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Best Practices: Designing for Nonprofits 1 June 2010

Posted by jannaq in Design, Non-Profit.
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Like any website available on the Internet, nonprofit sites require similar best practices like being user friendly, easily navigable, and use appropriate fonts, colors, and other design elements of that ilk. The difference though is that often a nonprofit website, because of their goals, needs more than what’s required for a corporate site. Non profit sites need to design to make designated tasks as easy as possible. Visitors need to be able to effortlessly learn about the cause, how to donate money and time, in an inviting manner that wont detract from these goals.

Noteworthy best practices, according to the design-forward site Smashing Magazine, include the following:

Make the Site Donor Friendly

Since donations fuel every nonprofit organization, keeping the processing of giving money simple and straight-forward is crucial. Websites are a great place for soliciting donations because of its ability to attract donors and provide them with the necessary information without being to forward. In order to do this successfully, make sure the donation page is prominently linked to the home page. Further, make the actual donation process as painless as possible. If the process itself requires a lot of effort and commitment, such as setting up an account, viewers are more likely to change their mind about donating.

Make the Site Media Friendly

Achieving media attention can potentially translate to donations and attention from other audiences who may spread word about the organization. Therefore, it is important to make it easy for journalists to find key information about the nonprofit. Press ready media kits with detailed information like the profiles of key personnel can make this discovery task easier for journalists.

Make the Site Volunteer-Friendly

There are many of people who many not have the money to make a donation but are passionate enough about the cause to donate their time. By providing multiple means of contact, such as e-mail, address, and phone number,  viewers are more able to get the information they need to become a volunteer.

Make Sure Your Organization’s Purpose is Immediately Apparent

Since designers and clients are familiar with their organization, it is often too easy for them to take for granted what visitors of the site may not yet know about their organization. To avoid overlooking audiences who are unfamiliar with the nonprofit’s purpose, it is important to that the site make it easy to find out what the organization is about. For example, putting an abbreviated mission statement on the homepage shortcuts the work a viewer must do to understand the organization.

Make Sure Your Website is Consistent with Your Other Promotional Materials

Incongruent messaging can confuse viewers and lessen the chances of being recognized in future passing.  By echoing the look and feel of other promotional materials brand identity is increased.

Know Your Site’s Purpose Up Front

By taking the time to address the purpose of the site prior to designing, the nonprofit site can be designed to directly communicate that message. This sadsves designers time and money from having to make unnecessary changes down the road

Include a News Section or Blog

Including a blog gives people a reason to return to your site. By creating content that may appeal to tem, viewers will come back on a regular basis, keeping your site top of mind and increasing the likelihood that they may donate time or money.

Source: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/14/non-profit-website-design-examples-and-best-practices/

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