This is a guest post written by Emma Wolfe, Content Marketing Growth Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency.
Rehauling your nonprofit’s website can be a daunting undertaking. While it might seem beneficial to cut budget corners and do everything yourself, we recommend reading up a bit more on nonprofit website design.
The challenges of nonprofit website design can seem overwhelming at first. Often, complications pop up along the way that only the experts can handle. Plus, your nonprofit’s website is your digital home and the first online impression of your organization, so it’s extra important to ensure that it’s done right.
This leads to the question, what do you need to focus on to make sure your site really sings, and why are these essentials better left to the professionals? We’re glad you asked.
User experience: what is it and why is it important?
You might have heard the phrase “UX” tossed out there once or twice without realizing what it meant. UX, or user experience, is the relationship that a website user has while navigating your site. It’s holistic in that it includes everything from ease of navigability to the overall feeling a user has while visiting a website.
Before you embark on designing your new or updated nonprofit website, you will first need to consider the different groups of users visiting your website and what they require. It’s not uncommon that you may have a few major groups of site visitors and you want them each to perform different actions on your website. For example, a potential donor will need to go down a different path from someone looking for volunteer information.
Hiring an expert to create a UX report with detailed user groups and navigation paths for your organization’s website is fundamental for creating an effective page. Not properly considering your user groups and their paths will lead to lost donations and confused site visitors.
Content first: why custom design is the way to go
Your content is the driving force behind your nonprofit’s website design, and tackling this mammoth issue is essential. Your web design should be based on both written and visual content that your organization wants to showcase.
Nail your tone
Pedal Revolution, a seriously cool nonprofit bike shop in San Francisco, nails their web copy. Their voice is casual and gives off the vibe that you are just chatting with their employees in the shop. However, they remain grounded by their overall mission of changing communities by aiding at-risk youth, adding a level of seriousness. They back up their mission with some awesome visuals as well, most notably a professionally made impact video.
Customization is key
Like Pedal Revolution shows, awesome content really is about personalization and the sharing of human experiences. Many times, drag-and-drop or templated options just don’t cut it for nonprofits because the mission of a nonprofit is so personal. This means that one-size-fits-all messaging will leave your supporters disengaged, rather than touched by your cause.
Instead, working with a professional to create a custom approach based on the content of your organization will yield infinitely better results in terms of longer time spent on your pages, and even more donations.
The importance of branding: How do you brand a website?
Your website sets the tone for your digital presence and needs to be properly branded to do so effectively. This means things like color choice, saturation, and tone. In addition, typography, logo design, and icon choices become small details that can yield big results.
All of these aspects together establish your brand identity, and getting it right is essential for consistency, coherence, and building among your audience. Working with someone to establish your website’s brand will also help as you embark into the world of social fundraising pages and other digital platforms.
A brief glance at the American Brain Tumor Association’s home page reveals a strong brand identity. The cool color palette and lack of icons indicate seriousness, but the photograph indicates human connection and family.
This brand is carried into ABTA’s Twitter account. The same filter is used in the banner image, and the same shade of purple is used as an accent throughout their profile. The brand also informs the image content choices, again relying heavily on family-focused and human-centric imagery.
The tech side: what goes into development?
The code that your website is built on is a completely different language, and not all of us speak it. When redesigning your site, these technical coding details need to be done well or you risk losing your site credibility if something goes wrong. Things like mobile and browser responsiveness and complex integrations require the help of developers who speak code fluently.
These developers are also essential when it comes to your donation experience. We are past the age of the PayPal button and, instead, UX principals keep the user on your site while donating. This could require integrations, form building, and SSL certificates.
For this reason, it’s essential to leave this responsibility only in the hands of someone with the proper know-how, or look to companies who offer plug-and-play donate buttons that are already fully compliant and optimized for donor experience and donation conversion.
Tackle nonprofit website design the simple way
There are so many online tools that promise the sky when it comes to web design, but your website is too big an asset to not be handled with care. It’s worth it to do some research as to which vendor or web developer is right for your budget and organization. Accepting a helping hand from a code-savvy volunteer or patron can seem like a welcoming and budget-friendly option, but things like donations, member information, and custom design are items for the experts at GoFundMe Charity to handle. Sign up today and find out how their charity platform can take your organization’s website design to the next level.