10 Must-Haves For A Successful Nonprofit Website

Published: Thursday, July 9, 2015 | Tags: nonprofit, website

No matter what type of nonprofit you are, one of the most important tools at your disposal is your website. But are you getting the most out of your website? To make sure your website is effectively pulling in traffic, engaging visitors and driving revenue/donations, don't let your website be without these 10 must-haves!


1) Responsive Design

responsive design

We talk a lot about responsive design, and that's because it is extremely important.

A responsive design adjusts to fit any screen size, whether the site is being viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. If your website isn’t responsive, mobile users will have a difficult time viewing and navigating through your website.

Google recently updated its search algorithm to prioritize “mobile friendly” websites in mobile search results. That means websites that aren’t responsive will be pushed down lower in mobile search rankings.

Learn more: How Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm Will Impact Your Website


2) Intuitive, User-Friendly Navigation

Well-thought-out navigation is crucial to accomplishing your goals on your website. If visitors can't find your donation page or events calendar, how can you expect to have any success?

To make sure visitors can find what they're looking for on your website, follow these navigation best practices:

  • Use familiar, logical naming in your menus and web pages. Stick to the basics: AboutServices, Contact, etc.
  • Limit your main menu to no more than 7 menu items.
  • Avoid reeeeeally long dropdowns.

Learn more: 8 Tips For Planning Your Website Navigation


3) Call-To-Action Buttons

call-to-action buttons

Call-to-action buttons are an important component of your website's navigation. The purpose of a call-to-action button is to encourage visitors to click to do something (become a member, make an appointment, subscribe to your blog). In most cases, a call-to-action button should link to a landing page with a form.

Call-to-action button best practices:

  • Use action-oriented language, such as Download, Sign up or Register
  • Keep text short—2 to 5 words.
  • Choose a contrasting but complimentary color for your button. It should stand out, but not deter from the web design. We suggest checking out this color psychology guide.
  • If you have more than one call-to-action, create a hierarchy. Decide what’s the most important action someone could take on your site, and make that call-to-action the most prominent. Everything on your site can’t be the most important. If so, nothing is important.


4) Online Forms

Using interactive forms on your website can greatly improve your visitors' user experience. 

Think about how long it takes for someone to download a PDF form, print it out, complete it by hand, and send it in the mail. Now think about how much faster it is when someone fills out an online form. They can complete the form in a couple of minutes, and you get their submission instantly!

Forms can also be valuable marketing tools. They allow you to gather information about your visitors and identify potential leads.

Ways to use online forms on your website:

  • Member registration
  • Blog or Newsletter subscription
  • Event registration and payment
  • Program/class sign up
  • Contact form
  • Ebook/whitepaper download


5) High-quality photography

Dallas JCC hero image

We are emotional beings, and the right imagery can have a powerful impact on our behavior. By using high quality photography on your website, you can grab people's interest and connect your cause/vision/mission with theirs.

Photography best practices:

  • Use photos of real people (not stock photography models)
  • If you don't have the budget for custom photography and you must use stock photography, stick to images of landscapes, city skylines and objects.
  • Experiment with filters and overlays to create different looks and moods.
  • Avoid pixelated or blurry images.
  • Always obey the licensing/copyright rules!

Learn more:


6) SSL Certificate

Website security breaches are a very real threat, which is why it's so important to protect your website. Make sure you have an SSL Certificate installed on your website to keep your data secure. (You may even gain a slight advantage in your Google rankings.)


7) Analytics tracking

Tracking website analytics is a crucial step in online marketing. This is how you measure your success and determine what's working for your nonprofit (and what's not).

Create a Google Analytics account and embed the tracking code into your website's HTML to track things like total number of visitors, top performing pages, bounce rate and traffic sources. Google has helpful instructions on how to get started with Analytics.


8) Social media integration

social media buttons

Help visitors help you by providing social media share buttons on your blog and other shareable website content. We really like the ShareThis buttons, which enable and encourage visitors to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks.

You should also include social media buttons that link to your organization's profile pages. These buttons should be placed in the header or footer of your website. Don't feel the need to add all of the social media icons. Just include the ones your organization actually uses.


9) SEO

Understanding the basics of SEO can make a big difference in your website's performance.

Follow these SEO best practices:

  • Optimize each page's window/page title, H1 header and meta description (click here to learn how!)
  • Write descriptive alt text for every image
  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly (so Google will give your website priority in mobile search results)
  • Keep your URLs as short as possible, and human-readable
  • Be active on social media—your organization's social rankings (likes, followers, shares) will contribute to higher search rankings.


10) Fast load time

Your website should take no more than 3 seconds to load. Any longer, and people's impatience will start to kick in. Fast load time is an important part of creating an enjoyable user experience.

One of the most common load time issues occurs when too-large image files are used on a website. Be sure to resize your images (maximum of 2000 pixels wide) before adding them to your website.


Does your website have all of the essentials?

If your website is missing any of the items in this list, it's time to take action. Implement the latest functionality, optimize your site for search and social media, get all of your marketing components in place, and install that Google Analytics code!

Your website is one of your nonprofit's biggest investments. Make sure you're getting the most out of it!


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