User Experience – that is a term well used in the web design and development industry, but one not many animal charities think much about. Because animal charities have limited funds to start with – the last thing they can do is worry about the website structure and layout as most groups find the costs prohibitive. Websites are an investment every business should have – it should be well designed, well coded and most of all be able to convert visitors into buyers – it is really not much different for animal charities.
The only difference is the goal of an animal group as opposed to a business is to get people to donate – you have to find a way to not only reach out to their emotions, but to make it easy for them to donate.
So what makes a great non profit website?
1) Easy To Find Donate Button
This should be prominent! It is amazing how many sites who are looking for donations do not make it obvious – or easy to find how to donate. Your donation page should be linked from the home page – the header is the most common place, but it is also OK to make a touching graphic button as well to use in the main body area. The image above shows a Donate Now button on a home page of a rescue website – surrounded by images of cute pups!
2) Make The Donation Process Easy
Do not force users to login or create accounts to donate. Every step you make a visitor jump through is reducing your opportunity to get much needed funds. You do not need their name or address or phone – or even email. Treat your mailing list differently, do not force them to be a part of your email on your donation page! Just have a donate button – that should link to Paypal or your merchant account. That is it. Nothing else!
some great Donation Page layouts to inspire you!
3) Media Access
You want your website and group to get press – the more your grouped is talked about not only locally but online, the better. So, why not make it easy? Create a media page that allows journalists, bloggers and other PR people to access your information easily. Have a list of your key personnel and their contact information, have great imagery readily available for them so they do not have to contact you, include quotes and significant articles that they can use to do a story about you. The more information you provide that they can use on short notice – the better the chance of being profiled!
The Animal Rescue League of Boston is a fantastic example of a well laid out press page with all the right elements!
4) Responsive Is A Must
With so many visitors looking at your website from their mobile phones and tablets – the ability for your website to adapt to these different sizes is critical! Make sure when your site is ready to go live that it is able to be viewed in an easy manner on all modern day technologies including the iPad, Androids, Apple products and more. If your site is not easy to navigate or your donation link is not easy to find – you can lose new supporters and donations.
A website that underwent a redesign in 2012 that proved the user experience matters is the Norwegian Cancer Society. They took the time to really consider their user and created a website that was incredibly user friendly and focused on their mission and purpose. The NCS delayed their redesign for years, because like many other charities, they felt that their current website brought in so few donations that there was not point in investing their money into a new website.
The group also used a digital fundraising consultant to help them with their redesign. The results? it increased membership by 150% and doubled their one-off online donations and quadrupled the annual value of their regular donors. Not too bad right?
But We Do Not Have The Budget For A Professional Web Design!
We get it! You are running tight as it is – and there is just nothing left over to create a new professional website. There are options.
1) Use a template – go to a website like ThemeForest.net. The provided link will take you to some great WordPress themes that are just for non profits. This is a great way to get an affordable website that looks great with a low cost. If you need help with installation, setup and hosting – contact NJ Web Design Agency – 2 Dogs Design to inquire about affordable options for setup.
2) Visit sites like Grassroots.org to see what is offered to non-profits in terms of website design and development. They sometimes have offers for free or low cost services to market and build your web design.
3) Use platforms like Wix.com for a more do it yourself platform. This is a last resort as we do find it to be limited in what can be done but it is a great starter for those that have no sort of financial ability to create something just a bit more complex.