by Andrew Follett
Courtesy of Marketing Profs
Is your current nonprofit’s website delivering results? By results I mean, does your website have a robust online donation interface? a prominent call to action? Are you able to collect email addresses from visitors? Is the information on your site easy to find, up-to-date and shareable on social networking sites? Does your website allows you to collect and track data about your visitors? and does it have an appealing look and feel?
If you answered “no” to two or more of the above questions, maybe it is time for your nonprofit to think about redesigning its website. However, before you go out and hire a Web designer and developer to rebuild the most important tool in your marketing, development and PR vault, make sure you have a well-defined plan for success.
Developing a Website Redesign Plan
Before your nonprofit embarks on a website redesign, be sure to dedicate sufficient time and resources to developing a clear, specific plan. A detailed plan will help keep your project on track, avoiding costly changes and strategy realignments after the new site is live.
Start developing a plan by collecting feedback on your website from visitors and experts.
1. Get feedback from your visitors. Website visitors have a unique perspective on your website, and they can offer valuable insights to help you create a user-friendly experience. Unlike you and your team, visitors are more removed from your website, which allows them to quickly uncover usability issues and points of confusion.
2. Get feedback from professionals. It’s also important to solicit feedback from independent professionals who can offer specific recommendations. Although visitors are good at pointing out problems, most visitors feedback is based on personal preferences and fails to offer solutions. Even your internal team, which may consist of seasoned marketing professionals, may be too close to the project to identify the vital issues related to your website performance.
Experts can help direct your redesign by providing time-tested advice based on Web design, usability, and strategy principles. Though art may be subjective, Web design is not. In Web design, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach layout, navigation, copy, white space, and other critical website components.
Trained professionals can ensure that you have the right plan in place before implementing a redesign, as well as help you avoid a “design by committee” situation within your company.
Once you’ve collected enough visitors and expert feedback on your current website, compile and prioritize a list of recommendations to be included in the redesign specification. Not every suggestion will be appropriate, or even possible, but make sure the critical ones are included.
3. Create a detailed specification document. With the prioritized recommendations in hand, start developing a detailed project-specification document. It should include as much detail as possible, including the proposed site structure, wire-frame sketches, page content (using a cohesive keyword strategy), design preferences (style, color and examples), and any other relevant information.
If your requirement list starts to exceed the original scope, begin breaking the spec into multiple phases. A well-defined spec is integral to an efficient, cost-effective and on-time project. And your Web design and development team will love you for it.
4. Determine measurable objectives. Your nonprofit should agree on clear, measurable objectives before launching a new website. A redesign without measurable impact is ultimately a failure.
Goals should be based on current site performance, using average conversion rates as a benchmark (if you don’t have this kind of data, start using Google Analytics today). Defining objectives also forces you to think critically about the redesign from a business perspective, and how you plan to contribute to the bottom line.
Before embarking on redesigning your current nonprofit website, take a close look at your objectives and don’t start anything without a plan in place.