August 20, 2012

How to create clear objectives for your nonprofit’s website

  • Buffer
  • Buffer

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, Web publishers, general public.

John HaydonIf you’re creating a new website, or redesigning your current website, you absolutely must start with clear objectives.

This way, you’ll save time deciding which website platform best suits your needs. You’ll also and have a clear framework for your design.

What are clear objectives?

A clear objective is your destination. Your website is much more than a place where people get information on the Internet. It’s a vehicle for you to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your destination).

For example, you want to increase your prevalence in search results. Or you want to achieve higher conversions with e-mail subscribers and donors. You also want people to do stuff on your website, which is discussed more below.

As much as you can, write out clear objectives for your website project. Here’s a useful worksheet.

Connect it to your organization’s heart

Include a simple paragraph that expresses the mission or heart of your organization, and commit to infusing your website with this lifeblood. Use this statement as an anchor point that you can refer to again and again.

You will need it – especially when disagreements arise about various different functionalities and design elements within the site.

In other words, rooting yourself in your organization’s mission will help you make the best decision at each point in the project.

What do you want people to do on your website?

Another critical part of planning objectives for your website is defining your calls to action. For example, joining an e-mail list as if you were signing up as a volunteer.

It might be tempting to put several calls to action on your homepage, or within the sidebars, but this just won’t work. The more choices people have the less likely they’ll make any choice at all.

Think of your calls to action as road signs giving people directions as they travel through your website. Keep in mind that people arrive at various different pages based on where they came from.

For example, many people might arrive at a page because they typed in a specific keyword in Google. The call to action you place on that page should direct that person to their very next point on the map. That may not be making a donation but instead liking your Facebook page or joining your e-mail list. The assumption here is that because they found your site in search results, their relationship with your organization is new and tenuous.

Planning calls to action

The best way to plan calls to action on your website is to answer these questions:

  • What different actions do you want people to take on your site?
  • Why do you want them to take those actions?
  • Why would they want to take those actions?
  • What are your top viewed pages on your website?
  • What are your top viewed pages in search engines?
  • What are the keywords people used to find those pages?
  • What are users thinking when they view each page on your website?
  • What motivated them to view that page in the first place?
  • Based on that motivation, what might their relationship with your organization be?
  • What are the pages that most of your first-time donors view before they donate?
  • What are the pages that people view most before they subscribe to your e-mail list?

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What do you think? Please share in the comments. John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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