Quality web design and maintenance can be pricy. Therefore it’s not surprising that when building websites non profit and charity organizations often come up lacking in both design and features. By necessity, these organizations provide a minimal budget for advertising purposes – including website design and hosting. However, with a few creative solutions, non profit websites can be just as dynamic as those of mega corporations.
There are a variety of free or low cost website hosting options available. Many of these offer simple template design, or optional software (WYSIWYG) that allows someone with no HTML skills to easily design an entire website. Although this solves the problem of actually getting the site online, it doesn’t help to make the most of it. These inexpensive websites are often built by volunteers or clerical employees of the non profit organization. As these people are not necessarily webmasters or marketing and IT pros, the resulting websites may lack functionality or basic user-friendly design.
If you are charged with the responsibility of designing a website for a non profit organization, here are a few simple tips to help you design a great website.
Encourage Volunteerism and Donations
Because promotion is the entire point of websites, non profit organizations need to promote their cause. Naturally this means putting a lot of information on your website. However, it doesn’t matter how much you emphasize the importance of the cause if you don’t give people a way to do something about it.
If you don’t have a payment system on your non profit website, a simple PayPal donate button can be added easily and costs nothing (your charity will need a PayPal account, however). Make sure your donation button isn’t buried among graphics and text. It should be predominant on the home page, and available on every page of the site. Leave bit of blank space around it to make it stand out. Place a link to a page of information about the good things you’ve done with donations near the button. Hesitant donors will want to see where their money is going.
Your website home page should also predominantly feature a link to a page on information on volunteering. It’s a good idea to include a little info about volunteer programs on the home page, but give this section is own page as well. In addition to the contact address or form, include detailed information about the benefits of volunteering and the requirements for volunteers. If they have came to your non profit website, they already have an interest in helping. However, people want to know what they are signing up for in advance.
Make Your Non Profit Website User Friendly
Even people who support your non profit organization won’t stay on your website long if it’s difficult to use. Make sure navigation is clear, and every page is accessible. Keep graphic sizes to a minimum. This is often a cause of slow websites – non profit and charity websites typically post a lot of pictures. While this can be quite effective in winning support, they load slowly. Use thumbnails linked to larger photos, and if you have a lot of pictures include a photo gallery page. People will expect this page to load slowly.
Ascetic appeal is important in websites and non profits are no exception. Use a consistent, pleasing color theme. Give your websites the same color scheme as your non profit’s logo if you have one. This aids in recognition.