An obvious place to sign up for an email newsletter. A well placed donation button. A prominent photo that conveys your mission. I’ve seen how these tactics can boost the results of a nonprofit’s website, but there’s plenty more that organizations can do on this front. These top five lessons serve as a good starting point for evaluating the effectiveness of your organization’s website.
1. Back to the basics. Does your homepage cover essential points that meet the basic needs of your website’s visitors? To see how good a job you’re doing at providing this critical information, ask yourself a few questions. Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish with our site? Do we proudly display our tagline, which clearly summarizes what our organization does? If your homepage answers these key questions, then you’re on the right track.
2. Tell a compelling story and tell it well. Whose lives are you affecting? How are you making a difference? Clearly communicate these details on your homepage if you want to convince a visitor to become engaged with your organization. If a visitor understands how their involvement could make a difference, then they are more likely to dig a little deeper and might even give you their email address, make a donation, take action, or volunteer.
3. It’s never too early to start building a relationship. Does your content try to address the masses, or does it target the major audiences you want to reach? Hopefully, it does the latter. Your website content needs to be structured in a way that meets the information needs of these different audiences. Think in terms of personas, each with its own detailed demographic information, description, online habits, and needs as they pertain to the programs and services your organization provides.
4. Keep it fresh. Are you presenting website visitors with content that is timely? Are you refreshing it frequently to encourage them to visit more than once? Dedicate at least one section of your homepage to the latest news, call-to-action, or other piece of current information that will appeal to your target audiences, and update it regularly.
5. Data is priceless. Do you track key information about your website (e.g., source of visitors, actions once a person arrives on your site, which pages visitors look at, how much time they spend on your site, etc.)? If not, then get cracking. But remember, just tracking information isn’t enough. You need to use it too! Make informed decisions about website content, design, architecture, advertising and more based on an analysis of the data you collect.
Admittedly, these lessons only scratch the surface of website effectiveness. Read more tips in the 2010 Nonprofit Resolutions Guide and share some of your own here.