Is your website so last . . . decade?
If you haven’t blown the dust off your online presence for a while, now’s the perfect time to get ready for the 2020s and really look at your website through the eyes of a new donor, prospect or website visitor. According to Nonprofitsource.com, 90% of people who get direct mail from a nonprofit will visit their website before contacting them. Nine out of ten people. You wouldn’t let them tour your physical house for sale without first making sure that it’s all cleaned up, refreshed and updated. Likewise, don’t try to sell your cause without doing the same for your online home.
Hopefully you have a website with a user-friendly CMS (content management system) and are able to update your website with point-and-click simplicity. If not, that’s the first place to start; please find a content management system that puts you in the driver’s seat of your online presence. You should be long past the days of relying on a programmer or web developer to make simple content changes and updates to your website.
Once you have that taken care of, you can begin the process of auditing and updating your site to make sure it allows your online visitors to engage with your organization in whatever way they’d like, whether it’s donating, volunteering, signing up for emails or looking for education.
Here are six questions to ask yourself about your website:
It’s easy to get busy and forget that your website is still “running” a campaign that ended a few months ago. Or that your blog hasn’t been updated since last year. But if you’re not keeping your content current, you’re sending the message that the lights are out at your organization. Refreshing your content on a regular basis shows visitors that your organization is active and making an impact, plus it offers them value. It’s important to take inventory of your webpages frequently to make sure you’re not featuring outdated information.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 52.6% of global website traffic. That number will likely continue to rise, which means if your website is not easy to read and navigate on a smartphone, you’re at serious risk of losing donations. According to FrontStream’s 2017 report, almost 50% of donors use their smartphones to access donation forms. This is an easy problem to solve for: Get a responsive website design. It will adjust to look great on any size screen, plus it’ll boost your SEO with Google since their search algorithm favors mobile-friendly websites.
Have you used a current smartphone’s video camera lately? The quality is pretty amazing, which means we’re all running out of excuses for not including videos on our websites. Maybe you’re not sure what to feature, and if that’s the case, let me help you: Showcase a volunteer who’s gone above and beyond; introduce a new staff member; interview a family you’ve helped; or do a quick recap of your latest event or fundraiser. A good rule of thumb: Create an emotional hook. Videos done right pull people in and tug on their heartstrings, which often causes them to loosen their purse strings.
It’s so tempting to try to cram a lot of stuff on a single webpage. Online real estate is valuable! And we have so much to say. But after working with web developers and designers for over 20 years, please hear me when I say this (with the utmost confidence): White space is your friend. It gives your content and images breathing room. It helps create impact. It makes your page easier to view. Minimalist web designs are all about getting more from less, so don’t be afraid to let some content go or create additional pages. Designs that make good use of white space are easier to navigate, offer a better user experience and just create an overall more polished, professional look.
BERT isn’t a person; it’s a thing. BERT is Google’s latest algorithm update, and its focus is to deliver results based on real search intent, considering context and natural language. What this means is that when you optimize your website content for real people (you know, the average person who visits your website looking for information), you optimize for BERT. You basically want your website content to be written in a way that’s natural, relevant and understandable to the average human. Search engines are getting smarter, and SEO is not just about seeing how many keywords you can cram into a paragraph on a page anymore. BERT wants you to concentrate on delivering content that’s understandable and relatable to the most important person: your end user.
We covered video already, but there are other elements you can add to encourage engagement and get your website visitors to interact with you: infographics, quizzes and surveys, polls, user-generated content, comments on your blog. All these things turn a passive reader into an active participant and create a more meaningful user experience. And that turns a visitor into a potential donor, volunteer, board member, constituent, brand ambassador and all those other people that keep our organizations alive and well.
Whether this has lit a fire and got you all excited about making some important changes to your website, or you’re sitting there thinking, “What do I do next?”, I’d love to invite you to a free webinar that’s full of practical tips and valuable insights for website user engagement. Make plans to attend, “How to Captivate and Engage Constituents with Your Website” where you’ll learn more about how to turn your website into a relationship-building, converting machine. Come get an up-close look at what the Firespring Nonprofit Website Builder can offer you and your organization, completely free and without expectation.
At Firespring, we consider the nonprofit space our home, and our mission is to help you accomplish yours with the right online tools and a website that engages your constituents.
Jay Wilkinson is the founder and CEO of Firespring—a Nebraska-based Certified B Corporation. In 2016, Firespring was featured in Inc. Magazine as one of the Top 50 Places to Work in America and has been listed on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies 7 of the last 9 years. As a philanthropist, Jay has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits. He spends the majority of his time helping nonprofit organizations leverage their mission and deepen their impact.
Jay has been among the highest-ranking speakers at conferences all over the United States for two decades and has informed and educated thousands of nonprofit professionals with his empowering messages. His TEDx talk on company culture has more than 1 million views. A graduate of MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program, Jay has appeared on CNN and other national news outlets discussing the important role nonprofits play in the U.S. economy.