As a nonprofit marketing professional, you know the importance of growing your audience and connecting with as many supporters as possible. Volunteers, donors, and advocates are the individuals who drive your mission forward and provide it with critical support, whether monetary or otherwise.
Therefore, your nonprofit’s website should be designed so that anyone can access and browse it with ease. This allows prospective and current supporters to learn more about your organization and its mission and get involved in different initiatives such as fundraising or volunteering.
So, how can you achieve this goal and acquire new support using your website? By optimizing your user experience (UX)!
Your organization is supporter-focused in all other aspects of your marketing and fundraising strategy, and your website shouldn’t be any different. By improving your site’s UX, you can create a more satisfying, enjoyable experience for users, which can lead to greater supporter engagement. Let’s get started!
User experience is the way that individuals interact with your website. It captures every action they take, from the moment supporters click on your website link to when they exit the site.
You can assess your website’s current UX status by reviewing website analytics, including your website’s bounce rate. The bounce rate of your site is the number of users who click on your website and immediately leave rather than clicking on other pages.
If you’re seeing a high bounce rate, it might indicate that your site isn’t doing much to intrigue or captivate users after they click on it. Luckily, you can boost your UX by implementing a few best practices.
You may be able to implement these tips even if your organization doesn’t have a website expert on staff. However, partnering with a professional website design firm can give your organization access to professional advice and guidance. This might be the right investment if your website requires a major overhaul or includes a large quantity of data to sift through.
The donor journey is the process your prospective donors take from when they first discover your organization to when they eventually decide to donate and become long-term supporters of your mission. The steps of the donor journey include:
- Awareness: Audience members become aware of your organization through your website, social media, word-of-mouth advertising, printed materials, or other sources.
- Research: Individuals learn more about your nonprofit and start deciding if and how they’ll support your cause. They typically conduct this investigation using digital resources like your website.
- Decision: Prospects decide whether or not to take a certain action, such as donating, signing up for your newsletter, or registering for a volunteer opportunity.
- Appreciation: Your organization shows its gratitude for the supporters’ involvement.
- Repeat: The supporter journey doesn’t end with one gift or volunteer opportunity. Your organization should dedicate ongoing stewardship efforts to ensure long-term support.
Your nonprofit’s website can play a role in optimizing every step of the supporter journey. For instance, consider how you can design your site so that someone who’s just heard about you for the first time can quickly find the information they need to understand your history and mission. Or, figure out how you can offer convenient, easy donation opportunities for supporters who’ve decided to take the leap in the decision phase and contribute funds.
Ultimately, you should design your website based on your supporters’ points of view. This will ensure the site is poised to facilitate audience members through the supporter journey quickly and efficiently. Keep this in mind as we explore the remaining best practices.
Research has shown that 40% of people will leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load. The longer your website takes to load, the more quickly visitors will abandon your site, contributing to a high bounce rate.
To reduce your website’s load time, you should:
- Compress any large images.
- Enable browser caching so users won’t have to wait for the entire webpage to reload upon each visit.
This is a step where the assistance of a web development professional may come in handy, depending on your organization’s level of expertise. Reducing your website’s load time is an easy, straightforward way to encourage visitors to stay on your site for longer.
Internet users are constantly on the move and want to receive information as quickly and efficiently as possible. They don’t have the patience to wade through massive amounts of text on your website to find the information they need.
Sometimes, it’s more effective to show your visitors what they need to know, rather than telling them. Compelling images and infographics can provide this need for instant information by showing your mission in action.
For instance, if your organization is dedicated to saving endangered dolphin populations, you likely have a mission page on your website that describes why your organization exists and what you do to support endangered dolphins. You can make this mission more real to website visitors by including photos of the dolphins themselves and volunteers cleaning up waterways.
You can also create infographics that break your mission and history down into a series of statistics or informational snippets that give prospective supporters the background they need without having to read a lengthy post on the subject.
These visual elements can spark an emotional or intellectual connection in prospects, which can lead to them deciding to get further involved.
According to Double the Donation’s nonprofit statistics page, half of all nonprofit website traffic last year came from mobile and tablet users. The share of desktop-based traffic actually decreased by 9% compared to the previous year.
