Making your nonprofit website a priority [#NPMC chat]
Is your nonprofit’s website brag-worthy or a source of shame? Do you treat your site as your most important digital asset, or a neglected item on your to-do list?
Digital marketing tools abound and it’s tempting – and sometimes rewarding – to test out new tools, networks and platforms. But in 2015, your nonprofit website should remain your digital priority. Last week, we shared research results that emphasized the importance of taking care of our websites. Another study conducted in 2014 revealed that charities lose millions due to slow, unresponsive websites.
So, to get a little boost – and a little help – with making your nonprofit website a priority this year, this will be our topic for the first #NPMC chat of 2015. To kick off the conversation, I posed two questions to four smart web pros, who specialize in working with nonprofits:
- David Hartstein, Content Strategist & Partner: Wired Impact
- Yesenia Sotelo, Web Developer: Smart Cause Digital
- Julia Reich, Principal, Stone Soup Creative
- Mike Mella, Web Designer, Developer and Strategist: Be Like Water
Why is a nonprofit’s website the organization’s most important digital asset?
It’s where supporters take action – David Hartstein
“For most nonprofits, your website is central in the process of turning casual observers into active supporters. Many other channels can play a key role in raising awareness, broadening your reach or engaging your community, but your website is the place most people will turn to learn more and ultimately decide if they should get involved. It’s the place to tell your story, showcase your impact and, most importantly, drive your visitors to act.”
You have full control of the experience – Yesenia Sotelo
“Your website is the only place on the internet where you have full control over how a supporter experiences and interacts with your organization. And your boss will like this one: Your website is one of the few places on the internet where your organization reaps 100% of the rewards from the time and attention that you invest into it. Unlike social media sites, your website will never wipe away all your hard work when it changes itself, or interrupt your content with unwanted ads, or ask you to pay to reach your supporters.”
It’s your most important communication tool – Julia Reich
“Your website is your most important communication tool – it helps build support and raises money. Update it frequently and use it as an opportunity to inform potential donors before they give. Make your donation page more than a transactional place online to accept donations – just forms and a list of giving options. Use it to raise awareness about your programs, services and impact with stories, engaging photos, and a compelling call to action.”
Granular awareness about your audience – Mike Mella
“Many of your visitors will find you through search engines like Google, which are designed to direct users to specific pages within your site that are relevant to their search. A search for “volunteer with [your nonprofit]” will sooner drive people to your own volunteer page than to your Facebook page or Twitter account. This lets you customize the experience they have when they get there, and your analytics package will let you drill down and learn exactly who reached your website and why.”
What one feature or improvement should all nonprofit websites have in place in 2015?
Meaningful data collection and analysis – David Hartstein
“My wish for 2015 is that all nonprofits incorporate meaningful data collection and analysis into their online marketing strategies. Doing so helps in two key ways. First, it makes evaluating online marketing success possible by framing the conversation in terms of measureable outcomes. Sure, a website needs to look great, but it should also be making meaningful contributions to your nonprofit’s organizational goals. Second, thoughtful measurement helps you make much more informed decisions as to what’s working well and what can be improved. You can use numbers instead of hunches to drive decision making moving forward.”
Compelling calls-to-action – Yesenia Sotelo
“If I can’t have world peace, can I at least have a compelling call-to-action on every single page of every nonprofit website?
If you don’t have an email signup form or some other call-to-action on every page, start by adding one. If you do have a call-to-action, take a long hard look at it. Does it say something vague like “Support Our Work” or “Sign Up For Updates”? If so, then add some of your organization’s unique flavor. ‘Your donation gives LGBT teens a home’ or ‘Join our list to learn how you can help homeless animals’ are much better options!”
Get rid of the image slider – Julia Reich
“Get rid of that automatic image slider (also called a photo carousel, hero slider, image slider, or image rotater) which was a ubiquitous fad for many years on nonprofits’ (and for-profits’) homepages. While it allows everyone at your organization to have their important messages prominently and equally displayed, usability tests show viewers ignore them. They don’t click through because there are too many competing messages – this is called ‘banner blindness’. Instead, try to determine what content truly deserves to be on the homepage.”
Make sites mobile-friendly – Mike Mella
“One big improvement that all nonprofits can make to their websites in 2015 is to make them responsive, or “mobile-friendly.” People are visiting websites on their phones and tablets more and more now, and if your site isn’t easily navigable on those platforms, visitors may get frustrated and leave.
Bear in mind that redesigning your entire site is not the only solution. There are techniques, like “adaptive design,” that allow you to retrofit your existing website for mobile. Consult a great Web developer to see what options you have!”
Join the nonprofit website conversation during January’s #NPMC Chat
How do you feel about your website? What would you like to achieve with it? What changes do you need to implement to make that happen? Do you have a successful experience to share or question to ask?
Let’s talk better websites! Join the conversation by following the #NPMC hashtag on Twitter on Thursday, January 29 at 1:00 p.m. E.T.