Redesigning your organization’s website can be a huge undertaking. One or more designers, developers and even copywriters might be involved, not to mention your board and co-workers. With so many people involved, it’s important to clearly put into words how you’d like the website to look and feel both within your nonprofit, and to the web design company. A little bit of thought and preparation can help you readily decide on a visual direction for your website.
Here is a list of some questions to ask yourself before jumping into design to help articulate an ideal look and feel for your new home on the web.
Who are the target users for your new website?
Knowing your audience is the key to an effective website. List each type of user that would potentially be interested in coming to your website.
What are the main calls to action for each target user type?
Chances are, you’ll have specific calls to action for each type of target user. A person visiting for your site for the very first time might benefit from a “Learn More” call to action to further educate themselves on your cause before they’re comfortable donating. Someone already familiar with your organization, however, would probably be looking for a prominent “Donate” or “Get Involved” call to action.
What do you want someone to learn within 5 seconds of landing on your site?
What is the big picture? What is the bread and butter of your organization; the one thing that people should take away from your website?
While there are undoubtedly many important things your organization does, it’s important to pin-point the one thing that visitors should take away with them after landing on your homepage. From there, it’ll be easier to figure out what to prioritize.
How would you like your site to feel?
No, I don’t mean in a tactile way. I mean in an aesthetic way. For example, a site for an elementary school would likely feel joyful and playful, whereas a lawyer’s website would probably be on the formal and prestigious end of the spectrum.
What emotions would you like users to have while visiting your site?
Emotions certainly come into play when visiting a website, especially when referring to a nonprofit’s site. An important goal of your site is likely to raise funds for your cause or recruit volunteers. Evoking an emotion (such as joy, hope, melancholy, passion, etc.) is a great way to motivate site visitors to act.
Do you have a distinct brand identity?
If you have distinct branding, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate that into your website. Visual consistency is the key to ensuring that current and potential supporters instantaneously recognize your nonprofit.
Including your logo, any visual assets your organization might use in business materials, and fonts are just a few things to look at working into your new website. If your organization has brand standards, make sure your web designer receives those standards to design by the rules of your organization’s visual identity.
Are there certain colors you would like to use or avoid?
This pairs closely with the previous question. If your nonprofit’s logo and other business collateral includes certain colors, it’s smart to incorporate these into the website. If your organization does not have specific colors associated with your visual brand, definitely let your designer know if you have certain colors in mind that you would absolutely love (or hate) to see used in the design.
What are some sites you find appealing?
Make a list of websites you really like. Write out why you find them attractive, and what exactly you like about them. This list can help your designer visualize what it is that you love in a website.
What are some sites you are not a fan of?
Conversely, make a list of websites you don’t like. Explain why you don’t like aspects of the site. This can help your designer avoid including certain features you want to steer clear of.
Have you been through the web design process? What process did you go through to decide on a visual direction for your new site? What obstacles did you face during the design process? Let us know in the comments below.