When to Consider a Design Overhaul for Your Nonprofit Website
Ira Horowitz

Ira Horowitz
By Ira Horowitz

Since nonprofits depend more than ever on online interactions to engage current and new donors and promote their mission, they need to ensure that the cornerstone of their online presence—their website—is in tip-top shape.

However, this can be a challenge. For many grassroots and local nonprofits, an on-staff tech team might be financially out of reach. However, ready access to modern tools and design agencies means even small organizations can create outstanding nonprofit websites (like these examples).

Here are four signs that your nonprofit’s website may be due for an upgrade.

Your website is outdated—in tech, style, or content.

Websites are most effective when they’re easy to keep up-to-date. If it’s too complicated to write a blog post or install the latest software update, you’re more likely to let these tasks fall by the wayside.

Ignoring these tasks can create a poor experience for users or even create cybersecurity risks. Plus, supporters won’t be impressed with your nonprofit if it looks like your homepage hasn’t been updated in a decade!

A good nonprofit website should enable your team to add new content, make changes, and conduct routine software maintenance. On top of these functional updates, it should also fall in line with recent design trends and have a modern look and feel.

Consider whether your website makes it easy to:

  • Promote your latest campaign or event
  • Create new content about your mission
  • Update contact information
  • Install new plugins or update current software
  • Add a popup or lightbox modal to highlight campaigns
  • Text size
  • Layout
  • Image size
  • Navigation

If the idea of completing these tasks gives you a headache, your website needs some work. Overhauling your site to a modern content management system (CMS) can lessen the burden of website maintenance going forward.

Your website isn’t mobile-responsive.

More than 50% of today’s web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website doesn’t function well on smartphones and tablets, you’re alienating more than half of your site’s visitors.

Mobile responsiveness refers to the principle that your website should respond to the device a visitor is using to access it. Just being able to load on a mobile device is inadequate; nobody wants to squint, zoom, and scroll just to read your homepage.

A mobile-responsive site will adapt elements to fit the appropriate screen size, including:

These factors can be make-or-break for a mobile visitor who is considering donating to your nonprofit. Plus, search engines consider mobile responsiveness when developing their rankings, so this consideration is also important for search engine optimization (SEO).

Instead of completely reworking every aspect of your current website to become mobile-friendly, it can sometimes be simpler to relaunch your website with an updated mobile-first design or WordPress theme.

Mobile-friendly websites are a form of web accessibility to ensure that visitors have an optimal experience regardless of device But you shouldn’t stop there. There are dozens of ways you can make your site more accessible for supporters, such as writing adding ALT attribute text for all images and links.

Your website isn’t driving donations to your nonprofit.

One of the primary goals for your website is to raise funds for your mission. If it’s not achieving this objective, it’s time to rethink your approach.

Gather data about the reach and impact of your site, including metrics like bounce rate and conversion rate. If these numbers are too high or too low, respectively, try to diagnose the problem.

In general, you’ll want to make sure your website has clear navigation so that it’s easy for visitors to find their way around – and make their way to your donation page.

The donation page itself should be engaging, clear, and above all, concise. As Donately’s list of donation page best practices reminds us, “Every extra step is another chance for your donor to back out.”

If your team only has the bandwidth to update one section of your website right now, your donation page is definitely the place to focus your attention first.

Your website doesn’t integrate with your tech stack.

Your website should be able to work seamlessly with your other nonprofit technology. If your current site is an island, it’s time to build a more interconnected ecosystem.

Ideally, your website should allow donor data to flow back and forth from your website to other systems, including your donor database, marketing software, matching gift software, and any other program you use frequently.

An integrated system can save time, help your team work more efficiently, and reduce data entry errors.

And with today’s CMS and plugin options, you can find a customizable solution that connects with your unique tech stack. The Cornershop Creative roundup of the best WordPress plugins for nonprofits recommends starting your search on marketplaces like Wordpress.org, Envato, Elegant Themes, and Tidy Repo.

Ira Horowitz, who oversees the project management team at Cornershop Creative, is expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising and helps guide nonprofits to determine their long-term strategy goals for online communications.

October 2020