Non-Profit Website Design Changes That’ll Rock Your World and Your Results
Having a website these days is a basic necessity for any non-profit, but designing one is easier said than done. Unlike for-profit companies, which are mostly concerned with generating sales, non-profits have more complex goals. On one hand, you need a website that helps fulfill your mission by drawing in those you hope to impact and help. At the same time, your site also needs to attract supporters and encourage donations.
As an agency that’s led several non-profits through that unique challenge of designing a website that contributes to their mission, we’ve identified a handful of best practices for ensuring your site makes just as much of an impact as your organization does. Let’s dive in!
1) Set the Stage
You probably don’t need us to tell you that first impressions are everything. You’re probably also well aware that your website is one of the best places people run to for more information about your non-profit. It should come as a no-brainer, then, that setting the stage for your visitors is an unskippable part of designing your website. If you want your site to impact your mission, it needs to tell your nonprofit's story and introduce the problem that your organization solves.
As you explain who you are and why the work you do is so important, you need to do so in a way that appeals to all of your target audiences. In other words, you should be speaking to both the subject of your mission (those you’re focused on helping), as well as supporters of your work (volunteers, donators, sponsors, etc.).
Having split audiences can be tricky but this is where having an experienced agency behind you can be a complete game changer. Not only does PH3 have talented web designers on our team, but we also work with skilled writers who can craft your story in a way that resonates with all your key visitors. Plus, with our knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), we’ll seamlessly include keywords to boost your chances of being discovered online.
2) Prove Your Impact
Of course, having only a great story and mission isn’t enough. You also have to showcase the impact that your non-profit has had. And don’t just tell your visitors about it — call them out clearly and loudly! Leverage photos, videos, graphics, symbols, and more to paint a clear picture of the difference your organization is making.
It all comes down to putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Wouldn’t you want to see everything for yourself? Wouldn’t you want to see the authentic images of the people who have been positively impacted, watch them tell their stories in a compelling video, and discover the individuals putting in the work behind the scenes?
For all our stats-lovers out there, don’t worry — the numbers are on our side too. One consumer study discovered that the top visual elements consumers appreciate in website design are photos/images (40%), color (39%), and videos (21%). Another survey found that 82% of marketers say video has helped them increase the time that visitors spend on their site.
The power of visuals certainly wasn’t lost on us when we worked with Jobs Partnership. With a complex process and network of partners that could have anyone at a loss for words, the non-profit struggled to present its work in a way that could be easily understood. Our solution? A color-coded infographic that visually showed how Jobs Partnership inspires and equips its students for success.
By using infographics, authentic images and videos, or personal stories to show your impact, you're showing your audience that your work contributes to something real and tangible. And isn’t that what everyone wants?
3) Don’t Hesitate to Call for Action
While your non-profit website should be a reliable source of information on your organization, don’t be afraid to make it do some heavy lifting. More than just a pretty little page with some fun facts, your site should be intentionally designed to help you achieve your goals. It should be actively engaging your audience, encouraging them to take action, and becoming involved in your organization's mission.
That's why it's essential to have a clear call to action on each page of your nonprofit website. It’s like the old saying: if you don't ask, the answer is always no.
To figure out what CTAs would work best, think about who your target audiences are and what actions they might take after checking each page. Maybe it’s registering for a local event. Maybe it’s learning more about a specific initiative. Whatever it is, just make sure it brings them one step closer to supporting your cause. Not to be Captain Obvious or anything, but not everyone is ready to donate on their first visit. Make sure to warm them up to the idea by leading them to many different places on your site so they don't miss a beat.
Not sure how to do that tastefully and effectively? Our expert web designers are here to walk you through it.
4) Make it Easy to Support You
Your website is a tool to further your mission and garner greater support. It should be obvious, then, that your non-profit website needs to be designed in a way that makes supporting you easy as pie.
For instance, a “Donate” button should be highly visible and the donation page itself should be optimized to encourage donations. This means being transparent about how the money will be used, reemphasizing how important their support is, and making the process as simple as possible overall.
We followed these best practices in our work with The Lovely Project, a non-profit dedicated to empowering the next generation of women to change the world. Note how much more powerful it is to see the positive impact your donation will have as opposed to just being asked to pick a donation amount.
Don’t forget that donations aren’t the only things you can ask for. Maybe your non-profit needs local volunteers or more community connections. Create a page that describes exactly what you need, the impact it will have, and exactly how someone can get started. See how we designed The Lovely Project’s Make An Impact page to do just that.
Ultimately, prioritize making things easy for your audience. Most people want to help. They just need to know how, and your website should have the answers for them. If it doesn’t, then it’s time for a website upgrade — something we happen to know a thing or two about.
5) Optimize the User Experience (UX)
No matter how great your organization is or how interesting your content is, your audience isn’t going to bother checking out your site if it’s a headache to access or explore. Things like load time, responsiveness, accessibility, and ease of navigation all contribute to the user experience of your visitors, so don’t skimp on monitoring and optimizing these elements.
As you take stock of your current website, ask yourself:
- How fast does it take to load? A study once found that 40% of consumers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- Is your site responsive? That is, does it seamlessly adapt to the display area of users’ devices, whether they’re visiting on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop?
- How ADA-compliant is your website? In other words, is it accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who are visually impaired?
- Is it easy for your visitors to navigate? Are you using clear navigation menus and subheadings within each webpage? Can visitors intuitively find what they’re looking for?
At the end of the day, you want your audience to focus on the content of your nonprofit's website, not be driven up the wall by functional annoyances. By making sure the user experience is smooth, you bring the attention back to what matters: the positive work that your organization is doing.
Make Your Mark on the World with PH3
Your non-profit organization is all about making an impact. It’s about time your site was too.
By leveraging these best practices, you can have a non-profit website that embodies everything that makes your non-profit great, inspiring visitors and supporters alike to get involved in your mission for the long haul.
And if you're feeling overwhelmed or just need a little help getting started, that's what we're here for. Not only are we well-versed in the art of website design, but we also have a proven track record of tackling the unique challenges of non-profits, such as with The Lovely Project.