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The Ten Fatal Flaws in Nonprofit Website Design… and What to Do About Them

Welcome to the Ten Fatal Flaws in Nonprofit Website Design. Over the course of the next few months, we will be delivering more information and tips on how to use your website to drive engagement, so be sure to subscribe to our page to follow the Ten Fatal Flaws in Nonprofit Website Design.

It’s important to us that you are able to take full advantage of the potential of your website to nurture your philanthropic community, share impact, cultivate and solicit donors, and engage your board. That’s why we are delivering this web blog series – to explore with you the ten fatal flaws that will keep your web presence from living up to its potential. But we won’t just tell you the fatal mistakes, we will help you avoid them by giving you instruction on what to do about it. You will learn how to fix the flaws, making your website the best it can be.

What are the Ten Fatal Flaws?

  1. The site doesn’t look cohesive.
    This includes accurate color representation of your brand, your typography, and a layout. It also includes quality photographs, video, and graphics. Check out our home page for an example of cohesive visuals.
  2. Your site is out of date.
    Remember Web 1.0 from 1995? I do. And it was ugly. The design appearance factors in your website are critical to your users’ engagement and also to your credibility! 
  3. The site is not mobile-friendly.
    45% percent of U.S. web views are on smartphones so it’s important to pay attention to this flaw. On top of that, Google will penalize a site in ranking if it is not mobile-friendly. No one needs to have points taken away for mobile flaws.
  4. The site is hard to use.
    Does the user wonder how to navigate your site? Is the site easy to use? If your users don’t easily understand who you are or what you do, you will not gain their trust and willingness to engage in programming or fundraising.
  5. The site performs slowly.
    If your site is low, your users will be discouraged to stick around on the site. If your site takes longer than three seconds to load, the chance of the user leaving the site increases to 90%.
  6. The site cannot be found.
    Has your site been optimized to be found by search engines, known as SEO? Do you know SEO? It’s no longer a nice to have, it is a must-have.
  7. There is no organizational credibility.  People want to know about your good work and how you support your programming. This improves credibility and increases outreach and engagement. Where are your impact stories? Are they front and center or buried two pages deep?
  8. There is no content strategy.
    Is the content written for your audience? Is it concise? Is it well organized? Do users leave your website and think “What did I just experience?”
  9. Your audience can not engage with you.
    Do you give your users ample opportunities to make contact with you and interact with fundraising or program activities?
  10. You do not have a plan to keep your site up-to-date.
    You should have a plan to review, revise, and repair —  and repeat this on a schedule. Nothing stays the same: you change, technology changes, your world changes. Find the things that no longer work before your users do.

So those are the Ten Fatal Flaws in Nonprofit Website Design. Simple right? Well, hold on, not so simple. What do you do about each of them? Especially if you’re on a budget, or are a small organization, or a large organization with lots of moving parts and a complicated mission narrative?

We got you. Stay tuned here and each blog in this series will break down one fatal flaw with specific actions you can take to correct the problem and establish web domination…ok maybe not, but you will make your board and your users happy to be on your site.


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