Making your case for a new website can mean having some difficult discussions, especially when the person controlling the budget doesn’t understand that there’s a problem that needs fixing. To get the ball rolling with a skeptical executive director, we’ve put together a list of website redesign questions that can help guide your initial conversation.
Selling Your Vision
It’s tough to drum up support for marketing projects when you’re the only one wearing the communications hat at your nonprofit. Maybe you walk away from conversations like this?
Even when you know in your gut that your organization needs a new website, others might not see the cost of your old one (including wasted time and energy trying to fix it) versus the efficiency of starting over.
So rather than tell everyone how much it stinks, now’s the time to explain the reasons to redesign your website in ways that build broad support.
Be a Cheerleader for Solutions
When it comes to pitching an executive director, it’s important to understand their values and priorities for the organization as a whole. You can then make your case for a new website by highlighting the parts of the current website that are holding you back and the things that could be possible with a new site, focusing in on your organization’s specific goals.
For example, simplifying the online donation experience could encourage more repeat gifts from donors that typically only give once a year. Offering online shift signups to your volunteers might reduce turnover rates, freeing up your volunteer manager (and part of the training budget) for other projects.
By presenting problems, a solution and an idea of what success looks like, you can lay important groundwork from the start, slowly turning a skeptic into a cheerleader. Afterall, it’s pretty fun to think about the possibilities of a new site: reaching more people, inspiring supporters to take action, saving time and money, and managing less bits and pieces.
5 Website Redesign Questions to Ask
When you’re ready to sit down and talk about a new site with an unconvinced boss, colleague or board member, use these five website redesign questions to guide your conversation. Framing your discussion with questions (rather than a laundry list of reasons) opens the door for dialogue rather than debating each of your points.
And remember: don’t forget to come prepared with some specific ways a new site will help the organization. To get started, I’ve included some ideas of what’s possible when your website works harder for your cause.
Is Our Website Hard to Read and Frustrating to Navigate?
The way your website looks, how pages are organized, and how it shows up on different devices and various browsers are all things that are important to users. Without a responsive design, your website won’t automatically show up in a user-friendly way on phones and tablets. Using outdated technology to display text, images or videos could mean that some people don’t see your content at all. And failing to organize your site in a way that’s easy for users to search and navigate intuitively can lead to frustrated visitors that leave before completing the action they wanted to take or finding the information that would help them.
What’s possible with an accessible and intuitive website:
- Less phone and email inquiries from confused visitors
- Better educated constituents and community members
- More visitors staying on your site longer and returning again
- Increased conversion rates for actions on your site, like signing petitions
Is Our Website Easy to Update and Keep Relevant For Our Audience?
Having control over your website’s content is a crucial part of maintaining an online presence that’s accurate and engaging. If you have to call someone to update your homepage, need to Google how to write HTML code every time you get into your site, or you secretly hope an intern has some website skills, you’re probably wasting time, money and energy. When it’s hard to add and change content and your site becomes stale, your visitors will stop looking to you to be their go-to resource.
What’s possible with an easy-to-manage website:
- Staff spend less time figuring out how to do things
- Reduce the budget needed for hiring outside help
- Make immediate changes and announcements for events and programs
- Add stories that support your fundraising efforts
Does Our Website Integrate with Our Nonprofit’s Other Systems?
Popular website platforms like WordPress usually offer the ability to integrate with other programs and services you already use at your nonprofit. But when your site is outdated, no longer secure, or built on a platform with little flexibility, you might not be able to automatically connect with your payment processor, donor database or email marketing service. This likely requires additional administrative work to move information around from place to place—also leaving room for error in each of your accounts.
What’s possible with a well-integrated website:
- Quicker and more automated donation processing and follow-up
- Easier to build your email list and send messages to accurate lists
- Fewer inaccuracies or duplicates among donor records in your database
- Online forms that collect supporter details and update their information in other places
Are We Investing in Website Workarounds Rather Than Solutions?
If, like in the question above, you’re struggling with integrations and adding new features to your website, there’s a good chance that you and other staff have been compensating with less than optimal workarounds. For example, do you have other websites for events, fundraisers, volunteer sign ups or a blog because your current site doesn’t have the right functionality or style? When this is the case, you’re investing in temporary tools and tactics that don’t serve your brand or your users in the long run.
What’s possible with a website that includes the features you need:
- Fewer online accounts to manage, update and keep track of
- Focus your energy on updating and adding content to the main site, which is good for search engine optimization and is more centralized for your users
- Sync information collected from your event, fundraising and volunteer pages with your internal systems or database with fewer steps
- Drive more traffic to your website, where people can take action and next steps
Could Our Website Be Hurting Our Nonprofit’s Reputation?
Your evidence here might be more anecdotal, but it can be an important point to make when talking to the top leadership of your organization. When a website doesn’t look very polished, doesn’t function in the ways you’d expect, or doesn’t seem trustworthy or secure, visitors might question your nonprofit’s legitimacy. Unless you invest in your website, you could be leaving donor dollars on the table, missing out on media opportunities, and losing volunteers who are more comfortable supporting an organization that seems well-established.
What’s possible with a professional-looking website:
- Increase the number of online donations, including recurring or repeat gifts
- Recruit more qualified board members and job candidates
- Collect email signups from people that trust you with their information
- Get more links and referrals from people and groups who are comfortable endorsing you
Download Our Free Worksheet
If you need help putting your thoughts together, make a copy of our Google doc to answer each of these questions and brainstorm what’s possible when you create a new website. Writing down the reasons why you need a new website is a great way to consolidate your thoughts before talking to others.
Are You Ready?
Having the first conversation is often the hardest. Our website redesign questions can get you started on the right foot. By talking about problems as well as possibilities, you can reduce the fear that comes with spending money and time on something new. In the end, would a new website be any riskier than the one you’ve got now?
If you’ve convinced a skeptic of the need to invest in your website, what was the most successful part of your pitch? Or, if you’re struggling to start a conversation about your current website, what’s holding you back? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.