How to Improve Your Nonprofit Website

The One Constant in a Decade of Digital Work

I recently joined the Collaborative team as the Senior Digital Project Manager. In this role, I’ll be guiding and advising clients as we work together to ensure that websites, social media and content marketing plans are aligned, engaging and, most importantly, breaking through the noise of today’s digital landscape.

Clients started asking me the question “How do I improve my website?” back when Geocities hosted webpages and the blink tag, in all its irritating glory, was a thing. The question was much simpler in the early days of the Internet, and the answers were much easier to provide.

Today, the game has changed a little. There are so many components tied to making a website—and organization—thrive in a digital world. Questions are no longer just about website improvement; they’re broader. Now they’re about creating a successful digital presence. More likely than not, clients have begun to dig deeper, asking questions like:

  • How do I get more people to sign up for my email list?
  • What’s a good number of Facebook likes?
  • Should we be reaching out to influencers on Twitter? Wait, what’s a Twitter influencer?
  • How do I know my digital marketing is working?
  • What is responsive design, and should my website use it?
  • How do I execute a content marketing campaign if my organization doesn’t have the time to produce content?

Today’s shifting digital landscape requires us to track so many more variables. There’s a lot more data to sift through, multiple tools to understand and channels to reach users. But we can still get to actionable answers that expand your digital reach and amplify your organization’s message!

And that will be the goal of this blog series: to explain and empower nonprofit leaders like you with approaches to taking advantage of these digital opportunities. We’ll discuss all the questions above, in the context of exploring:

  • How to define your users, your goals for your website and even why you have a website;
  • The discovery, documentation, and requirements processes that every website (and digital project) requires;
  • Digital marketing and reaching your users wherever they are online; and,
  • The latest digital trends and buzzwords, to see how they relate to your work.

In this blog, I will likely introduce a lot of new terms, concepts and possibilities, but I will also help you understand and use these ideas in everyday efforts to reach your audiences.

Still, amazingly, amid all these changes, “How can I improve my website?” is a valid and useful question, and a great place to start your digital improvement journey. If we can agree on the assumption that your website is really there for your users and one of their first stops toward learning about your organization, you can start with this exercise:

Take out a pen and paper and write down the three main actions you want users to take when they land on your website. Examples of this could be “submit email address for the user to receive email updates,” “have the user click into a resource section to gain background on a specific issue” or “download a PDF.”

Now, bring up your website and write down answers to the following three questions:

  • Do we clearly communicate a request to take those actions?
  • Do we clearly articulate to the user the benefit in taking these actions?
  • Do we make it easy for the user to take those actions? (How many clicks are needed, how many forms need to be filled out, etc.)

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then expand on that answer by articulating how the situation could be improved. By taking this next step—explaining how you want to change the site, not just that it needs to change—you’ve already done two important things: taken the first (and hardest!) step toward creating a website requirements document, and you’ve framed up how to increase user engagement on your website.

In my next post, I’ll dive into what to do with that information. In the meantime, I’m issuing an open invitation: If you have a topic you’d like covered here, feel free to reach out. You can find me via email, Twitter and LinkedIn.