Photo by mcclouds via flickr
How You Can Create A Welcoming Website – Part One – Your Home Page
How You Can Create A Welcoming Website – Part Three – Your Donation Page
Last week I wrote about how to create a welcoming and audience-centered home page for your website. Now, I would like to show you how to make the rest of your web pages welcoming.
The key is to create pages that are easy to navigate, easy on the eyes (no clutter), and contain compelling content with a clear message and call to action.
Make sure your website has a consistent look on every page and is consistent with the rest of your communication material (both online and print). For example your logo is always in the same place, you stick to a few colors, and you use the same easy-to-read font.
Update your content frequently and make sure you don’t have any outdated information on your site. In addition, all your links must work! Have someone check them on a regular basis. You could lose potential donors or volunteers if they end up on a page with a broken link.
Most likely, you already have a website with some of the sections I will highlight below, so now is a good time to check if your pages are welcoming and audience-centered. This is also a good time to make sure that what you are including is relevant and if there is something important that you are leaving out. Use analytics to figure out how often people are visiting your pages.
Include a photo on all your pages. If you can use pictures of the people you serve, that would be the most compelling. Stick to one or two photos per page, so it doesn’t look cluttered.
Put a Donate Now button on all your pages in a way that’s prominent, but not tacky. You should also include a navigation bar, social media icons, a newsletter sign up box, and a search feature on all your pages, so your readers don’t have to go back to the home page.
The About Us section may be the next place your visitors travel after coming to your home page, and it may be viewed by people who aren’t familiar with your work, so make it captivating. Include your mission, vision, a brief history, and recent accomplishments. You could include a description of your programs and services in this section or create a separate section for that. Be sure your narrative is compelling, but brief. Show how you are making a difference in the community.
Put a staff and board list in this section (include pictures so your audience can put a face to a name), along with contact information, mailing address, hours of operations, directions, and anything else that would be relevant here.
Your donation page should contain a short call to action that emphasizes how the donation will make a difference. Make sure the page is easy to navigate and the donation form is painless. Include options for mailing in donations and contributing in other ways, such as planned giving or in-kind donations. Show appreciation and include a list of donors on your website. Make sure you get their permission first. For corporate and foundation donors, consider displaying their logos. I’ll write more about donating online in my next post.
Here is an opportunity to reach out to the community. Write a compelling call to action to interest people in volunteering or contacting their legislators about an issue related to your cause. If you are recruiting volunteers, you are most likely engaging with people who either found you through a web search or responded to a volunteer request (e.g. on Idealist) and may not know you. It’s important to make a good impression. Again, if there is a form to fill out, make sure it’s user-friendly.
A blog is another great way to reach out. Choose topics you think your audience will be interested in. Promote your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter and encourage two-way communication.
If you have an upcoming event, put a link on your home page that will lead to this page. Include a short description that will entice your visitor to attend your event. If they can register or pay online, make that easy. Be sure your event page stays current.
In this section, include press coverage about your organization, past issues of your newsletter, and press releases. If you get press coverage, post that on social media to bring people back to your website. You can do the same each time you send out your newsletter. Keep this up-to-date and don’t include newsletters and press releases over a year old.
Since you won’t have a lot of room on each page for photos, create a separate photo gallery. Action shots, such as children engaged in an activity, are best.
Include your most recent annual report, if you have one. Otherwise include a list of recent accomplishments.
These are just a few of the sections you might have on your website. Just keep remembering that your website needs to be welcoming and audience-centered.