By Charlie Hullihen, Director of Communications and Client Relations
Website redesign is something every nonprofit wonders about. How often should we change our layout? How drastic should the changes be? Should we make any kind of announcement when our new site goes live?
These are just some of the things we are frequently asked by nonprofits, and they’re all good questions. The problem, of course, is that the answers will not be the same for all organizations. How often and how drastically you redesign your website depends mostly on your intended audience. Here are some things to consider if your nonprofit is looking to give its website a facelift.
What age group do the majority of your followers fall under?
This is probably the most important piece of information to consider when it comes to redesigning a website. If the answer is “older”, you will want to only make small and infrequent changes. Although exceptions most certainly do apply, 2013’s elderly are not renowned for being particularly tech-savvy. Any major changes involving things like color scheme and major layout alterations, (think, for example, change your site’s colors from green and white to blue and yellow and then moving your navigation menu from the top of the site to the side) some of your older followers may think they are visiting the wrong site or that your domain was bought by someone else.
If most of your supporters are elderly, save redesigns only for situations where they are necessary (we will discuss some of these situations below). In cases that you DO have to redesign your site, begin sharing the news a few weeks ahead of time in as many ways as you can. This can be done via social medial, the news section of your website, in newsletters and email blasts, and at any events and/or meetings your organization may host. This will prepare everyone for the switch and will cut down on any confusion that can come with new site launches.
Is your site outdated?
If your site is starting to look outdated, it may be time for a redesign, regardless of who your audience is. One newly emerging sign of an outdated site is poor performance on cell phones and tablets. However, if your site is accessible via mobile devices, that may be enough for now, but you will probably want to consider a responsive design in the future. On the other hand, if your site is nearly impossible to navigate on mobile devices, it’s probably time to start making some changes.
Some signs that your site is EXTREMELY outdated include really slow load times, frames, animated gifs, scrolling marquees, background music, and flash animations. Some may laugh when they read this but, believe it or not, there are still sites out there that look like this. If your nonprofit falls into this category, it’s definitely time for a redesign.
What types of feedback are you receiving?
When in doubt, consider the opinions of those that visit your site. Do you receive frequent emails that the site is not working, is difficult to navigate, or asking how to use it? Remember, one of the first things to consider for your website whether or not people are going to want/be able to use it. Even if it’s a design you and your coworkers/board members love, if it’s getting an excessive amount of complaints, it needs to be fixed.
If you are not receiving any voluntary feedback, you can ask your followers to take a quick survey or even ask for feedback on your social media accounts. Those that honestly care about your nonprofit and its mission will give genuine feedback because they want to see you achieve your mission just as much as you do.
When experiences can you share with our readers about website redesign?