Did you know that an average web user spends less than 15 seconds on a web page before they decide to stay or leave?
Nonprofit organizations and their websites are no strangers to this challenge. Getting people to find your website is difficult enough, but getting users and potential supporters to stick around and engage with your offerings is an additional obstacle that is imperative to tackle.
With online fundraising becoming increasingly popular, your website is more important than ever for capturing leads, displaying engaging and relevant mission information, and facilitating gifts, volunteer activities, and fundraising events. In order to do all of that, you need to design your website in a way that increases site visit length.
Whether you’re designing a brand new site or undergoing some much needed nonprofit website maintenance, doing everything you can to improve user experience is the key to success—both in fundraising and supporter engagements. This guide will walk through these website design tips to help you get started:
- Prioritize and update your content layout
- Improve the readability of your pages
- Add engaging graphics or images
- Incorporate interactive or clickable elements
- Optimize your most popular landing pages
- Incorporate internal links
- Show credibility
Ready to increase the site visit length for your nonprofit website? Let’s begin.
1. Prioritize and update your content layout
Your nonprofit website is likely the first place potential supporters will go to learn about your mission, recent accomplishments, and other information regarding your organization or sector. As soon as the prospect lands on your site, and depending on their goal with your organization, they’ll be looking for and expecting specific, up-to-date content.
For instance, let’s say they want to learn more about your mission and what your nonprofit does. They’ll want easy access to your Mission Statement, About Us, Recent Accomplishments, and News pages.
On top of that, they’re going to want the most recent information available. If your last news article is dated in 2005, they’ll likely click away and just assume that your organization isn’t active anymore.
To keep them on your site, you need to not only prioritize the content you display, but ensure it is updated. Look at the above the fold area of your website for both mobile and desktop view. Because this is the first thing users see, that is where your most important content should be displayed. Make sure this is being updated as often as needed.
From there, you also have to keep your website’s design simple with an easy to use navigation system. A good idea is to format your navigation menu so that it is at the top or the side of the page. This is the perfect place to include links to your most popular landing pages, including your online donation page, event calendar, and more.
Another way to funnel users towards those pages is with prominent button or link calls to action (CTA). Taking insight from Kanopi’s article on content strategy, CTAs are tried and true methods of funnelling users towards their target action in a seamless way.
2. Improve the readability of your pages
There are always those few outdated websites where the text is too small, the color contrast is not high enough, or the background image is too busy, compromising the readability of the page.
Your website should be readable for everyone, no matter the device type or even their ability. Here are some general tips to follow:
- Make sure the font is large enough for easy reading on your laptop or mobile device. However, don’t make the font so large that you force the user to unnecessarily scroll through the page.
- Break up large paragraphs into easy to read sections. Use bulleted lists and other formats with ample white space.
- Ensure that background color and font-color are contrasted enough, with at least a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
- Have a team dedicated to spell checking and grammar review.
The above not only ensures that this is readable, but can also help when screen reader devices read the text out loud for those with visual impairments, improving your website’s accessibility. The better the words flow, the easier it is for those listening to understand and engage with the content.
3. Add engaging graphics or images
A large chunk of text is always intimidating. That’s why so many people simply skip the terms and conditions, hitting submit without even taking a closer look at the fine print. You do not want your own nonprofit website to fall into this trap. If a visitor clicks on your homepage and simply sees lines and lines of sentences, it is not the most engaging form of user experience.
A great way to break up text is to add engaging graphics or images. Humans love looking at images, especially more than reading text.
Before adding any images to your site, make sure to optimize them. High quality images will have a larger file size, which can also slow down your site speed. It’s worth it to compress them so that they don’t slow down your page load speed.
On this same thought, that is also why having too many images can actually be detrimental. Having a healthy balance between text and graphics is key.
4. Incorporate interactive or clickable elements
One key method of increasing site visit length as well as conversions for your nonprofit website is to incorporate interactive or clickable elements.
For one thing, interactive elements capture the user’s attention and encourage them to stay on your site. This increases their usage of your site which can even lead to data that helps personalize and optimize your website.
On the other hand, engaging and clickable content is just more fun. Users will remember your site and nonprofit mission better with this enjoyable experience as a core memory.
Incorporating interactive or clickable elements can be as simple as a slideshow of images that users can click through, or be a more engaging experience like a mini game or quiz.
5. Optimize your most popular landing pages
For most websites, your homepage will be the most popular landing page and receive the most site visits. However, nonprofit organizations are unique in that there are a couple of other core landing pages that will be frequently visited and sought after by current and prospective supporters.
For instance, you should be improving the quality and value of these pages:
- Online donation page — iATS Payments, a top payment processing tool dedicated to nonprofits, recommends leveraging the top of your online donation page, investing in a secure donation and payment tool, embedding your online donation form, optimizing the page for all devices, as well as other insightful tips.
- Event calendar or registration page — Ensure that supporters can click through different events to see which appeal to then, find out all essential information within that page, and even sign up for the event they want.
- Volunteer opportunity page — If you offer volunteer opportunities, it’s a good idea to provide search and filter options so that users can easily find the opportunities that match up with their skills and interests.
Optimizing your most popular landing pages ensures that users are having the best experience and can lead to more conversions depending on what the page’s purpose is.
6. Incorporate internal links
An easy way to keep people on your site is to simply incorporate more internal links. This means linking to appropriate landing pages to leverage key conversion opportunities as well as linking to blog posts or other news articles throughout the site.
You should make it a habit to ensure that each article and page on your site has plenty of internal links. This is in fact the best way to get people to visit those pages and can help reduce your bounce rate, which is the rate of how often people enter your site and then leave without exploring further.
Incorporating internal links can also improve your site’s SEO (or search engine optimization), but only if you’re linking to valuable content. Putting internal links just for the sake of it won’t do much, but with some careful thought and consideration, it can not only encourage visitors to continue engaging with you, but also bring up the overall value of the website.
7. Show credibility
As soon as someone lands on your site, they’ll likely be looking for reasons to trust or not trust it. Websites with less content or an outdated design is enough to turn your most passionate supporters away. No one wants to risk their data being hacked.
With this in mind, showing credibility is a basic method of establishing that trust with supporters. For instance, adding photos of real people who have been impacted by your organization can make your site appear more trustworthy.
Here are some other quick ways to show credibility:
- Linking to social profiles
- Adding trust markers like BBB ratings, awards, certifications, and more
- Include bios and pictures for your staff members
If you want to increase your online presence and digital fundraising, establishing trust with your supporters is key. One data breach or online hack can damage your reputation for years. To ensure that their website is up to standards, many nonprofit leaders will even turn to tech consultants for help.
Your website is the online face and virtual office front for your nonprofit and mission. Doing everything you can to keep users engaging with it is essential if you want to increase your online fundraising and further develop those important relationships. Use the above tips to ensure your website is as prepared as it can be for the new year. Good luck!
AUTHOR: ANNE STEFANYK
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 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, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.