Clearer Content is THE Priority for Nonprofit Website Success: Part One

There’s nothing more important than ensuring your website —  your organization’s homebase online — is easy-to-use (a.k.a. usability). More specifically, your site has to be easy for your target audiences (not users in general, but the folks you need to engage to move your mission forward) to use to facilitate the type of actions/interactions you want – online giving, contacting your organization for more information, registering for a program or signing a petition.

Website usability expert Jakob Nielsen recently studied the usability of 23 nonprofit websites and his findings pave the way to improving the impact of your website. It’s doable, so read on to learn how:

  • It’s harder to figure out how to donate online than it is to spend online — online giving took users 7% more time than a typical online purchase.
  • It’s even harder to volunteer your time, or to give away things you don’t want any more. These processes aren’t comparable to standard processes your users go through online (vs. giving online , which is very similar to buying online).
  • The key to motivating site users to give online, or to pursue donating items or volunteering, is clear, compelling content on your nonprofit’s “unique value proposition” (a.k.a. impact) and how gifts are put to work. That’s a must for motivating users to give or volunteer with your organization. Unfortunately, such content is rarely found on nonprofit websites.

My follow up post next week will detail my recommendations for increasing the clarity of your content to boost your website’s impact. Keep posted!

What is your process for developing clear and compelling content that showcases the unique value of your organization’s work? Do you feature such content on your site, or does your site content need improvement? Please share your strategies for strengthening your website (and other) content here.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the Getting Attention Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz on August 3, 2011 in High-Impact Websites | 5 comments
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  • Even though we have many different programs, I try to keep the website simple by only using 6 main headers across the top of our page and take advantage of drop-down and pop-out menus. The headers are easiest to see so that is where the program, contact and donation info is featured.

  • Rachel Baker

    Huge fan of Jakob Nielsen, glad you are sharing his wisdom with your audience.

  • In my meetings with Synagogues and Jewish Organizations to introduce and present the opportunity to have a free link to facilitate Memorial Donations, I have come to learn that so many need to add or improve their online donation portals. A “user friendly”  system, with minimal expense to the charity,  will accomodate the quick and convenient way people prefer to give and result in increased donations.

  • Judy Anderson

    Do you have suggestions of good online giving portals/platforms? Yes, I know of Network for Good–but I am looking for something that can be a bit more customized, if possible, to bring inspiration “right to the close”.

    In addition, for small (small, as in 1-3 staff), they are finding it hard to justify 5% of the transaction and $50/month as they start up an online giving program. Do you have suggestions for solid online giving platforms that would provide for a greater phased payment (1deally, $10/month until donations reach “x”), so that people can get their “feet wet” and figure this out??)

  • It might be difficult to get low cost and customization, but you may want to contact companies like paypal, google, convio & blackbaud to learn about their non- profit programs.  

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