Nonprofits in the digital space have to compete just as much for our ever shortening attention spans, but with the much bigger challenge of driving home powerful missions around health, the environment, humanitarian efforts, education and such within mere seconds. Hence, their digital presence has become more important than ever.
Beyond the umbrella of branding, what really matters and should be at the forefront of all digital communications is user experience. A consistent user experience plays a whole new role in maintaining clear messaging everywhere from direct mail to email to websites and into social media. While this seems like a basic and simple concept, it’s a notable struggle for nonprofits large and small.
Here are some key themes to keep in mind while developing a consistent user experience that will resonate with constituents and entice them to take action in support of the cause.
Responsive web design (RWD) is an inherent enhancement that ultimately increases usability. Defined as the approach which creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website in relation to the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it. Implementing RWD is a great way to allow visitors access to your website anytime, anyplace with minimal frustration.
Being able to pleasantly surprise and delight your visitors on an almost subconscious level through efficiency, learnability and satisfaction can be accomplished when usability is given the thought and due diligence it deserves, which in turn allows constituents to focus on mission based messaging and not be overwhelmed with technology struggles or shortcomings. While the overall website should be developed in this manner, it should also be utilized for additional digital modules like event registrations, email communications and of course donation forms. Every nonprofit should have a responsive donation form! No ifs, ands or buts about it. Just do it!
It is worth noting, however, that usability is a non functional requirement, meaning it cannot be directly measured, but can be quantified by indirect measures such as a decrease in user issues in relation to performing tasks on the website for example. And while a great aesthetic design can facilitate much in this ease of use category, it will not stand for much without the content to support it. After all, design without content isn’t design, it’s decoration. A responsive web design’s main function is primarily around prioritizing content. Having a giant, colorful donation button won’t do much if a nonprofit isn’t literally spelling out ‘why’ a visitor should click or tap on the button. It’s all about content and without it the most beautiful design will fall short of increasing those conversions.
In addition to having websites render in the most efficient manner across the ever-increasing number of devices out there, nonprofits need to also take great care with making their design and content web accessible. Web accessibility means anyone with a disability, including but not exclusive to, visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, neurological along with changes in ability due to aging can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web. There are several levels of compliance that can be achieved by W3C standards. Mostly this is impacted on how a site is developed and coded; yet from an aesthetic perspective this includes color contrast ratios, typography size and contrast and hierarchy of page content. Considering how a screen reader would translate the content on a web page is a great way to evaluate and prioritize components and content.
By keeping digital properties consistent and simple (never underestimate the power of simple), nonprofits will have a much greater chance of standing out and being heard in the vastness of our digital world. Adhering to these basic concepts will provide constituents a greater chance to learn, explore and ultimately support the organization of their choice.