Nonprofit Marketing and Website Trends to Watch

website trends

Are you ready for a new year of nonprofit web design and digital marketing? The Wired Impact team keeps a close eye on website trends and emerging technologies, which helps us collaborate with a wide range of nonprofits looking to share their missions in creative ways.

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If you’re wondering where the path may lead this year, check out the marketing and website trends that our design, programming, project management and content experts expect to see in the coming year.

Our Team

Jonathan GoldfordJonathan Goldford

David HartsteinDavid Hartstein

Alex McQuearyAlex McQueary

Allyson LoughAllyson Lough

Casey NixCasey Nix

Christine SoucyChristine Soucy

Dan WaldschmidtDan Waldschmidt

alexa cromwellAlexa Cromwell

Katy TesonKaty Teson

Website Trends: Design

Transitioning to Responsive Designs

“I think nonprofits (and for-profit businesses) are going to continue to migrate to responsive design. It’s practical, makes it easy for users to experience and interact with a site on any device, and is much more practical than building two separate websites: one for desktop and one for mobile.” Alex McQueary, Web Designer

Creating Resource Hubs for Usability

“The wealth of knowledge found on the internet plus faster and faster internet speeds have spoiled people to the point that they want immediate, easy-to-find content. Nonprofits will trend toward building sites that feature strong calls-to action and direct visitors to the exact information they are looking for. And as content marketing continues to grow in popularity, I think we’ll see more libraries where a user can go to one centralized location to find the information they seek. The easier the site is on the user, the more likely they are to stick around.”Dan Waldschmidt, Web Developer

Getting Bold With Brighter Colors

“I predict that nonprofits will take Pantone’s lead and start introducing brighter colors into their websites. Pantone just named ‘greenery’ as color of the year after a couple of years of colors on the more neutral end of the spectrum, which could motivate brands to be a bit more bold with color usage this coming year.” Alex McQueary, Web Designer

Website Trends: Technology & Security

Creating a More Secure Web

“Google said a few years ago that it would give a search engine ranking boost to sites that are entirely secure (by using an SSL so all addresses load via “https://” instead of “http://” and communicate via only encrypted content). But SSL certificates and completely secure websites are still the exception. They’re expensive for many smaller organizations and are very complex to configure. This is all about to change. With the launch of Let’s Encrypt and other similar services, SSL certificates are becoming free and, in response, web hosting providers are making them very easy to add and install on your site. This means a more secure web, better rankings for those nonprofits who take the time to set it up, and hopefully more confident users who feel even more comfortable sharing their personal information or making a donation on your website.” Jonathan Goldford, Web Programmer & Partner

Finding Flexibility on WordPress

“Nonprofits will continue to move away from proprietary content management systems in search of open-source solutions that are pretty simple to manage. For both highly custom and more template-based sites, WordPress offers a lot of flexibility, helping organizations grow and improve the functionality of their websites over time. Likewise, I think we’ll keep seeing the development of quality WordPress plugins that offer crucial integrations with donor databases and email marketing systems, making WordPress an easy choice.” Casey Nix, Web Developer

Investing in the Internet of Things

“Everywhere you look, the internet is taking over our stuff. You can buy a car with WiFi built-in, a thermostat that knows when you’re at home or away, a watch that shows you texts and a fridge that will send you a picture of the inside while you’re at the grocery store so you know what to buy. The internet of things is not a fad, and a big question remains for nonprofits: how can you capitalize on this movement without wasting what precious resources you have? While there are tons of ideas out there, nonprofits will have to think critically about what will provide the greatest return on their investment.” Jonathan Goldford, Web Programmer & Partner

Nonprofit Marketing

Continued Prominence of Inbound Marketing

“More nonprofits will adopt an inbound marketing approach in 2017 as they seek to attract potential supporters long before they’re ready to make a donation or sign up to volunteer. We’ll see organizations provide helpful content and make it easy to find so that visitors can uncover it in the moment they’re actually seeking it. Over time, these visitors will become more invested in the cause and hopefully become more active. To support this trend, I expect to see a growth in helpful blogging (as opposed to purely self-promotional). The Humane Society is a great example to watch. I also expect to see an increased emphasis on relationship building through social media and email.” David Hartstein, Content Strategist & Partner

