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Oh man.

Have you ever tried to redesign your nonprofit website? Was that fun? No? Why not?

Is it because you were trying to skimp on people who knew what they were doing, and decided to DIY? Is it because you trusted people who said they knew what they were doing, and then they didn’t really know? What did you learn from that experience? Did you learn to ask people, “How do you know what you know?” Did you learn that actually, you can’t teach yourself how to create a WordPress Theme from scratch?

Here’s a quick checklist of things you need to get clear on before you redesign your nonprofit website, straight from the book, “Don’t Make Me Think” by Paul Krug.

  • What is the goal of the site? What do you want to happen?
  • Does this website make us look attractive to donors, funders and the community?
  • How many people on your team have to be involved? At what level?
  • What are some successful websites we could look at in terms of fundraising?
  • Are we telling a story which will help us achieve our fundraising goals?
  • Are we hoping people will watch or learn or donate?
  • Are we making it easy to spread the word using various social media tools?
  • Can people use us as a community resource?
  • Are we making it easy to leave contact information, and track visitors and potential donors on our website?
  • When people come to our site, are they trying to answer a specific question?
  • How many places link to us, and how can we increase that?
  • Who needs to update this site? How often?
  • How often can we afford to overhaul this site?
  • Does showing up in search engines matter? If so, for what terms? At what cost? Will we be willing to compromise any of the things above in order to achieve this goal?
  • Will the site need to be universally accessible? Do issues of disability or language or browser come into it?
  • How much money do we have to spend? How much time?

So once you answer these questions, you are ready to start redesigning your site.

Remember!

Focus above the fold
This means don’t put useful information where people have to scroll down for it. Put your navigation links, pictures, stats and donation button at the top of the page.

Don’t assume you know how the donor is going to look at the website
Test the website with different people, like your mom, or the receptionist, or anyone you find wandering around. What are the “hotspots”? Left hand side? Right hand side?

Make your tagline clearly state what your nonprofit does
The last thing you want is someone getting confused on what you do.

Clear Call to Action
Make your call to action something concrete. Not “Save the Earth,” but “Can you commit to recycling all waste paper at work and home this week?” Not, “Stop Domestic Violence” but “Can you donate $100 to our rural education program, to help educate one child about self-esteem and healthy relationships?”

Put your donate button in your navigation bar
In fact, put a way to donate into two or three places in your website. It has to be simple to give.

Build transparency into your website design
This means you need to show why you need the money and where the money goes as quickly as you can once the user comes to your website. Kiva does this exceptionally well.

Anything you’d like to add to this list? Leave a comment please!