4 Quick Tips for an Engaging Nonprofit Website | npENGAGE

4 Quick Tips for an Engaging Nonprofit Website

By on Mar 20, 2012 | NONPROFIT-FUNDRAISING

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Think back to your college days for a moment…you’re walking across campus, tired from the night before, wondering if you’ll be late to class…and you see someone who catches your eye.  In 3 seconds, you evaluate their overall look:  Clothes, Hair, Smile, Approachability, Confidence and even hygiene.

Then in an instant…

….you decide what to do next.

Do you say hi and open up the conversation?  Or do you avert your eyes and walk on?  If you approach, a combination of their look/feel has brought you in.  If you walk on, something about the initial observation kept you from engaging.

Now that you’ve indulged my nostalgia, think about how this scenario can easily translate into your nonprofit website’s interactions and engagement with your constituents.

As your visitors browse the highly competitive Internet scene, they will choose to engage with websites based on equally subjective, visual and emotional elements as mentioned above.  The way you portray your organization at first glance will determine your visitors’ path to interaction…or lack thereof.

Within 3 seconds of landing on your website, your visitors make a decision.  If your website has done a good job of engaging them with a first impression, they’ll be much more likely to talk to you, give you a chance and get to know the real you, leading to involvement, engagement and ultimately the action you want!

To make a LASTING impression, you have to make a FIRST impression. “…the colors, the layout and the presentation of headings are all evaluated before any content is actually absorbed” –Jason Gross from Smashing Magazine writes. Your website’s design communicates your organization to the world, and should consider the same care that a person would consider when looking for a mate.

Here are 4 Tips for Creating an Engaging Nonprofit Website:

  1. Include engaging, actionable imagery:  eye contact, emotion and calls to action are key in the imagery you select for your homepage. Creating that emotional connection will encourage a user to linger long enough to give them the chance to learn more.
  2. Make content scan-able with headings and links that resonate with your audience.  Reading paragraphs is only likely on a blog (thanks for reading J) not on a website’s  homepage…keep homepage content easy to use and save the novel for those who click to it.
  3. Share your mission visually: Try the 5-second test on your site – Choose 10 people who aren’t engaged with your organization.  Show them your website’s homepage for 5 seconds, then ask a series of questions about your organization;  what you do, who you serve.  Are they correct?  If not…refocus.
  4. Prioritize Content:  Your website is a tool that is meant to mobilize your audience…make every pixel count.  If the content doesn’t work directly towards your mission, leave it out.  Simplification and purposeful, prioritized content are the keys to engagement.

So, nonprofits, it’s time to shower, shave and invite website users to get to know you…Entice them, but also show that you have more to offer than just a pretty face!

Download the Nonprofit web design white paper if you’d like to learn about all 10 tips for creating an engaging nonprofit website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from Clemson University, Kelley Jarrett began her career as an advertising and branding strategic account manager in Atlanta, where she helped both for-profit and nonprofit organizations realize their branding goals through web strategy, marketing and advertising. In 2003, Kelley joined Blackbaud and now is the market manager for Blackbaud’s new creative design agency,Guide Creative where she uses her passions for bringing creative ideas and online strategy to nonprofits together.  She speaks annually at Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits as well as various nonprofit trade conferences on the topics of web strategy and design.  Kelley lives downtown Charleston, SC, is married to an architect, has two little girls and enjoys urban gardening, chicken farming, living close (enough) to the beach, and live music.

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