3 Reasons Your Nonprofit Website Needs Responsive Design | npENGAGE

3 Reasons Your Nonprofit Website Needs Responsive Design

By on Aug 11, 2017


Writing Code for a nonprofit website

Did you know that organizations update their website, on average, every 2-4 years?

While this seems to be quite frequent, and perhaps more often than some of you may like, if you think about your website in terms of technology, four years is a very long time!

Let’s consider how much has changed in tech over the last 4 years:

Since 2013, we’ve seen the adoption of the smart phone, the start of smart watches, selfies, and touch ID. Apple watches have added GPS and health tracking capabilities. Social media introduced  the “selfie” and innovative accessories like the “selfie stick” for capturing better pictures. Touch ID has evolved to allow for easy sign-on to apps and even allow for payments (i.e. Apple Pay). And perhaps most notably, 2013 was also the beginning of responsive design (Mashable). As a result, website experiences have had to change significantly—from the way websites are designed and developed to the Content Management System (CMS) used and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

What is responsive web design?

According to Wikipedia, or Nielsen Norman Group, an Evidence-Based User Experience Research Firm, responsive web design is an approach to web design aimed at allowing desktop webpages to be viewed in response to the size of the screen or web browser one is using to view a website or webpage. This means that a site’s content and images respond to the dimensions of the devices its site visitors are using.

The top 3 reasons your nonprofit website needs a responsive website:

1. Multiscreen Supporters

According to Adobe, on average, 83% of global consumers report they are multiscreen, using 2.23 devices at the same time. This means that your supporters now expect for your nonprofit to provide the best possible website experience on every device they own:

  • Consumers ranked display as the most important aspect when it comes to content experience in their personal life (65%)
  • 54 percent listed overall good design, such as appealing layout and photography, as important.

And even more than that, research from Blackbaud shows that mobile giving is on the rise. 14% of donations were made on a mobile device in 2015—that’s a 45% increase in one year. Your supporters are no longer just visiting your website via a desktop computer, so your website strategy and design must accommodate for the shift to mobile.

2. Search Engine Optimization

The update to Google’s search algorithm to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in search results has forced nonprofit organizations to adapt.

Today, if your nonprofit website is not mobile- friendly, your organization is losing out in search rankings to sites that are. For example, if a potential supporter conducts a Google search to find the best local pet adoption spots, the nonprofit organization with a mobile friendly or responsive site is primed to rank ahead of others.

Without a mobile friendly website, only a heavy lift in digital advertising spend can help you out-rank your competitors. And, as we all know, funds are limited for many nonprofits, so a long term digital advertising strategy is not a justifiable fix. This is why a mobile-friendly site is a great—and important—investment, especially for those who have limited long term advertising dollars for paid search.

3. User Experience

A study conducted by Blackbaud showed that, on average, nonprofits see a 34% increase in their conversion rate when they have a responsive website and responsive forms.

It’s simple: a website is easier to navigate with responsive website design. Easier navigation encourages visitors to explore your content and engage. And if you accept transactions on your website (i.e. tickets or donations) you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to check-out on any device!

53% of mobile viewers will abandon a website if they have a poor mobile experience. Thus, the overall user experience is just as important as having a responsive design.

What this means for your nonprofit website strategy:

In this digital age where everyone is looking for access to information quickly, it is important that you create the best nonprofit website with a mobile-first experience in mind. Responsive is important—yes—but it’s also important that your website’s content strategy is designed with supporter and visitor needs in mind. Think about driving engagement and user experience for the mobile-user first, then expand up for the desktop users. Using a rapid prototyping, or a mobile-first and iterative process (illustration below) you are able really focus on your website experience, how to tell your story, and engage your visitors on all devices. After all, that is the goal, right?

Nonprofit Website Strategy


Liz Hiers is a Sales Overlay at Blackbaud. She’s inspired by creative people and thrives being able to work with them. Her passion for creativity and love of all things design allows her to marry her experience with Blackbaud products to her thrill for seeing nonprofits reach their goals with outstanding, innovative, and visual experiences. She has a background in Education and Sales but made the transition to design when she joined a local Charleston design agency. Liz is a NOLA native and can’t stay away for too long. When not working, she might be found volunteering, reading, traveling, or on the tennis court.

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