This means that designing your nonprofit’s website to be mobile-friendly is more important than ever. This post recommends a few strategies to make your website shine on mobile, including:
- Reduce cluttersuch as overly detailed descriptions or irrelevant explanations.
- Replace some text with photos where possible.
- Make your donation button stick out by making it large and using a bright, eye-catching color.
Assess each page of your website in the mobile view to ensure there aren’t any formatting issues.
Website accessibility means that your website is easily navigable for all users, no matter their disability. As a nonprofit, your website should align with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to ensure your organization is inclusive and accepting of all people.
Accessibility guidelines include requirements such as:
- Ensuring your website can be navigated using a keyboard.
- Ensuring a strong contrast between your background and foreground colors so all text is easily readable.
- Including alternative text for images and scripts for videos.
- Organizing your text structure so it can easily be read by screen readers.
Enhancing the accessibility of your website improves the user experience for all users. Accessible sites are clean, organized, and efficiently designed, meaning all users can peruse your content without facing any formatting or readability issues.
As visitors read your website’s about page, blog, and impact statements, they move closer to the decision phase where they’re contemplating whether or not to donate to your mission. It’s your organization’s job to make it as easy as possible for supporters to give as soon as the inspiration or motivation strikes.
Facilitate convenient, easy giving opportunities by placing strategic calls to action throughout your website. Website design strategists recommend placing your donation buttons in a prominent location, such as within your website’s top navigation bar. This ensures users will be able to see the button no matter where they are on your website.
Also, include a link to your online donation form at the end of your blog posts or impact reports. This reminds visitors that they can play a direct role in your organization’s ability to help the community or cause.
Even if visitors click on your online donation page, that doesn’t mean you’ve automatically secured their donation. Your online giving page should be streamlined and well-designed to serve as an effective fundraising tool that drives donations for your cause.
There are plenty of ways to make your donation form more user-friendly, including:
- Cutting any unnecessary form fields to make the giving process faster.
- Offering suggested giving amounts so supporters don’t have to spend time debating how much they should contribute.
- Accepting multiple payment methods so donors can choose the method they prefer.
Remember that some supporters haven’t completely made their minds up about donating when they reach your online giving page. Include a brief explanation of why your organization conducts fundraising and what the gifts are used for to help persuade any visitors who are still on the fence.
Frequently review your website analytics to determine the most successful elements and those that could be improved. For instance, explore Google Analytics to determine metrics such as your bounce rate, session duration (how long each user stays on your site), average time on page, page views, and more. These stats can help you determine your most and least popular web pages.
Then, conduct A/B testing to enhance your website pages. A/B testing involves creating two slightly different versions of the same web page and determining which is more effective for engaging users or driving conversions.
You might use A/B testing to assess the effectiveness of your website’s donate buttons or online giving page.
You can also use your online giving form to track donor data through your website. You can keep track of popular donation amounts, your most active donors, or popular donation days of the week.
Implementing these UX design changes can yield multiple benefits to your organization. You can increase your supporter satisfaction with your website while driving more users to complete donations. Plus, you can boost interaction with your non-donation opportunities, such as volunteer experiences or events.
We recommend taking a continuous improvement approach to your website’s user experience. Kanopi’s website maintenance guide defines continuous improvement as “making small improvements to your site on a consistent schedule.” This strategy ensures that you won’t be forced to complete a major website overhaul every few years when the state of your website becomes inadequate.
Remember to keep the supporter journey front and center while designing your website. These individuals are critical for your organization’s success, and by prioritizing their experience, you can secure long-term support for your cause. Good luck!
As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions. Anne fell into the Drupal community in 2007 and admired both the community’s people and the constant quest for knowledge. After holding Director-level positions at large Drupal agencies, she decided she was ready to open Kanopi Studios in 2013. Her background is in business development, marketing, and technology, which allows her to successfully manage all facets of the business as well as provide the technical understanding to allow her to interface with engineers. She has accumulated years of professional Drupal hands-on experience, from basic websites to large Drupal applications with high-performance demands, multiple integrations, complicated migrations, and e-commerce including subscription and multi-tenancy. Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annestefanyk/