Give Your Website a Facelift: 7 Ways to Digitally Renovate

In today's world, the fastest way to get information is to simply go online. Type your organization's name in a search engine, and within milliseconds, you have a list of results, including a link to your website.

Your website serves as a first impression, an educational resource, an engagement tool and a donation method. Keeping your site updated and user-friendly should be a digital priority, especially if you're driving people to your website.

Here are 7 ways to renovate your organization's website:

1. Pull the "donate" button out of hiding
Potential donors don't want to work to make a donation, so they shouldn't have to hunt for your "donate" button. A "donate" button should always be positioned on your homepage before the fold - scrolling to find the button is a no-no. This doesn't mean throw the button smack-dab in the middle of the screen, but it should appear toward the top of the homepage.

The button itself should contrast with the rest of the page. Contrasting doesn't need to be neon yellow, hot pink or even red. But it should stand out from the rest of the links, buttons and tabs on the page. If the dominant color on your page is red, then your "donate" button should not be red. Make it any color (within your brand's palette) that stands out and catches the visitor's eye. But stay away from obnoxious colors and designs.

2. Keep your homepage clean and uncluttered
Putting too much stuff on your homepage can overwhelm a visitor and drive them away. Light copy and large graphics are both appealing and easy to follow for newly landed visitors. Three to five callout features that encourage them to learn more, read more or do more on another page is a great go-to layout option.

Rotating homepage slides can be used to highlight a success story, upcoming event or campaign update. Just be sure to keep the slides updated - an emergency call to action shouldn't be featured for 6 months.

3. Regularly update your content
If you want people to keep coming back to your site, you need to provide them with new, valuable content. Whether it's a new article, press release, educational material or client story, give your current and prospective donors a reason to regularly check your website. If your content is the same every time they visit, they will eventually stop viewing your website as a source of new information and updates.

Plan out your website content for the year and get a head start now. This will help you avoid going weeks without making an update to your site. If you know a certain month is slower for news, events and campaign updates, then plan to write a client story or educational piece and start gathering and writing info now. Not only will this ease your stress level, but you will produce higher quality content when you have ample time to brainstorm, research and write.

4. Review your donation form
As previously noted, potential donors don't want to work to make a donation. Making a gift to your organization should be easy and enjoyable, not frustrating. So your online donation process should be short and seamless.

The number of required information fields should be kept to a minimum. Any info not required to process the donation should either be optional or not appear on the form. A prospective donor faced with 50 blank information fields probably isn't going to bother taking the time to make a donation.

Keep the number of clicks to a minimum as well. As soon as your site visitor clicks on the "donate" button, they should be taken directly to the donation form. From there, it should take just a couple of clicks to finalize the donation. The more times a prospective donor has to click and go to another page, the more opportunities they have to cancel or leave the donation incomplete.

Make a donation online and test the usability of your form and process. How long did it take you from start to finish? How many clicks did your have to make to process the donation? Was the form streamlined and easy to follow? Testing the form yourself will help you identify areas for improvement.

5. Redirect outside links to a new window
From time to time, links on your site will redirect to a different website. Whether it's your social media buttons or a reference to other sources, somewhere within your site are outside links. When one of these links is clicked, it should always open in a new browser window, making it easy to return to your site. Visitors should never be directed away from your website.

It's also a good idea to regularly verify that your outside links work and are valid. Remove or fix broken links or ones that go to incorrect pages or websites.

6. Place contact info on the homepage
Your physical address and contact info should appear somewhere within the footer of your page. Many people will visit your site specifically looking for that information. Make it easy to find and readily available by placing it in your page footer. You can also include hours of operation, emergency phone numbers and a site map.

7. Consider a responsive design
With an increasing amount of website traffic coming from mobile devices, responsive web design is becoming more and more necessary. A responsive design automatically resizes and rearranges your website when accessed from a tablet or phone. Instead of having to zoom in and out and scroll side to side, mobile visitors are greeted with an easy-to-view site.

However, before you jump into this major overhaul, do some research and discover if investing in a responsive design is the right move for you. Your website analytics will tell you how much of your traffic is coming through mobile devices. If a relatively small portion of your traffic is from mobile, then hold off on making the jump into responsive design. If a substantial portion of traffic is coming through mobile devices, then responsive conversion should be on your docket within the year.

Your website should be a reflection of your organization and brand, where donors, prospects and the community can regularly visit for valuable, up-to-date information. Periodically reviewing your site, identifying problem areas and proactively making improvements will make your website a key part of your engagement, retention, cultivation and education strategies.

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