How to Create the Perfect Nonprofit Website Design
Behind every great website design is a crucial planning phase to create the user experience of your website. First, map out your business-driven goals, then, figure out why visitors will be coming to your site, and match up their needs with call-to-action buttons and menu navigation. Know your audiences and craft content designed to keep them engaged.
Next, map out the steps your audience might want to take as they browse your site. Use these user journeys to create your site navigation and sitemap. A sitemap depicts the architecture and hierarchy of your site’s internal pages, from the menu to the subpages. Create wireframes to start the visual design of your webpages. Wireframes are a rough sketch of the page with indications for visual design and necessary content sections, similar to an architect’s blueprint. Imagery, location of call-to-action buttons, and color choice will dictate how your visitors will engage with your site.
As you send off your wireframes to the designer, it’s time to focus on the most important aspect of your site – the content. Your website’s content will drive your visitors’ actions and boost your nonprofit’s SEO (search engine optimization). Engaging content is often short and to the point, or made easier to skim by employing proper headings and subheadings. Search engines will read your content, find related keyword phrases and decide if searchers will find it useful. Ensure you are found by the right people by performing keyword research. What are your visitors searching for, and how can you answer their questions? Update your content regularly to show search engines that you’re active.
In this phase, designers should be using the mobile-first approach to turn your wireframes into full-color mock-ups. Your nonprofit’s brand elements dictate the colors, logos, and fonts. The art of great design is revealed in the mixture of graphics and photos that creates engaging, eye-catching content while also guiding visitors efficiently to pertinent information.
During development, visual design is translated into the code that will bring your website to life. An open-source content management system like WordPress has all the plugins and tools to customize functionality to your site’s needs. Once the site is built, it will be time to upload and format all of your written content.
Before launch, your site must be tested for bugs. This entails performing full run-throughs on a wide variety of browsers and devices, measuring loading speeds, and checking that links work. The donations page merits special attention, as do other form submissions and email notifications. The last step in this process is to check accessibility for differently-abled audiences and compliance with applicable regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA.
Once the site passed your thorough QA, it’s ready to launch. Take a sigh of relief, but don’t be surprised if there’s a few more bugs found as it’s released to the public.
Your site will constantly evolve as you receive user feedback and decide to add new functionality down the line. Ongoing maintenance is necessary to keep your nonprofit site safe and running smoothly. Regularly add new content, revise outdated language, and keep your site backed up and your plug-ins updated. Also, perform regular check-ups on key pages like your donations page or event registration page. A well-maintained site might just become your nonprofit’s top fundraiser.