Your nonprofit’s website is the center of your communication and marketing strategy. It’s what you use to drive engagement, donations, and awareness of your organization. When you use a multi-channel approach to marketing, you probably point your audience back to specific landing pages on your website. If your site is out of date, you’re missing out on valuable support from your visitors.
Keeping your website up-to-date and modern is essential to engage your audience and ensure they have everything they need to get involved with your mission.
Examining the best nonprofit websites out there may give you an idea about whether it’s time to revamp your website or not, but we recommend also using a more empirical approach to determine if you need a new online strategy. In this guide, we’ll cover common reasons your website may need a revamp, including:
- Your content is out of date.
- Your website doesn’t reflect your current brand.
- Your site doesn’t engage your audience.
- Your website isn’t mobile responsive.
- Your site isn’t accessible.
Once you’ve determined if your website needs to be reexamined, review the best nonprofit websites available once more, using their design as inspiration for your new and improved website.
1. Your content is out of date.
Imagine a member of your audience navigates to your website looking for an opportunity to get involved with an event. They see the information about a gala event that your organization is hosting at the local aquarium. Excited, the supporter clicks through to read more about this engaging event, only to find that it already occurred last month.
This is not only a disappointing experience for your visitor, but it can also lead them to ask a series of questions about your organization as a whole.
Is the organization still relevant? Are they on top of their mission? If they can’t manage to keep their website updated, how can I trust them to manage my contribution?
These are not the types of questions you want your audience to ask about your nonprofit.
When your nonprofit’s website content is out of date, your audience won’t be able to find the information they need to get involved. Plus, it can create a bad reputation for your organization.
Double-check that your website content strategy is up-to-date, including information such as:
- Donation information. Make sure your donation form is updated with the latest, most relevant campaign information.
- Contact information. If your audience has questions about your organization, they should be able to reach you without a problem. Make sure your email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses are all current.
- Event dates and information. When an event ends, it should immediately be taken off of your website. If it’s an annual event, update the calendar with the dates and information for the following year (or a TBD notification) as soon as this year’s iteration ends.
- Engagement opportunities. Events aren’t the only opportunity for you to engage your audience. All advocacy campaigns, social media links, and other engagement opportunities should be relevant and available for your audience to get involved with directly on your website.
If your content strategy isn’t up-to-date, it means there are likely other elements of your website that also need to be updated. For example, if you haven’t reviewed and refreshed your content strategy in ten years, then your website design may also look outdated. You can use the revamp process to update multiple pages or aspects to give your site a uniform, cohesive look.
2. Your website doesn’t reflect your current brand.
Your nonprofit’s brand identity should be representative of your organization’s greater mission. When someone sees your logo out in the community or on their friend’s t-shirt, they should immediately know what that logo represents. Of course, your brand is larger than just your logo.
Loop’s nonprofit branding guide describes your brand as the way you position your nonprofit apart from every other organization out there. This includes the type of language you use, the message you send, and the visual representation of your organization.
If your organization doesn’t already have a brand guide, create one that covers both the visual elements and positioning of your organization’s brand. This will include information such as:
- Brand colours. Choose colors that naturally associate with your mission. For instance, if your mission has to do with environmental conservation, you may choose green as one brand color. Or, if you’re a part of a healthcare organization, red may be a natural choice in color.
- Logo. Your organization’s logo is the visual summary of your organization’s brand. It should be a simple symbolmark or wordmark that you can use on your website. Use this logo on your website, letterheads, email, social media, and other marketing materials.
- Typography. Typography encompasses your fonts, font-weight, hierarchy, and style. Choose legible fonts that represent your mission. For instance, an advocacy organization may use a bold weighted, vertical typeface to represent their organization.
- Tone. Your nonprofit’s tone comes out in the way that you speak, write, and communicate. Organizations that work with children may choose to have a more casual, relaxed tone. Meanwhile, professional associations may prefer a more formal approach.
Then, walk through each page of your nonprofit’s website to be sure your brand is accurately represented. If not, you probably need to revamp your website to better represent the brand. If your website simply looks out of date, you can update your branding guide with new information to create a more modern and attractive site that accurately reflects your organization.
