This week, I was writing some recommendations for an organization on the design of their new website. It had a beautiful look and feel, but the content was rather disorganized and confusing. And the truth is, it’s easy to find yourself in a similar situation. While there are many low-cost website options (WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.), most nonprofits don’t have the resources to hire a professional to help them determine the content or structure of their new website. However, there are many ways that your nonprofit can optimize your minimal investment in a website. This post will give you the four questions to ask when creating a website to reach your audiences.
1. What are the goals for our site?
Do you want to get more clients from the site? Do you want to raise awareness of a certain issue? Do you want people to attend events and engage their community? You may not be able to do everything with your site, but figure out your top 3 goals for the website.
2. Who is required for achieving those goals?
Think about your website from that audience’s perspective, and ask yourself if it makes sense. If you are looking for clients, what type of person is that? If you’re looking for donors, is it clear what their donation supports and how to donate? If you’re looking for policymakers, is the language written in a way that relates to policy?
4. Have we created clear pathways for information?
Look at your navigation. Does it make sense for your audience? Is it built in a way that leads your audience through your website, like a guided tour? Or is it a pile of unsorted information?
Ask a few friends of yours to visit the website and see if they know where to go for information. User testing is a key component of designing any website, and your nonprofit can do it for free by just asking a few friends, donors, or board members to give you feedback.
And my personal favorite…
5. Is everything we’ve written completely necessary?
Writing about your organization can be tiring. You have to write constantly for grant proposals, e-mails, brochures, you name it. So it can be tempting to copy and paste boilerplate to the website. But it’s vital to realize that half of your visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your page. Now, they’ll spend more time on newsworthy content like blog posts, but that means the content that sits on your website every day (e.g. About Us, Who We Are, Our Services) needs to be short and sweet.
Websites bear the brunt of information on a nonprofit, and they can support your nonprofit goals. By just asking yourself these questions, you can make sure your nonprofit is getting to the point to get your community to take action.
What do you think? Are there other questions nonprofits should ask? Share it in the comments!