Developing a Website for a Non-Profit Organization
Maksym Bezorudko / 03.07.2018450
Like any other business entity, today’s non-profit organizations also need websites – to communicate with volunteers, sponsors, and the general public. A resource like this should provide information, enable communication, and increase the overall public trust.
In this article, we will go through all the stages of the development of a non-profit organization website and provide a few examples of what this type of website should look like.
Creating a Non-Profit Website: Where to Begin?
First things first, everything starts with setting goals – you want to know what exactly this website is for.
To facilitate the development process, you should provide the developers with enough information – that includes the proper positioning and the choice of the web development platform. This will ensure that the developers won’t stray too far away from the original idea and deliver the right product in the end.
Setting Goals and Positioning
It’s the basis of everything – if you don’t know where you want to be, how can you ever get there? As a rule, the main goal for a website like this is to provide information to certain groups of visitors. In addition to that, you may have news, calls, and other forms of requests. Also, a non-profit website might have collecting e-mail addresses, e-mail marketing, or promoting the organization’s social media pages as its goals.
When you’re positioning your company, you’re defining its role in the life of the society, thus setting it apart from the similar companies. You might be solving the same problems as someone else but using your own, innovative approach.
Choosing the right web development platform for non-profit websites
A good development team will always help you make that choice. If the website functionality does not suggest any complicated online forms, calculators, or other tricky modules, then you should go with ModX or WordPress. These content management systems (CMS) will allow you to cut down the costs and time-frame of the development.
For websites with elaborate functionality and features, we suggest using Laravel 5 – a PHP framework that will handle almost anything you could imagine, including the large amounts of incoming traffic.
Providing the developers with the required info
At this stage, you need to realize what kind of information your website should contain and how exactly it should be organized – that includes making a list of sections you’d like to have on your future website. To get more ideas, it might useful to browse the websites of your competitors, pick a few examples you really like, and send them to the developers. This will help the graphic designers to come up with the right visuals (including the logo design) for your website.
Non-Profit Websites: The Main Challenges You Might Face
Most companies that we’ve had as our clients, complained of the same problems when it came to their website:
- Overcomplicated website structure and inability to quickly find the required information;
- Outdated visual design;
- Lack of a mobile-friendly version;
- Lack of the proper Call-to-Action (CTA);
- Slow page load speed (learn more about the issue in one of our previous articles);
- Lack of the proper internal SEO, which leads to users being unable to find the information they need on your website.
Therefore, if you want your non-profit website to be a success, you should deal with these problems first.
What else is there to know?
It is crucial that you fine-tune the main page of your website since it will be getting the majority of the traffic.
You will also need to:
- state your organization’s advantages and achievements;
- show your team/office and, generally, be as open as possible by adding images and videos;
- ensure the adaptiveness of your website – it should look equally good on desktop, tablets, and smartphones;
- switch to the secure «https» protocol (if you haven’t done it yet);
- implement a fixed-position menu during the page scrolling;
- enable a 24/7 online chat/consultant;
- make sure you’ve got CTAs in the right places (pages where you need users to commit a certain action);
- provide the links to your social media pages;
- place your phone number right in the header area and make it «clickable» for calls from mobile devices.
Web Development Stages for a Non-Profit Website
In order to create a really good non-profit website, the whole web design process should be split into two main stages.
This stage usually takes up anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks and includes the following activities:
- website structure planning (including UI prototyping);
- preparing the statement of work (SOW).
This stage is a bit longer – from 4 to 8 weeks. It includes the following activities:
- custom design;
- responsive (mobile-friendly) interface;
- back-end development on CMF or framework;
- filling the website with the provided content;
- setting up the «https» connection and hosting;
- page load speed optimization in accordance with the Google Page Speed Insight requirements.
This kind of approach allows for a solid website that is easy to use and navigate.
Please note: for the detailed web development process of a corporate website, please also see this article.
As you can see, the amount of work is quite impressive so that’s why we have at least 5 different specialists working on a project at our studio.
After the Website Is Ready
Once your website is up and running, you shouldn’t be celebrating it yet – there’s still a lot to do if you want to succeed:
- search engine optimization (SEO) so that your future visitors could find you easier and faster;
- set up and enable various analytics tools to track your visitors + their data and sources;
- website maintenance and support, which you’re going to need to keep your website free of any technical issues.
Examples of Our Work
The Saint John Newcomers Centre is an organization, which helps people who are arriving in the town of Saint John to settle. It assists the newcomers in solving all of their problems and facilitates quicker social integration.
This is what their website looked BEFORE our input:
- Outdated design;
- Poor UI and UX;
- No mobile-friendly version;
- Miscellaneous usability issues: some elements were misplaced, the admin panel was overcomplicated, etc.;
- Slow page load speed.
We dealt with those issues and came up with the following result:
- Simplified structure;
- Easy-to-use admin panel;
- Modern look and feel;
- Mobile-friendly, adaptive design;
- Increased page load speed;
- Additional focus on the most important details (organization’s functions, upcoming events, and social media pages);
- Analytics tools enabled + we started to track and collect the website data (which has never been done before).
Another upcoming project for our studio is a website for SJLIP, a non-profit organization. Soon, you will be able to find their website in our portfolio too.
If your non-profit organization could use a solid website, we are the people to talk to. Our studio creates websites for NPOs, charitable organizations, and other non for profit institutions.
The best way to go about it is to create a custom website that addresses your needs directly. However, if you feel like saving some time and money, you could always benefit from choosing one of our ready-made websites – browse the selection here.
Developing a website is a matter that should not be underestimated and postponed – the sooner you get online with your message and reach out to your potential and current clients, the faster you will be able to reach your goals.