Make sure every page consistently represents your brand, from your homepage to your event calendar to your donation page. Branded pages reassure your audience that they’re interacting with your nonprofit and not a scam or a third party. This makes them more likely and more comfortable engaging with your site and providing personal information within your site forms.
3. Your site doesn’t engage your audience.
Review the analytics from your nonprofit’s website. If your conversation rate is low or bounce rate is high, it’s a good indicator that your site isn’t engaging your visitors. They may not be finding what they need easily or may not understand what you’re trying to convey.
Over time, websites that are outdated and lack a modern design will naturally decline in engagement. That’s why regular maintenance is a necessary best practice for nonprofit websites. However, if these engagement metrics are chronically low, your nonprofit may need more than routine maintenance—you may need an overhaul.
Some of the considerations you should take into account when redesigning your website for engagement include navigation and A/B testing.
If your website has poor navigation, that means it will be challenging for your audience to find engagement opportunities. It’s frustrating when audience members try to look for your mission, donation opportunities, or upcoming events, only to get lost in the navigation of your site. They’re likely to abandon your site altogether.
Use strategies like card sorting and tree testing to revamp your navigation and make sure everything is easy to find. With card sorting, you’ll ask a group of volunteers to organize cards with content topics into groups that make the most sense to them. This helps you create user-friendly main and sub-menu items based on audience research. Tree testing works similarly, but you’ll ask volunteers to navigate categories to find certain information from a clickable menu. Then, you’ll gather their feedback about the ease of use after the experiment.
Use A/B testing when you’re trying to decide between designs and determine which will better convert your audience.
For instance, you might show half of your audience one version of your donation page and the other half a different version. Whichever page converts at a higher rate should be considered the more effective option and then implemented on your site.
Engagement on your website is especially important in this day and age. As your audience is physically further than ever before, offering digital opportunities to get involved is the best way to maintain a connection with them.
4. Your website isn’t mobile-responsive.
Over half of today’s website traffic occurs on mobile devices. Therefore, an unresponsive website design will alienate these mobile users and they’ll be more likely to bounce from your site.
Ensuring a mobile-responsive website is an important part of your mobile strategy. Many website themes or CMS functions promise mobile responsiveness, but you should always double-check your mobile functionality to be sure it’s responsive.
Some of the most important responsive features to look for include the following:
- Images resize with the screen size.
- Text is still easily readable no matter the device it’s viewed on.
- Clickable elements still function on mobile devices.
Supporters should be able to do anything from a mobile device that they can on their desktop. Ask volunteers to complete certain tasks (like donating or signing up for an event) from their phone and from their computer to be sure the process is easily completed from any device. Ask for their feedback to make sure your site is effectively responsive.
5. Your site isn’t accessible.
Effective accessibility on your nonprofit’s website is necessary to ensure you don’t alienate certain audiences from viewing your organization’s content. For example, a colour-blind individual may have more trouble distinguishing colors if there’s not enough contrast.
Double the Donation’s guide to accessibility names some of the most common ways that you can make your site more accessible. Some of the highlights from this guide include the following:
- Use distinct colors with high contrast. Images and text should be distinguishable from their backgrounds. For instance, large text should have at least a 3:1 contrast ratio.
- Include alternative text on images. All images should have associated alternative text that describes the image. This allows those using reader devices to gain the same value from the image as those viewing it on a screen.
- Use closed captions for videos. Closed captions don’t only provide the subtitles for a video, but also describe who is speaking and the additional noises. This way, no one misses a thing in your videos.
Accessibility is key not only to make sure your entire audience has access to your website. It’s also an important element of search engine optimization. Part of the algorithm that helps websites rank well is accessibility, so be sure yours has the necessary accessibility features for success.
If your website meets any of the criteria listed in this guide, it’s time for a revamp! Depending on the issue at hand, you may just need some regular maintenance or you might need a complete overhaul to relaunch your site. Consider your needs and discuss the options with a web design firm. Good luck!
About the Author:
Ryan is a co-founder of Loop: Design for Social Good who brings a strong intuition and insight to create bold, creative & impactful websites. Ryan has led design studios in Toronto and New York using his knowledge of Human Centred Design to increase meaningful conversions and design enjoyable web experiences.
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