Your website is like a window into the soul of your organization. It functions as your public face, your business card, your information disseminator, your cheerleader, community hub, and your diary. It shows what you’ve accomplished in the past, what’s happening now, and what will happen in the future. In other words; how your nonprofit has interacted with and affected the world, and how it will do so going forward. Now, this is uniquely true for nonprofits. Businesses have a product to sell, and a business website is dedicated to showcasing that product. In this way, a business website is the public face, business card, and information disseminator. But a nonprofit, though most certainly is selling a product as well, is more focused on building a community and creating experiences, and to do that, a nonprofit's website has to tell a story. It has to be more than a business card.
A nonprofit is dedicated to a cause, and it’s the job of the nonprofit to sell the importance of that cause to the community. A nonprofit must educate and evangelize their mission in order to raise resources, in the form of money and manpower, so they can broaden their reach. Though nothing is more effective at creating supporters than an experience, a thoughtful, sincere website will prove to be a great educator and evangelizer for your cause. To be that, your website design has to be thoughtfully considered and expertly executed. So how will a nonprofit board know it’s time to redesign their website? Check out these 6 triggers.
1. Your website design reflects what you were, not what you will be.
One of the many jobs of a nonprofit board is to take a look at similar successful organizations around the country to see how they are presenting themselves. I would suggest looking at nonprofits that are today where you would like to be 3-5 years from now. If your website design is far behind the quality of similar organizations, or organizations you aspire to be, it’s time for a redesign. Here are a few things to look for: Modern website design uses visual hierarchy. Are the things you want your visitors to look at first the most prominent on your front page? Is your website text heavy? Modern websites use images and video to present themselves. Are you using flat design? Flat design is a style that does not give the illusion of three dimensions, which means drop shadows, gradients, and textures are de-emphasized. It’s a more minimalist design genre that visually looks cleaner, and because there are less design elements, web pages using flat design tend to load faster.
2. You have many different types of audiences and your website does a poor job engaging them.
Unlike business websites, nonprofit websites have to speak to a variety of audiences. These audiences include members, volunteers, donors, and the general public. Each audience type is looking for different information. How well does your website route the different audience types to relevant information? Does your website have a member portal? Does it take donations, and is the donate button prominent? Is there a volunteer section? How well does your website convert general viewers into members, volunteers, and donors? If your website is not engaging your audiences effectively, it’s time for a redesign.
3. You're frustrated with your Content Management System.
Your nonprofit's website is your primary communication tool. Everything you want to tell the world begins at your website, and even your social media links back to it. Because of this, it is vital that your website runs on a powerful, user friendly Content Management System. A Content Management System (CMS) is a computer application that allows multiple users to manage data and content that makes up a website. Examples of CMSs are Wordpress, Joomla, and Brick River has our own awesome CMS platform
. Whichever one you use, you need to make sure it allows you to easily post blogs, videos, calendars, and more. Your content tells your story; it needs the right platform.
4. Your website’s technology is long in the tooth.
Are you using plugins that that are out of date? Do they break on you? You can tell me. Is your website using a HTML table-based layout? Because modern web design uses CSS. Out of date plugins, and HTML layouts are signs it’s time for a redesign.
5. The user interface is confusing.
This is not just a routing issue, though that plays a part. The user interface must be easy to negotiate. If it’s not, viewers will leave your website in a hurry. Your audience wants information, let’s make sure it’s easy to access. Menus need to be clean and simple, with limited options. Text should be kept to a minimum. There should be “whitespace” to give contrast to important information, and declutter the page. Any action you want a viewer to take must be prominent, and logically placed. To use the donation example again, the donate button should be clearly apparent. If your user interface is confusing, it’s time for a redesign.
6. Your nonprofit’s website is not responsive.
Responsive web design means the website adapts its layout to account for the viewing environment. Viewers are no longer looking at websites on just their computer. Websites are now being viewed on mobile devices about half of the time. Because of this, it’s important for websites to look as good on a smart phone as they do on a computer. Responsive design aims to craft sites that adapt and resize across a wide variety of devices. If your nonprofit’s website is not responsive, it’s time for a redesign.
If any of the above triggers are true for your website, you and your board should seriously consider having your website updated. Modern web design is focused on conveying an organization’s message in the cleanest, clearest way possible. While this is important for every organization, it’s particularly important for a nonprofit, who’s needs are more complicated and broad than a standard business.