By Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, PIR
This article is part 3 of an 8-part series called “Bootcamp for Mission-Driven Organizations”.
Building an engaging and well-functioning website is important to the success of your non-profit or good-for-the-world business. Do you know just how important? The answer is “very,” when you look at the statistics. According to a recent article by Website Builder:
- It takes .05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website;
- 57% of consumers won’t recommend a poorly designed website;
- 94% of first impressions are based on visuals and design;
- 88% of website consumers don’t return to a page they had a bad experience with; and
- 91% of small business websites aren’t optimized for mobile use.
The stakes are high for creating a website that engages visitors, tells your organization’s story, and promotes your work. The good news is, it’s easier than ever to do that. Once you have registered your domain name and chosen a hosting platform, it’s time to pick a website builder and get to work—and you have a number of low and no-cost options for those. Whether you do it yourself or hire a web designer, there are core principles that steer your site toward success. Above all, this should be an inspiring and enjoyable experience for your team, one that helps you define your unique offering. Here are our top four website building tips:
- Build On Basics
Every organization has its goals and needs when it comes to creating a website, but there are certain standards visitors expect. The typical website includes a number of core pages: Home Page; About Us; Products/Services (for businesses) or Mission/Our Work (for nonprofits); and Contact Us. With this as your starting framework, you can be creative and add more material once you’ve established the site and your organization has grown. Some options include adding donation functionality, blogs for key leaders, the ability to register for your events, volunteer information and sign-up forms, and social media feeds (see tip #4).
- Create Clear Content
Websites encourage engagement. They give prospective donors or consumers a sense of who you are and what you do—and inspire or motivate them to take the next step. While it’s important to give enough details and information to draw visitors in, it’s equally important to not overwhelm them with words. Copy should be written crisply and coherently and be free of typos or mistakes. Copy writers can be a good investment, and some may even work pro bono for a good cause. To get you started, here is a great piece on writing for non-profit websites by www.classy.org.
- Images are Integral
Photo and design elements on your website should support and enhance the messages conveyed through your copy. For both: less is more. Most website building tools will offer various themes. Pick one that feels compatible with the tone of your organization and its mission. Choose colors and graphics that reflect your overall brand, and make sure your site also works well on mobile devices, as 51.3% of visitors will view it there! Strategically use photos that show your team in action. Human faces can make a business or mission feel more “personal” and help visitors connect. Consider having photos and names of staff/board members to personalize the site-but don’t forget to get their approval first.
- Findable and Followable
In order to attract people who are interested in what you do, create with an eye toward Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which maximizes the number of visitors to your website by ensuring it appears near the top of results returned by a search engine. Take the time to learn words and phrases your audience might enter into a search engine to find you. Include those words and phrases naturally throughout your website—don’t go overboard—and you can attract the attention of search engines. In addition, your website builder may offer tools that help you enhance SEO. Once you’ve gotten visitors to your site, you want them to stay in touch, so be sure to include social media links to drive viewers to and from your site!
As a new non-profit or business, you can make a huge step toward success with a well-designed site. We hope these tips are helpful and look forward to visiting you at your home page soon!
Resources: Choosing the Right Website Builder
Having a functional, interactive, and compelling website is essential. But, how do you know which website builder is best for you? Here are some resources to help you make your decision. The non-profit blog, www.donorbox.org, offers their top choices for non-profits, while www.nonprofithub.org offers their low cost picks. And www.business.org provides a comprehensive side-by-side comparison. Take a look, pick your builder, and start creating your most powerful tool for reaching members and donors.