Having a strong online presence is an essential component in a not-for-profit’s success and the cornerstone for creating a strong online presence is through a website. Email marketing, social media campaigns and Youtube videos are all fantastic ways to attract customers and spread your message throughout the internet. However, it is essential that all of these customers are being actively directed to engage with your NFP.
The easiest way to do this is to have an effective website, which is essentially the digital version of your store front, now that traditional bricks-and-mortar stores are becoming a thing of the past. Even though most NFP’s do have centres where visitors can actually engage with NFP staff, they cannot compete with the level of outreach a website can offer. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if you live in a completely different city or country from a charitable organisations head quarters, you can still work and engage with them in a meaningful way.
But what are the key features every NFP website should have? It’s easy to get lost amongst widgets, codes and plugins, so what actually needs to be included and what can be left to the other businesses? The essential components of an effective NFP website can be broken down into 2 sections:
- Appropriate design
- Relevant Content
Discussing effective web design on a website development blog? How convenient! But, when it comes to online success, the only thing more important than effective design and branding is functionality. Once you’ve got your target audience and organisation goals sorted, then you can focus on designing a friendly, welcoming website that features easy to read content. Nearly 95% of new website visitors will form their first impressions regarding your website, based entirely off its visual appearance.
Things to consider:
When building your website, it is essential you use an effective colour palette. If you use colours that are too bright or clash, you may drive visitors away. If your colour palette is bland or boring, it may not keep people engaged for very long. When selecting the colours you will use, consider how we see and interact with colours in every day life.
Red is often a danger colour (think of stop signs) yellow and black or neon green suggest hazards or poison, so should be used sparingly. Alternatively, corporate colours tend to be decidedly neutral, focusing on greys, beige, blacks, navy and white as the main components of their colour palette. The colours you use will impact how customers will subconsciously process your site, so choose wisely!
Did you know that using images that include peoples faces or images of people can increase your customer engagement by up to 30%? Although it is not entirely clear why this is the case, besides perhaps, an innate fascination with other people’s faces, it’s hard to deny that images featuring actual people in them are more relatable and engaging than those without.
Think of a picture of a mock-up clothing item on a mannequin and then imagine how that compare to a picture of an actual model wearing and show casing the clothes. The image on the model seems more appealing, even if the mock-up is styled and positioned in exactly the same way. If there’s a way of incorporating images of people, ideally real people from your organisation, it should be included on your website!
Not many people know this about comic-sans (arguably the most detested font in the world) but it’s actually easier for people with dyslexia to read and process than other fonts like Times New Roman. Now we’re not suggesting you use comic-sans as your primary type-face on your website (in fact we’d strongly advise against it) but do take into account the important lessons about accessibility and readability that comic-sans can teach us.
W3.org provides set guidelines as to how to ensure your website is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, vision impairment and hearing impairment. Since some patrons visiting your not-for-profit may be those who struggle with such impairments, it is essential your website caters to them. Things like
- Having enough contrast between your font and background so the words stand out
- Having a font that is easily readable from a distance with distinct separation of letters (think Arial vs Script)
- Using headings and putting enough space between text and elements on your website.
Are all factors that can help make your site more accessible and easy to use.
People who are likely to read and consume your website content can be split into 2 relevant groups: potential members and potential donors. Whilst there is some cross over in their information consumption, there are certain website components each group will look for.
Think about a time you were looking for a club, or membership scheme that you wanted to join. If there’s a large, thriving community, it provides social proof and you’ll be more inclined to join up yourself. If it seems like it’s just you and a couple of others (who aren’t even in your city) you’ll probably move on and look for more populous groups.
It is important that you showcase your community and be vocal about up-coming community events, including how members can get involved and what the organisation needs from members. Do you have a way of showcasing the difference your community has made in your particular NFP sector? Results or funds raised? People want to make a difference, so show them how other members have done so in the past!
Another way of engaging potential members is by ensuring they have access to informative and specialised content that further educates them about the cause and its efforts. One way of incentivising people to join or become a member of your NFP is by providing specialised access to this content, which can encompass everything from webinars to annual reports.
What donors want is simple- an easy and effective way to donate with no-strings-attached. If you’ve ever made the occasional donation to a worthy charity, you’ll know some of them can go a little overboard on the text and email marketing. Some people just want to make a one-off payment because they feel good that day and that’s ok! So help enable those impulse donations!
The idea donation button is large, easy to see and read and requires you simply press ‘donate now’ put in your payment information and have the payment processed. Whenever you require forms, background information or personal details, it puts potential donors off and suddenly that impulse donation gets put in the too hard basket.
Another way you can appeal to potential donors is to provide transparency around where their donations are actually going! Include explicit information and breakdowns of what happens to their money once it’s been processed. Donors will feel more secure in their decision and will be able to experience the gratification side of donating!
If you’re looking to improve your NFP’s website design and attract more members, talk to Web 105 today!