Website design for non profits: questions to ask before redesigning your websiteOctober 7, 2016 by nayana
Not for profit organisations such as charities, clubs and associations often begin as the passion projects of deeply committed individuals in service of a particular need or activity, with everyone learning as they go. But as a 'not for profit' grows, you have to widen your circle and rally the horses. The website for your non profit is an important asset, and the website design and content should be fully optimised to work for you.
But before you begin a website redesign, there are a number of conversations you should have with your board, staff, key volunteers and clients. Hold meetings, focus groups, and discussions with your most important people, and be sure to ask them these questions:
What do we use the most on the website?
It's easy, in the middle of a redesign, to accidentally break what was working. Does your board often pull up your history page when talking to potential donors? Do your clients regularly check your calendar to keep up with events? Are your staff constantly including links to your donation page in their emails? Knowing why and how your most important people interact with the website will give your design project direction and focus.
What are we proudest of?
Maybe your board is proudest of your history. Creating, expanding or clarifying the narrative of your history page can make new members aware of just how far you've come and how much you've achieved. Maybe your clients value the community and relationships you foster. Lots of photos will help get those intangibles across. Or maybe, it's the profound impact your organisation has had on it's clients' futures. Testimonials should definitely come across loud and clear. Ask everyone to keep their lists to two or three items. When you're creating a website these lists help you prioritize. They should be part of the first impression you make on a new visitor to your website.
What is our brand?
This can be the hardest question. But it's also extremely important. A website that gives the wrong impression can impact donations, fundraising, partnerships and programmeme expansion. Although this question is a project in its own right, even a simple question will help you hit your mark. Ask everyone to come up with three adjectives that they feel describes your organisation. If your constituents describe you as warm and caring, then cool, clinical colours are probably not a good choice. If people value your organisation's simplicity, then paring the copywriting to essentials will communicate that to your website users. If your constituents view your organisation as sophisticated, then for goodness sake don't use comic sans. Knowing how your organisation is perceived by the people who care helps you strike the right first impression for those you want to recruit to the cause.
What do we need?
Now it's time to think about what your website can achieve. Your website can be advocates for your cause, personal assistants who keep your constituents connected, news alert services, platforms for discussion, teaching tools. Like we said, they're powerful assets. So get concrete about what you need it to do. Do you need your website to better support fundraising campaigns? Videos often increase donations, so you want to make sure your website can support them. Are your clients confused about the range of services you offer?
Your programmes page should be given a good going over. Would it be helpful for potential supporters to know exactly how to help? Then your "get-involved" menu should include concrete action points. Keep your list of needs practical, concrete and manageable.
Asking these four questions before embarking on a website redesign for your non profit organisation will save time and money in the long run, and engage people at all levels of your organisation in critical conversations about what's most important to you. If your website needs a reboot, contact us to optimise your website to achieve your goals.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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