By Katy Teson, a content strategist at Wired Impact, an organization seeking to make powerful websites something all nonprofits can afford. She also writes about digital marketing with helpful and actionable advice on Wired Impact’s nonprofit marketing blog and for their online guides.
Are you getting that sinking feeling that your nonprofit’s website isn’t helping your mission as much as it could? While you don’t need to be at a charity: water level for your nonprofit marketing, having an effective and easy-to-use website is an important step to achieving your goals. Look for these six signs that your nonprofit needs a new website, and find tools and tips to better assess how your current site is doing.
1) Website traffic isn’t great—the quantity or quality.
When it comes to website traffic, prioritize quality over quantity. But if your current website doesn’t get as much traffic as you’d like and the visitors you do get don’t stick around long, there’s a good chance that you need to make considerable changes.
Having access to Google Analytics for your website is key to getting to the roots of the problem. You can use it to see how much traffic you’re getting, where those people are coming from, and how they are using your site. For example, if you’re hoping that a lot of people find your nonprofit through search engines, a minimal number of visitors from organic search can signal a problem with the search-friendliness of your website and content.
Consider using Google Analytics dashboards for nonprofits to help simplify the process of gathering data and drawing meaningful conclusions. Get started by answering the following questions:
- Based on traffic sources, how are visitors finding our website?
- Looking at pages per session and bounce rate (ideally less than 70%), how engaged are our website visitors?
- What sections of our website are getting the most and least attention in terms of page views?
2) It doesn’t display well on phones or tablets.
According to M+R Benchmarks, half of nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile and tablet users. Having a mobile-friendly website is a necessity, not a nice-to-have. Mobile visitors are coming whether you’re ready or not, but they won’t stay long or complete important goals if your site isn’t made to adapt to their device. If your site doesn’t have a responsive design (meaning it displays well on computers, phones, and tablets), it’s time for an upgrade.
So how do you tell if your website works on different devices? Give it a try! View your nonprofit’s website on a computer, tablet and phone and test these important actions:
- Complete an online form
- Use the main navigation to get around
- Find where to make a donation
- Load your most popular pages and click on links
3) The online giving experience is rocky.
Most generations of donors are now comfortable making donations on a nonprofit’s website. But the more difficult you make the process, the more people you’ll lose along the way. Simple forms, fewer clicks, and clear calls-to-action are crucial. What’s not ideal? Losing donor trust by abruptly sending people away from your nonprofit’s website to make their donation somewhere else.
There are a lot of advantages to accepting donations on your website. And it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. When’s the last time you went through the process of making an online donation to your nonprofit? Test it out and see whether it would inspire confidence from a new supporter by focusing on the following questions:
- Are people sent away from your website to make a donation?
- Is the donation page branded or customized in a way that looks trustworthy and specific to your cause?
- Is the donation form easy to use on different devices like a computer and phone?
- What happens after someone makes a gift? Are they redirected to a nice “thanks for donating” page?
4) Key features and content aren’t accessible.
Accessibility and usability are concepts that apply to everyone visiting your site. When you use formats like rotating images or have a disorganized website structure, you’re making things harder than they need to be. These days, all websites should be designed with accessibility guidelines in mind—they apply to website visitors of all abilities no matter your mission.
While some parts of accessibility require having a more technical background, you can easily check some of the guidelines using free online checkers and checklists. Even without a developer, there are improvements, like adding text descriptions for visual content, that you can get started on immediately.
However, if your site gets failing marks on multiple areas of accessibility, the adjustments required to your site’s code could warrant starting over completely with a new site or platform rather than retroactively fixing your existing one.
5) Information is outdated and difficult to update.
Outdated content doesn’t automatically mean you need a new website as long as it’s something you have the drive and ability to fix. However, if your content isn’t great because your site is impossible to maintain, a new website could end up serving you better in the long run.
To see how you’re doing, conduct a basic content audit and keep an eye out for old content, dead ends, and broken links. Your site’s content should have substance and help build your credibility. People should flow through it easily with helpful links and clear calls to action. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it easy for visitors to find information about who you are and what you do?
- Would your content convince a new visitor to get involved?
- Are you embarrassed to send visitors to your website?
6) You (and visitors) don’t use it to do anything.
Is your website more of a static brochure than a tool for action? Even if your supporters can make online donations, there’s an opportunity for your website to do so much more, like integrating with other technology services or automating simple tasks like online applications.
To assess the amount of heavy lifting your website does for your organization, consider where these processes happen and the time and money that could be saved if your site had the power to pitch in:
- Recruiting volunteers
- Growing your mailing list
- Recording donations in a donor management system
- Promoting events and selling tickets
- Accepting applications for your programs or services
- Answering common questions that your staff gets asked all the time
If one or more of these signs hit close to home, spend the time to fully assess your current website. Can you work with what you have and take it to the next level? Or is it time to start the process of building a new site? Making your case for a new website isn’t always easy, but it’s helpful when you can demonstrate how your current site isn’t working hard enough for your mission, your community or your big picture goals.
Using a website platform instead of a custom-built website allows nonprofits to break up the cost of a website over its lifetime, access premium support and protect themselves from outdated designs. The Wired Impact platform includes nonprofit-specific features as well as personalized marketing support whenever you need it: