Defining Website Success Before You Start Building

Defining Nonprofit Website Success

We’re very excited to have published our first article with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN).  If you don’t know NTEN, check them out.  They have a lot of excellent resources for nonprofits.

Our post, Defining Website Success Before You Start Building, focuses on helping you figure out if your website is actually helping your nonprofit.  By figuring out what “website success” means for your organization, you’ll be able to make better decisions about the way you build your site and measure the impact it’s having on your nonprofit.

Below is the first part of the post.  Hope you enjoy it.

Defining Website Success Before You Start Building

People get excited about websites. It’s common at the outset of a website project for folks to want to rush right into discussing design and functionality.

But before diving headfirst into the look and feel of your new site, you need to spend a bit of time thinking about measuring “success.” Specifically, how will you know if your new website is actually helping your organization do more of that good stuff you do? After all, that’s really the whole point of the website, isn’t it?

Below is a plan to develop such a data-driven mindset. These suggestions are tool agnostic and begin before you start measuring a single thing.

1. It All Starts With Organizational Goals

Before thinking about content, structure or design, you need to give some thought to your goals. Why do you want a new website? What’s the point?

Your answers should be tied to your goals as an organization. I’d guess you’ve already outlined goals for the near future dealing with various aspects of your nonprofit’s operation. Develop website goals to further these organizational goals.

And get concrete. The more tangible outcomes you can identify, the stronger foundation you’ll lay. Are you looking to boost online donations by 20% in the next quarter? Or register 250 new volunteers through your site in the coming year?

Starting with concrete organizational goals will help you avoid measuring website metrics that don’t matter. More search traffic or increased average time on your website don’t matter if they aren’t ultimately helping your nonprofit somehow do more good in the world.

Whatever your desired outcomes, list them out and take them to heart. Sleep with them under your pillow if you’d like. They’ll inform many of the decisions you make about your website.

2. Identify Website Events That Correspond to Website Goals

You’ve got a strong list of concrete website goals. Now it’s time to start thinking about measurement.

Identify the specific website events that will signify your goals have been completed. Maybe it’s landing on your “Thanks for Donating” page after completing the donation process. Or arriving at a confirmation page after signing up to volunteer.

Whatever it is, these events should inform the design and development process of your website. Identifying these events can help you decide what content to create. It can help you figure out how to design individual pages. It can help you figure out what to prioritize site wide as well as on a specific page.

Read the Whole Post

If you want to check out the final three tips, you can read the whole post on NTEN.

Related Reads

Website Goals: Why They Matter and How to Set Helpful Ones

Website Data Most Nonprofits Should Be Tracking

Image courtesy of Scott D Welch, Flickr