The importance of planning before designing a new Not for Profit website
This article is an updated version from the one we prepared in 2016. Whilst not much of the information has changed we have undertaken enough projects with Not for Profits to have a greater awareness of the machinations of many organisations and how they approach website design or redesign.
We all recognise the need to have a website that looks professional, crisp and modern and reflects your Not for Profit organisation brand accurately. But, have you considered what you need to do to make sure that this goal is achieved? Do you know that you can save money by being prepared?
Having worked on a number of website redesign projects the most valuable lesson that we can share is the importance of planning before commencing the redesign of your website.
To help you prepare for a website redesign we’ve provided 7 tips that we believe will help you save you a lot of time, money and headaches. Read on :
1-Who is your website for?
When redesigning your existing website, it is important to remember that your website needs to engage your audience. So, you need to ask them what they need and want. Understanding your users will help to eliminate internal assumptions and set you on the right path. Sometimes, you might outsource this to your website designer as they may access more unbiased feedback that can be used in the design process.
2- Set goals
Where does it fit within your overall marketing system? Knowing your goals is essential to thinking how your site should be set up, your website goals need to be clear from the start. For a lot of Not For Profit’s these goals include attracting potential funders, capturing visitor details, providing information about services, freeing up admin staff, or increasing online donations
3 – Review your site map
Your site map refers to the layout of content on your website. The site map helps both users and search engines navigate the site The most important information that you need to have on your site grouped under relevant headings. Knowing what these headings are and identifying an appropriate hierarchy becomes the basis of your website structure. Once you’ve decided what your site map should be you can then begin to set out your content under these headings so that it is clear where everything belongs.
4- Engage your audience
Now that you’ve got your site map decided you might like to consider sharing it with your audience to test if it makes sense. Asking them to locate information that might be of value to them and watching how they find it and how long it takes will assist you in knowing if your sitemap is logical.
4- Create content
Content is king or queen. Once more, CONTENT IS KING or QUEEN. Your content is what will engage the audience and convince people that you know your stuff. Whilst a website might look great it is the written content that will keep them hooked. Some very simple tips for content creation:
- Create clear messaging
- Write for your audience so they feel like you are speaking to them personally
- Use emotion and logic – we decide with our hearts and use our brains to justify decisions
- Have a simple and clear call to action – ‘donate now’.
Review and edit your content and then get somebody who doesn’t know the organisation to read it. Or, hire a copywriter.
5- Have a budget
In short, the answer to ‘how much does a website cost?’ is the same as ‘how long is a piece of string?’ So, look for somebody who has some experience under their belt. You might like to complete tip 6 first and then go shopping to get some insight into pricing before settling on a designer.
6- Create a brief
Write a brief for a designer that summarises all of your findings. The brief should reflect your organisation’s requirements and incorporate what you’ve learned. This brief will help your designer or agency understand what you want to achieve and set the desired expectations. The brief should inform the agency of how much content you have, what your design objectives are and your timeframe. Using this information the designer will be able to assess the amount of work involved and provide a quote to develop your website.
7- Who are the decision makers
The majority of website design jobs seem to have participation from Board members. It is important that members of any committee charged with investigating the development of a new website understands the parameters of their role. It is also important that the staff member charged with implementing the new website and working with the designers has a very clear sense of where their authority starts and finishes. I’ll say no more.
By following these tips your Not for Profit will be able to reduce risk, design for your users, and maximise your budget. You will also be on the path to having a relationship with a web designer that is focused on achieving your website design or redesign goals. By spending time doing user research you.