6 Keys for Nonprofit Website Design, Part 2
[Editor's note: This is part 2 of a two-part series on nonprofit website design tips from Clover co-founders Ben Rugg and Jim Elliston. View part 1 here.]
4. Ability to update and edit
The Internet isn't a static environment. Therefore, your website cannot be a static hub. You can't just "set it and forget it." Donors check websites for a variety of reasons, and one of those reasons is for updates about your organization, mission or relevant news. That means the ability to keep your website updated in-house is vital, Elliston says.
"For the past 10 years, programming has really been in the hands of the few, so you're stuck waiting for things to get updated," he says. "Users should be able to edit and add text, video, images, podcasts, etc. … They need to have the ability and confidence to edit and maintain their website themselves. Technology is way too good to not be able to do that."
If the people in your organization who are tasked with maintaining website content can't actually update the site themselves, look for new software that allows them to do that. Your site must keep pace with donors' expectations.
5. Make it look as professional as possible
How can a donor take your organization seriously if your website looks like something straight out of the 1990s? For many donors, your website is their first impression of your organization, so it better have a professional, clean look and feel if you expect to establish a relationship and solicit funds. Simply having any old website just won't do any longer. It must look the part.
"It's a hard target to hit, but aim for something that really looks professional," Rugg says. "There is such an incredibly big difference between, let's say, a local car commercial and a nationwide car commercial. Everyone can see it — even if you don't know why, even if you can't explain it — you can see it. It's the same thing with websites.
"Your website is your face. It's as important as your brick-and-mortar store looking good," Rugg adds.
6. Focus on your online presence to drive traffic to your website
Donors no longer use the Internet simply to check out a website and make donations. They go to the Web for so many other reasons. Between social networks, games, meetings, shopping, gathering information, etc., it's more important than ever that nonprofits have a multichannel online presence to create awareness and drive donors to their websites.
"People are starting to be involved with your online presence beyond just your website. It's going to be more and more important to have an online presence in all those ways people engage online: website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.," Rugg says. "There's so many ways to get people involved. You can do things like Meetup.com to schedule events. There's so many ways to allow people who are already involved with your organization to spread the word on their own.
"Driving donors to your website off of those other areas of the Web is important too, whether it's through social media, word-of-mouth, search engine optimization, whatever you can actually do to get people there," Rugg adds. "A website is like a hotel in a desert — you have to find a way to get people there; otherwise they're not going to see it."
Moving forward, your focus has to be on your online presence as opposed to just your website, Elliston agrees. There are so many creative ways online to raise funds. It starts with the proper website design and continues by building an engaging, wide-ranging online presence.