference between a passive supporter and an active, dependable donor.
When donors find a page slow, untrustworthy, and difficult to use, they’ll abandon their donation, leaving you without the funds your organization needs to function. The internet has made us all impatient when it comes to website performance, so don’t risk losing your audience before you’ve had a chance to really engage with them!
Viewers’ engagement will reflect the effectiveness of your website, so you should aim for a high-quality design that anticipates their needs and makes it easy to get involved. Let’s jump right into how to make the most of your webpage with these 5 smarter design tips:
- Make navigation easier.
- Standardize your branding.
- Feature your donation page.
- Make use of visuals.
- Ensure website security.
Nonprofits can only function and thrive because of their supporters’ generous contributions, so you’ll want to have an effectively designed page to drive more giving. The online market is a crowded, competitive place, so use these tips to make a webpage that stands out to potential donors.
Making your site easier to navigate means making it easy to understand and access. When visitors get frustrated navigating your site, they’ll likely leave. Follow these best practices:
- You’ll want to include a navigation bar that’s visible on every page of your website except the donation form. This makes traveling between all your content easier, but limit the navigation choices to the essentials. If you give users too many options to choose from, they might overlook your more important pages like your donation form.
- Page titles should be concise. So concise, in fact, that they’re only 2-3 words. These few keywords should tell exactly what the page is about. Keeping titles this short keeps visitors’ attention while also minimizing the space they take up.
Don’t forget about streamlining how your own staff navigates your site’s backend and data management tools! For the best results, integrate other programs like your donor database and your fundraising software with your website for better navigation and data flow throughout all your systems.
In addition to these ways to simplify the donors’ experiences and helping your staff make the most of your site, you should pay particular attention to your site’s load times and mobile usability.
Minimize load times.
Each element on a page loads individually, which increases the time it takes your site to load. Visitors want the information they’re searching for within seconds, not minutes. When they don’t get this information quickly, they’ll often leave your site, so minimize load times by:
- Resizing and compressing images.
- Minimizing plugins and fonts used.
- Choosing HTML and CSS over Flash Player.
Online donations are often made when a donor is spontaneously feeling generous. Make sure your online donation tools allow you to customize the donor experience and offer a simple, quick process. Forcing them to wait while your clunky site loads might make them reconsider their generosity or cause them to get distracted and not follow through.
Optimize for mobile users.
The next level of navigation is making content usable for mobile users. According to Double the Donation, mobile users make up roughly half of all nonprofit website traffic. 25% of donors complete their donations on mobile devices, so you don’t want to miss out on this market!
Most website builders use a responsive design framework that automatically translates well for mobile users. However, you should still keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep layouts vertical.
- Use larger fonts.
- Don’t cram the page with unnecessary elements.
When you finish designing your page, you can always check your own smartphone to make sure it’s optimized for mobile users. Some website builders even offer a mobile preview tool where you can see your site the way a mobile user would as you go along!
When you carefully brand your website to your organization, you create a cleaner, more fluid look that conveys your brand. Use your logo as a starting point.
Before diving into formatting your site, make a style guide that defines what look you want. Consider a few elements such as:
- Colors. Pick 2-3 colors to use throughout your page based on your logo. Take it a step further by defining which elements will be styled in which colors. For example, you may want navy blue buttons with white icons and black on-page text.
- Font. Select one font and don’t differ from it. Choose one that’s legible but still conveys your brand.
- Images. Determine what look you want your images to have as well as formatting and sourcing.
When you create guidelines beforehand, you make physically formatting your site a breeze after finishing content creation. On top of an easier formatting process, standardizing your branding ensures your visitors feel secure when browsing your site.
This is because consistent formatting throughout each of your pages instills trustworthiness. If readers are jumping to pages that don’t look like they came from you, they’ll likely think they’ve ended up on someone else’s website. They want to engage with you and won’t trust unbranded pages that look like they belong to a different organization, especially if they’re trusting you with their payment information.
Strong, consistent branding gives supporters a stronger image of your organization in their minds, making you more memorable and recognizable.
As a nonprofit, your goal is to get passionate people on board with your cause. You want them to donate time and money in order to make your mission possible, so your donation page should be featured prominently and should be easily accessible from every page with a donation button.
The donation button should be located in your navigation bar at the top of your site so that it appears on every single one of your pages. Your donation page should be designed with just as much care as the rest of your site. Consider these tools to boost donations:
- Add a recurring donation option. Encourage donors to continue giving and provide them with the option to select the duration of their recurring donations. Include the total donation amount, because transparency will earn their trust!
- Include suggested giving amounts. When a new donor sees a suggested giving amount, they have a reference for how much they should give. They may also be influenced to give more if they think others are giving more than them.
- Add a matching gift tool. By doing this, you ensure donors know about potentially increasing their contributions through their employers and make it easier for them to search for their companies’ matching gift programs.
When your donation page is easily accessible, donors can easily get to it the second they decide to give, and providing them with extra tools like a recurring donation button can increase your donations and create long-term relationships.
Choosing the right visuals can add an extra layer to your site that attracts visitors. Not only should your page draw in visitors, but it also needs to communicate your nonprofit’s identity.
When designing your donation page, consider the following:
- Feature your logo prominently. Readers should instantly associate the donation page with your nonprofit, and incorporating your logo is a great way to accomplish this. Make sure to also include it at the top of your “Thank You” message when supporters donate.
- Incorporate branded colors. Just like the rest of your website, your donation page should be customized with your organization’s color scheme.
- Place impactful photos. The images that create the largest impact are those you’ve taken or created yourself. Make sure to include emotionally-charged photos of those you serve, photos of your staff and supporters, and infographics that explain key concepts.
Not a graphic designer? No worries! You can always use intuitive website builders or well-designed fundraising tools that provide a good donor-facing experience. Alternatively, try working with a web design consultant with experience in nonprofits. fundraising consultant to help you design an enticing donation page.
Supporters won’t want to give to your organization if they don’t feel like their private payment information will be properly protected. There are a few steps you should take to ensure donors’ security. Consider these security basics:
- A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate authenticates the website, allowing the webserver to initiate secure sessions with users. It’s indicated in the URL as ‘https’ rather than ‘http’. In order to collect donations through your website, you’ll need an SSL. Since you’ll most likely receive sensitive information like street addresses and phone numbers from your donors, you should use Extend Validation (EV) SSL certificates to protect their data. Your browser will provide special visual cues like a green padlock to indicate that your site is protected.
- Encrypt and use tokenization to protect your donors’ credentials. Encryption will protect donors’ private data by making it unreadable by unauthorized users. Tokenization will keep this data secure for post-authorization transactions like recurring donations. For more information on the importance of token-based authentication, visit this guide.
Taking these basic security steps can protect your nonprofit from a security breach. When you feel confident in your website’s security, you should then go further to implement even more advanced and secure protocols! These extra safety steps will protect you and your donors’ information.
Websites are an investment. While every nonprofit should invest in a quality website, not every nonprofit can shell out the necessary funds. If your organization is on a tight budget, consider these low-cost website options. Dependence on technology is growing. In fact, 54% of donors worldwide prefer to give online, so it’s more important than ever to have an effective, well-designed page. Don’t just throw your nonprofit’s site together. For additional ideas on designing your nonprofit’s website, click here.