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How to Design Your Nonprofit Website for Better User Experience

By on Jan 23, 2017



I bet most people you know have made some sort of a New Year’s resolution and are excited about executing it (at least for a while…) I am one of those people. Mine was to be a better designer this year and to outdo my old self from 2016.

As I was thinking about what kind of designer I really want to be, I realized that even though I’m trained as a graphic designer, I don’t see myself as one anymore. Instead, I would describe myself as someone who designs online experiences. So, how do I go about designing better user experiences this year? I reach out to my brilliant team!

The other day, my team sat down to research growing trends in web design, and guess what… Most of the articles that surfaced were about the shift from a heavy focus on pure visuals to refocusing attention on creating layouts that present content in an intuitive, efficient, and “delightful” way.

As designers, we want our users to say, “wow, this makes me feel/act in a certain way” instead of “wow, this site is pretty.”

3 Tips to Design Your Nonprofit Website for Better User Experience:

1. Personalize:
As a strategist, I work with clients on audience analysis. We make decisions based on research about who visits their website and why. Even if you think you don’t know who visits your website, you can easily make a few good guesses about it by jotting down some characteristics of the constituents you personally know.

Nonprofit Content Marketing Example

Think of their names, backgrounds, and demographics to create a simple persona that will give you a better picture of the their expectations and how they’re likely to use your site. It is much easier to create content for your website once you understand who’s going to need it and how/why they are going to interact with it. Read more about personas and how to go about creating them on usability.gov.

2. Understand Behaviors:
Do you know what your visitors are doing on your website right now? How have they interacted with your content in the past? If you’ve ever wondered if anyone ever reads those newsletters you post on your website, there’s an easy way to find out. You can get a pretty good view of how users behave on your website, without having a lot of technical knowledge, by setting up Google Analytics. If you haven’t already set it up, go ahead check out this Google Analytics page for instructions. You will only have to set it up once to get instant access to your data. Then, you’ll get to see which pages people visit with insights about how long, how often, and where they are coming from. These insights will allow you to make decisions about your content based on data, not assumptions. Oh, and it’s free!



3. Improve Conversions:
Have you ever wondered if people are clicking on that register button, or if they are scrolling to see your content at the bottom of the page? There’s a tool that allows you to see that called Crazy Egg!


Example of Crazy Egg

And, you can sign up for a free trial. Crazy Egg combined with your Google Analytics data will give you all the information you need to adjust your content for a better user experiences and higher conversion rates.

The old but true phrase “content is king” still rings true in 2017!


Aga Siuda is a Design Principal at Blackbaud and is known for turning complex challenges into usable and beautiful website designs. A native of Poland, Aga takes inspiration in international nonprofit design trends and best practices for usability.  She loves the magic that happens when designers, strategists and clients collaborate.

Aga earned her Graphic Design degree from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She ran a small design agency with a focus in branding before relocating to Charleston, SC to enjoy the beach life with her husband and two kids.

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