Your nonprofit’s website is the center of your communications strategy. It’s a key tool for boosting engagement, donations, and awareness of your organization in your community. When you use a multi-channel marketing approach, you probably rely on other promotion channels like email, social media, and digital ads to point supporters back to various landing pages on your website.
Keeping your website up-to-date and modern is essential to engage your audience and ensure they have everything they need to get involved. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate your site regularly and determine how you can take it to the next level.
To help you get started, here are five top strategies for revamping your website:
- Update Your Website’s Branding
- Review Audience Engagement Metrics
- Optimize for Mobile
- Ensure Your Content Is Accessible
- Connect Your Website to Your Other Marketing Materials
According to Loop, the best nonprofit websites “draw your audience in, instill a sense of trust, and compel people to take action.” Consider whether your website is serving these purposes as effectively as possible, look to other organizations’ sites for inspiration, and use the tips in this guide to develop a plan for making the most of this essential resource. Let’s dive in!
1. Update Your Website’s Branding
Your nonprofit’s brand helps you stand out from other similar organizations, connect with your audience, and represent your mission through cohesive visuals and messaging. Because your website is essential to your communications strategy, your brand should be featured front and center.
First, if you haven’t already, establish a brand guide for your nonprofit, as this document will serve as a reference to ensure your brand is accurately represented on your website. It should define these main elements:
- Colour palette. People naturally associate colours with certain feelings or ideas, so use your colour palette to reflect your mission. For example, many healthcare organizations use red as their primary brand colour because it represents passion and strength, while environmental nonprofits often favour green as it’s associated with growth and nature.
- Typography. Consider using two typefaces that complement each other—one for headings and one for body text—to add visual variety to your website and other branded materials. Additionally, keep in mind that sans serif fonts are often easier to read on a screen.
- Logo. Your nonprofit’s logo is a visual representation of your mission and often the most recognizable part of your brand. Most organizations use a combination mark, or a logo design containing both symbols and words, but wordmark logos with creative typography choices can also be effective.
- Messaging. While branding is commonly associated with visuals, the way your organization communicates through written content is also part of your brand. Consider your tagline, mission statement, tone, word choice, and even mechanics as you develop your nonprofit’s brand.
Once you’ve reviewed your brand guide, walk through each page of your nonprofit’s website to ensure your brand is accurately represented. If your nonprofit has rebranded since the last time you updated your site, make sure your new brand is fully incorporated. A consistently branded website reassures your audience that they’re interacting with your nonprofit and familiarizes them with your mission.
2. Review Audience Engagement Metrics
You’ve probably heard that data-driven strategies tend to be most effective, and your strategy for keeping your audience engaged with your nonprofit’s website is no exception. There are a variety of data points you can track to see whether visitors are interested in—and taking action through—your website.
Some popular audience engagement metrics to analyze for your nonprofit’s website include:
- Page views, or the number of unique visitors to key pages on your site such as your homepage, about page, and donation form.
- Bounce rate, which refers to the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. Lower bounce rates indicate that audiences are more engaged because they want to navigate to other pages to learn more.
- Time on page, since the more time audience members spend on a page, the more likely they are to be interested in it and consider meaningfully engaging with your nonprofit.
- Conversion rate, which refers to the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, like donating, registering for an event, signing up to volunteer, or joining your email list.
By analyzing this data, you can understand what your website does well and adjust your design approach to boost the metrics you’d like to see improve. For example, if your donation form’s conversion rate is high, you can use similar design principles when creating other forms on your site. However, if the bounce rate from your homepage is also high, you could add more links to additional resources to encourage audiences to learn more by clicking through to different pages.
3. Optimize for Mobile
According to fundraising statistics from 360MatchPro, more than half of all nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile devices. To engage these visitors effectively, make sure your website design is mobile-responsive.
Before you launch your website, test its usability on both a desktop and a mobile device, and check for the following aspects of mobile optimization:
- Images and text automatically resize based on the device being used.
- Page layouts are vertical to ensure they fit on any screen.
- Mobile users can easily tap buttons and links without accidentally clicking something they didn’t intend to touch.
Supporters should be able to do anything from a mobile device that they can on a desktop. Ask volunteers to complete certain tasks, like donating or signing up for an event, from a smartphone and a computer to troubleshoot any issues before the site goes live.
4. Ensure Your Content Is Accessible
To maximize audience engagement, your nonprofit website should provide a positive user experience for all visitors. Designing for accessibility, or ensuring equal access to your content for visitors with disabilities, allows you to do just that.
Here are some of the best ways to design your website for accessibility:
- Ensure adequate contrast between text and background colors. For maximum readability, most website copy should have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 with the background, and headers should have at least a 3:1 contrast ratio.
- Include alternative text for images. Adding descriptions of 140 characters or less as alt text allows visitors who rely on screen-reader technology to gain value from your photos and graphics.
- Indicate hyperlinks and button hover effects through underlines or movement. Simply changing the colour of clickable text or buttons can make these elements difficult for visitors who experience colour blindness or low vision to differentiate, so make them stand out in other ways as well.
- Provide transcripts of audio content and closed captions for videos. These written versions are useful not only for audience members who are hard of hearing, but also if a visitor happens to be in a place where they can’t turn up their device’s volume.
Designing your website for accessibility not only shows that your nonprofit prioritizes inclusivity—it’s also a legal issue because web accessibility is covered under the ADA. Use an online checklist like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 to review your site’s accessibility and make updates as needed.
5. Connect Your Website to Your Other Marketing Materials
While your website is the cornerstone of your nonprofit’s communication efforts, it isn’t the only channel to keep in mind as you revamp it. Consider how you can connect your updated website to your other marketing materials to expand its reach, such as:
- Email marketing. Introduce supporters to a topic or initiative in a brief email, then direct them to your website to learn more or get involved.
- Social media. In addition to linking to your website in your social media profiles, consider adding social media feeds to your website so visitors can stay up-to-date on your nonprofit’s activities.
- Print marketing. Add relevant QR codes to your direct mail solicitations and fundraising flyers so audiences can quickly donate or register for events on your website.
- Paid search ads. The Google Ad Grants program provides a monthly stipend for nonprofits to increase their visibility by directing traffic to key landing pages on their websites—consider taking advantage of this opportunity if your organization is eligible!
Remember to keep your branding consistent throughout all of these marketing channels to unify them with your website and ensure your messages are recognizable to supporters. Referring back to your brand guide as you create various promotional materials can help you make sure you’re incorporating your logo, colours, typography, and messaging in a cohesive and compelling way.
While the tips in this guide are a good starting point, your nonprofit’s website revamp could take a variety of forms. You may just need some regular maintenance, you could decide to completely overhaul and relaunch your site, or you might fall somewhere in between. Weigh your options and consider partnering with a nonprofit web design agency to determine the best course of action for your organization.
About the Author:
Ryan is a co-founder of Loop: Design for Social Good who brings a strong intuition and insight to create bold, creative & impactful websites. Ryan has led design studios in Toronto and New York using his knowledge of Human Centred Design to increase meaningful conversions and design enjoyable web experiences.