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Regardless of whatever online advertising, social networking, or digital media you’re implementing, your nonprofit’s website is still a vital part of your online marketing strategy. We have called it the “digital face” of your nonprofit. This emphasizes the importance of the public’s view of your website’s content and appearance. Developing and presenting the best website possible can go a long way towards achieving your organization’s goals.
Several weeks ago we wrote a post titled, 10 Essentials Your Charity Website MUST Have to Succeed. This week we discuss some steps that you and your staff can take to plan and prepare your nonprofit for a website redesign. Keep in mind that overhauling your website can be a big decision and a significant investment of time, money, and resources. Before your nonprofit embarks upon the journey, consider these 5 steps for planning a successful website redesign.
1. Solicit Feedback from Supporters
Take the time to ask for feedback from your supporters and constituents. Get them to talk about the current site and the problems that they may be having with it. Find out what sort of improvements or additions these website users would like to see happen. You should make sure that they are specific when pinpointing any redundancies, shortcomings, and confusions on the current website. These users will have a unique perspective that cannot be provided by your staff nor website designers. They can identify usability problems and highlight their personal browsing experiences on your website.
2. Engage Website Design Professionals
Design professionals have the knowledge and tools to recommend actionable improvements to your website. They can provide a fresh perspective and in-depth discussion of the possibilities that are open to you. The benefit of conversing with experts is that they have best practices and key learnings stored up from their day-to-day work and when asked they are usually willing to share. Also, by talking to various design professionals, you will be able to vet them and determine which one may be a good fit for your redesign project.
3. Establish Clear Objectives
Be clear about what you wish your website to achieve for your organization. Now that you know what users expect of your organization’s website, you can decide what marketing and communication objectives you can tackle with an improved website redesign. This can include increasing online donations through the website, newsletter subscriptions, volunteer signups, blog readership, and more. Be prepared to measure the new website’s performance against the old website’s performance. If you don’t have it already implemented, use Google Analytics to track and measure these statistics.
4. Map out a Detailed Plan
Based upon the feedback and recommendations you gathered, you can now determine what critical factors should be included in your redesign efforts to ensure a successful website. Be specific and detailed about what you want this website to look like, what it should present, and what it can do. Things to consider are the colour, layout, structure, navigation, content, images, and even the fonts. All these components are important to a website and you can read more about it in, 3 Reasons Why Visual Design Can Improve Your Charity’s Fundraising. Always keep in mind what your website requires to be a hit with your supporters and the end goals you laid out in step #3.
5. Build an Advisory Team
Invite a small number of individuals and interested parties from related fields to form an advisory team. This external team, in addition to your internal staff and third-party design professionals, can provide oversight throughout the implementation of the redesign and can offer suggestions from diverse backgrounds. For example, some team members may be fellow nonprofit staffers who have gone through their own website redesign before, some may be supporters who frequent your website, and some may be design firm professionals who can offer some tech advice. You can schedule meetings with them throughout the course of the re-design to ensure the plan is being followed and that the site will achieve its objectives. In the end, only good can come from having all these people’s insights and experiences along for the redesign ride.
If your nonprofit follows through with these 5 steps then you should be well prepared for a website redesign. If you don’t follow a clear and specific plan then you risk a costly, behind schedule, strategically misaligned website redesign process.