School's Out for Summer: How Will you Improve Your Nonprofit's Webiste? | npENGAGE

School’s Out for Summer: How Will you Improve Your School’s Website?

By on Jul 12, 2012

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Nonprofit Web Design

Nonprofit Web Design School’s out for summer and you’re catching up on work, planning for a new school year and making some much needed, long overdue updates to your website, right?

But the overwhelming question looms…where should you start?

While you have some time this summer, ask yourself the following questions so you can identify opportunities for improvement in your school’s web presence.

Does Your School’s Website Speak to your audience?

You (or your board) may think your school needs a flashy, sensory-overloaded website full of glam and moving parts.  But is that what your audience wants?  Maybe…but maybe not.  The only real way to know for sure is to ask:

  1. Identify your key groups and what they care about.  If you’re a boarding school, your prospectives may want a way to tour your school without committing to a visit – do you have a way to accommodate?  Your young alumni may want a way to get involved without having to donate money in a down economy…are you giving them opportunities?
  2. Use the right language.  Know that writing is an art…AND a science.  Every bit of content should showcase your school’s mission and voice.  Avoid industry jargon and acronyms.  Keep it simple, but include descriptors for clarity and SEO improvement.

Is your school’s unique story clear?

Use the 5 second test – ask 20 random constituents to look at your homepage for 5 seconds and tell you in 50 words or less what your school is all about.  This will show you how clear your school’s mission is to your digital audience.

Telling your school’s story clearly and succinctly will give you the opportunity to differentiate yourself, gain clarity and earn trust.

There are many ways to share your school’s mission, but one easy way is to share real stories of impact.   Sharing stories of how others are affected by your school, your outreach and your educational experience will build credibility and encourage empathy.

Are you interacting with users?

It’s a fact:  An interactive site gets more return visitors, allowing you to communicate more frequently, build deeper relationships and encourage action.  There are many ways to interact with your constituents:

  1. Ask them to share their stories:  Why did they choose to apply?  What was their first year like?  How have they stayed involved after graduation?  What’s it like to be an educator at your school?  The information that comes from these questions is not only interesting, it’s useful – it encourages sharing, gives you valuable insight into your strengths AND lets your constituents know you care what they have to say, which we know you do.
  2. Let them get to know you through multimedia:  Your users’ preference for consuming content varies, just as their browsing and navigation styles do. Allow users to consume information in multiple ways – video, imagery, text, interactivity and audio.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  We’ll share lots more tips and ideas for making your school’s website more impactful during a free web seminar next week!  Join us for “Online Tools and Web Design: The Top Web Design Best Practices Your School Should be Employing”.  If you have ideas or thoughts from your school to share, please comment; I’d love to hear them!

 

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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