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Nonprofit Website Evolution

At NMS we’ve undergone a couple of website redesigns in the last decade. Just like our nonprofit clients, we are trying hard to make sure we communicate with our audience in the most concise and effective manner. Online capabilities change so rapidly and with so many “shiny objects,” sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where you need to be focusing your redesign energy.

Nonprofit Tech has a story featuring the Wayback machine – the capability of seeing screenshots of your website as far back as 1996. They chose to compare screenshots of the World Wildlife Fund from 2008, 2010 and 2013 noting the difference social media and other technological advances had on the website design itself.  It’s a great read, especially if you are looking to update your website. We walked away learning the following: Top 5 things to make sure you have integrated on your site.

E-newsletter Subscription

While social media outlets tend to reign supreme, email campaigns are still the gateway for donor retention and communication with audience members who do not share your social media excitement. Your community is getting inundated with statuses all day long – a well written and timed email cuts through the crowd. Even if you’re new, you can capture their information and begin communicating while you build your website.

Strong Calls to Action

Your community will respond more when guided where to go and what do to: “How you can help,” “donate now,” “sign-up here,” “learn more,” “volunteer today” in bright, bold, and large letters are must-haves for your nonprofit.

Larger Font (and less of it!)

Gone are the days of 8-10 font size on a website – also gone are the days of paragraph after paragraph on the home page. Research shows audiences will decide within 10-20 seconds if they are going to stay on your site, click through to learn more, or leave just from what they see on your home page. Your site needs to effectively and concisely communicate your needs, wants, and mission.

Visual Imagery

Images have replaced text Period. In order to make an impact you need to have strong visual – or a strong impact video (less than 30 seconds) on your homepage. Images speak louder than words, especially on your homepage. Infographics are a great tool to use on your site if you have strong statistics to elevate your cause.

Integrated Social Media

A visitor shouldn’t have to “look” for your social media links when they arrive on your page. We have spoken with many beta testers who jump to the website specifically for the Twitter handle or Facebook page, never stopping to actually look at the website. Embed your videos from your Nonprofit YouTube Channel, have your buttons visible and ready (and working!). The website is your landing spot and the propellant to your social media sites. Amy Ward, in npENGAGE, gave a great analogy: the kitchen, aka, your website, is where everything occurs in the planning of the party. As the host, your role is to circulate with your guests and provide the fun. Social media allows you to mingle but there’s content of conversation, listening to guests, serving the right food and drinks etc…. thoughtful engagement matters in reaching your community, too. Even if you only have a facebook page, make it visible and readily available for your community:

These are great reminders for all of us as we take a good look at our websites. Have you retooled your website? Let us know, we’d love to take a look!

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