How to know if your non profit website needs a redesign?

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It’s that time of year. You’re planning your budget for next year. Many organizations forget what a valueable asset their website is. But if it’s not working, it can be doing more damage than good. Use this mini checklist to determine if your website needs a redesign in the upcoming year.

  1. Your messaging and brand isn’t clear: When potential donors or people just solely interested in your organization goes to your website, what you represent and your brand needs to be RIGHT THERE. If they have to browse around your website to understand your organization, you can lose them. They will “drop off” and move on to an organization that has a clear message and brand they can understand. By having a buttoned up presentation, it shows you know what you’re doing.
  2. They can’t find what they’re looking for: Don’t make people dig. Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your website. Make it easy for them to get where they want to and fast. You’ve heard the old saying “get them where they need to be in 3 clicks or less.” This is still the norm. If you can get them there in less time, then great. This can be accomplished with content that is well organized. A well thought out navigation structure is important. The last thing you want is to frustrate your visitors. Sit down with your team and organize your content. Create the right funnels for visitors.
  3. make sure you have a clear call to action on your websiteNo clear calls to action: You don’t know how many times I’ve seen non-profit websites that don’t have a donation button on their site. Or worse yet, there is one but it’s hidden deep into your content. I recently wrote a blog post on the importance of a donation button and some of the easy ways to accomplish this. Now there are some exceptions to this. There are organizations that are really more education driven or volunteer driven. Take for example the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Although donations are important and they accept them, they are really focused on visitors to their museum. So I worked with them to make sure there were key call to action (CTA) items on every page. Everywhere you go on that website, you are able to donate, visit the museum or volunteer. Whatever your organization is focused on, there needs to be clear actionable items for visitors.
  4. The website is out of date: The message and content on your website should be timely. There are some items that may never change but keeping fresh and up-to-date information lets users know you are on top of your organizations needs. There’s nothing worse than going out to a website that is featuring an event on their homepage banner that’s been over for months. If you are unable to update your website because you don’t have access or there’s no one with the know how to update it, you have to come up with a solution and fast. An out-of-date website can stop people in their tracks. It can cost you a donor or volunteer. Find a reputable web designer/developer or even a volunteer that can help you either figure it or present you with another solution.
  5. The CMS or lack of one is just difficult to work with: This ties in with item #4. There are some CMS tools out there that are just complicated or difficult to use which can hinder the ability to update the site. You need to have something in place that’s easy for even the most technology challenged volunteer to update. I’m a fan of WordPress. It’s so easy to use and update. It’s a great alternative if you’re looking to make a change. My client Respite Care of San Antonio was dealing with this very thing. I recently upgraded them from the Joomla CMS to WordPress. Their site is now more simplified, direct and the WordPress CMS makes it so much easier to keep updated.
  6. It’s all together unappealing: If your website looks like it did 10 years ago, it’s time for a change. People in general are very visual. So when they come to your website you want to wow them not only with the message and brand but with “curb appeal”. Take for example, Positive Tomorrows. Their previous site was pretty plain and dated. But after I got to visit with them a bit, I was able to plan out a visual and bold design that right up front conveyed their message. When a users goes to their website, they know exactly what it’s about.

If you would like to read more articles about engaging websites, NTEN recently published an article in their quarterly magazine entitle “Four Strategic Foundations of Effective Websites” that you might find of interest.