Increasing Variety of Visual Content

“While this has been the case for a few years now, nonprofits are taking baby steps into the methods that have been successful for marketers in consumer businesses. I see nonprofits pushing this further in 2017 as content marketing trends more and more visual. And people seem to be really running with this. Bloggers and social media gurus are using more videos, graphics, infographics, gifs and photos in posts — to great success. I don’t see this toning down anytime soon.” Christine Soucy, Content Strategist & Writer

Using Interactive Content to Engage

“Getting people to take the next step to engage on a deeper level with your brand requires thinking really creatively about how you share your story. A lot of the more interactive options used to seem out of reach for small organizations or organizations with limited budgets, but tools that make this content easy and affordable are on the rise. And making content interactive isn’t limited to things like mini quizzes and highly produced videos. It can be a simple as giving people the option to rate content based on whether or not they found it helpful. The timeline in Kiva’s Annual Report is one of my favorite examples because it’s purpose-driven and puts visitors’ needs first.” Alexa Cromwell, Project Manager

More Data-Driven Campaigns

“Nonprofits looking to track the return-on-investment of their marketing work will increasingly turn to the power of Google Analytics, Facebook insights and their own databases to mine for data. Steve MacLaughlin’s Data-Driven Nonprofits book is cultivating a culture of measurement, and I expect to see a greater interest in how to report on and analyze marketing projects in the next year, especially for multi-channel campaigns that span websites, social media and email.” Katy Teson, Content Strategist & Writer

Growing Web Traffic With Long Tail Keywords

“Since search engine optimization has become fairly mainstream at this point, it’s become more difficult to rank for the more general phrases. By going after hyper-specific long tail keywords (those longer keyword phrases that really drill down and specify the exact topic), nonprofit websites have a much higher probability of ranking in search engines, as the competition is less fierce. It’s the difference between going after ‘donate’ and targeting ‘supporting cancer research for stage iv patients.’” Christine Soucy, Content Strategist & Writer

Social Media

Exploring New Opportunities With Snapchat

“If done right, Snapchat could be a huge opportunity to connect with a young audience and carries the ability to donate directly through the app. Not many nonprofits are in here (DoSomething.org, PETA, Greenpeace and Team Rubicon are some good examples), so there’s lots of opportunity to get in early-ish and establish an audience of new young supporters. I have a feeling that if your nonprofit waits until 2018 to learn Snapchat, you’ll only be playing catch-up.” Christine Soucy, Content Strategist & Writer

Using Live Video to Cultivate Supporters

“From Facebook Live to Google Hangouts, it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever before to engage with people in real-time. You can even collect donations while it’s happening! I expect to see nonprofits using live video streams to share their events or big news, take people on virtual tours, and interact volunteers, partners and program participants to help make their missions come alive. For a recent example, check out how the US Fish & Wildlife Service took people to their front lines.” Katy Teson, Content Strategist & Writer

Project Management

Increasing Use of Team Collaboration Tools

“Nonprofits will continue to see the need to transition to collaborative tools that encourage idea sharing and open communication. No one uses personal email effectively anymore. There are multiple versions of files floating around. It’s almost guaranteed that something will get missed. I think we’ll see more and more nonprofits giving their teams (who are increasingly spread across the country) the tools to stay on top of projects and internally manage themselves. It’s shocking how many nonprofits are still not using Google Drive, Docs, Hangouts or Calendars even though it’s free! Services like Asana, Basecamp and Wrike are also easy, intuitive and typically free or low cost for small teams to ‘work smarter, not harder.’” Allyson Lough, Project Manager

From designing with bright colors and testing Snapchat to building more secure sites, there are many exciting website trends and tools for nonprofits to watch and try this year.

What do you think is going to be big in nonprofit website design and digital communications in the year to come? Tell us about the marketing and website trends you’re seeing in the comments below.