The No. 1 Reason Nonprofit Websites Fail and How to Fix It Immediately
[Editor's note: This article is an adapted version of the original blog post on NetWitsThinkTank.com.]
Redesigning a website is exciting. It allows for a fresh design, new ideas, new technology and a renewed focus with your online presence — all factors that drive people’s excitement.
There is one problem though. Organizations tend to spend too much time looking inward at what needs to be improved rather than on the primary focus of the website, which is appealing to and engaging supporters. Here are four ways to help solve the problem of building your website for the wrong audience.
Identify your audience
Start with your database and website analytics. Gather all the data you have, and use it to help identify the primary groups that frequent your website. Next, interview a group of your highly engaged supporters and volunteers. Once you have gone through these two activities you will have a much more clear idea of whom your website should be designed for.
Outline primary tasks
Each of your audience groups has things (or tasks) it wants to accomplish on your website, and those tasks each have a defined path that people need to take in order to complete them. Find out what these tasks and paths are by watching your audience interact with your current website. Make sure to record their sessions and take detailed notes. The information you collect here is instrumental in the eventual wireframe and design of your site.
Organize tasks by significance
Once key tasks are identified, you will find that many of your audience groups share common tasks. Tally these common tasks into a condensed list of tasks being performed on your site. This prioritized list of tasks helps you understand what your new website should focus on.
Design your website based on common tasks
Now you are working with a solid understanding of the way your constituents use your website. At this point, your findings from the previous three steps can be applied to the design wireframes, ensuring that the website is designed with the most important tasks that your audience needs to accomplish in mind.