When did your website last have a make-over? If
it's been more than 2 years you should plan now for a significant
update. It won't cost as much as you might think!
Here are 12 website upgrades that we believe
most small to medium sized nonprofits should install.
– Many websites are hard to read. So
most of us don't really read online, we scan. Densely packed type
is hard to scan. If you increase the white space between lines
it will help folks absorb your site. Did your Web Designer create
your site using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)? If so s/he can open
up your text in less than 10 minutes.
-- Did your Web Designer create
your site using Dreamweaver Templates? If so, you can use Contribute
3 software to edit your content in-house much as you would any
word-processing document. Don't buy an expensive content management
system unless you have more than 50 web pages and a significant
amount of content that changes at least weekly.
-- Edit your text to communicate your
message in fewer words. Divide long sentences into two. Use the
active voice. Expect most visitors to scan your text. Write in
headers and lists. You can make all these changes in-house if you've
implemented the previous two suggestions.
– Drop down or slide-out
menus are a significant aid to site navigation. Visitors expect
to find the information they seek quickly. If you have more than
15 web pages you should probably add drop down menus.
– If you must have an fancy graphic
on a splash page, put it on a corner of your home page. Use your
home page to help your web audience self identify their interest
area and thereby reduce and prioritize the menu offerings that
they see. A school should have different menu offerings for each
of its different constituencies: Students, Faculty, Parents, Alumni,
Admissions, Job Seekers. The home page should only present information
that would be of interest to most of those groups, with links to
– The main resources for search
engine results are Google, MSN, and Open Directory Project. If
you can't be found in them, you can't be found. Getting high rankings
is called "Search Engine Optimization" or SEO. It is
a challenge if you're competing for a single search word like "Alzheimers" or "Stroke".
If you can, use two words plus a regional element like "Ohio
Summer Camp." It will be easier to get high listings in part
because the competition isn't competing. Hire someone with a strong
record of SEO success. Success is time-consuming and not for novices.
- Your online and offline presentation
should be similar. Use one logo. Use the same colors. If your site
designed by a volunteer, it may be time to upgrade to a professional
graphic designer. But be sure to shower your volunteer with thanks
and celebrate how important volunteer efforts were in taking your
first steps online. We all hate to see our creative work "retired." Without
that volunteer, you wouldn't be ready to upgrade. Make your look
consistent with hardcopy materials.
– Receiving financial contributions can be
as simple as purchasing a plug-in service. Many vendors provide
applications that process online donations. The web is not a
subtle medium. Your "ask" should be clear and direct.
Tell your donor prospects what past gifts have done and what
their gifts will do now. Almost every page should have a donation
you have a visitor, you want to know their name and address so
that you can build a relationship. What you do with that information
is a different problem. Contact data captured in simple form can
be sent to multiple locations. A broadcast listserv is an inexpensive
place to capture everything. You can get the names and addresses
off the listserv if you need to. It gives people a handy way to
opt-out. The listserv will allow you to broadcast news and appeals
to a receptive audience. Be sure to send information that is fresh
and of value.
is a great way to distribute information that you have already
created with a word processor. You can create a simple link to
a PDF file and it will display automatically in most browsers.
If you're a Mac user you can create PDF documents just by using
the print function. Microsoft users must buy Adobe's Acrobat program.
That software (also available to Macs) generally results in smaller
PDF file sizes. It gives the added options of protecting documents
from copying and password protection to prevent opening by unwanted
with your online constituents at least quarterly but not more than
once a month. We prefer a single page, html formatted email that
is attractive and presents a limited amount of information in an
organized, visually appealing manor. Alternatively, a very brief
summary with a direct link to the details in a web page or a PDF
document also works well. Our favorite is a careful combination
of these two approaches.
www.VolunteerMatch.org -- it may be the best
resource on the Internet!
– there are
two important ways to attract volunteers. First, post your needs
attractively on your site and provide an easy-to-complete registration
form that can be delivered to you via email. When someone shows
interest, respond quickly. To cast a wider net, be sure to register
your organization at
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