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Putting your best content forward on your nonprofit’s new website – an introduction

By Caitlin Ewing

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Let’s assume you, the reader, are part of a nonprofit that is redesigning or refreshing your website in some way – or at least considering it.

A project like this can seem overwhelming. There are lots of moving parts, and whether you’re working on the project internally or with a partner, it can be difficult know what’s what. And more importantly, what’s going to lead to the most successful outcome.

I’ll let you in on something.

As you’re probably aware, the 3 most basic components of a website project are design, content, and code. And the truth is that, while all of these components are important, one of them is more so than the others. Yes. You should want a delightful design and fantastic functionality – but what’s it all for, if it doesn’t make a real connection with people?

Looking at your project as a mere collection of words, images, and code is failing to see the bigger picture. Examine why you decided to change your website in the first place. What goal is your nonprofit trying to reach? It could be attracting new members, raising awareness, or gathering more support to sustain your organization.

If your goals have anything to do with engaging your audience, the most crucial component of your new website is going to be the content – or your story, and how you tell it. You and others close to your mission know this story very well, but it may not be written down anywhere for others to get it, believe it, and get behind it. This counts as a missed opportunity for engaging new and existing members of your community.

The philosophy behind it.

When we first start working with a nonprofit organization, we normally find that they tell an amazing story in person, but more often than not, that story tends to fall apart on their website. It gets lost in dry, poorly planned out content. The facts might even be there, but it’s not organized very well and the emotion is missing.

Here at Imagebox, we champion the website as the hub of a nonprofit organization. It’s the only place that you can tell your whole story – and getting that story right can take you to another level. All of your marketing efforts should be sending people back to the website to learn more. Don’t you want to inform and move them to take action when they get there?

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Think of a first-time visitor to your website like someone you’re meeting face to face, and imagine that each subsequent interaction is like having a conversation. You have knowledge, passion, and a unique personality. Just like a person – your nonprofit’s website should also have those things.

So – just focus on writing, and everything else is unimportant?

No. Not at all, actually. Your nonprofit’s website is an experience. Focus on message first, but then support it with great design and technology. Think of all the parts combining to form the Megazord that is your story.

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Even if your old site had decent content, it may have been hard to find because of complicated page structure and difficult to read because of bad design choices. Or, maybe the content was pretty underwhelming, but the design was nice and it had some great functionality. In both cases, your website wasn’t living up to it’s fullest potential.

The sum of all the parts makes your nonprofit’s website so much more powerful. To deliver your message in the most impactful way and make your website project a success– beauty, technology, and information should work together in purposeful harmony.

The best is yet to come.

Good news! This article is only the introduction for an ongoing series. Moving forward, I’ll build on the information presented today by introducing 5 guiding principles for creating the best content experience on your nonprofit’s new website:

1 – Discovering the Details.
2 – Planning and Doing.
3 – Designing with purpose.
4 – Focusing on Functionality.
5 – The end, but not really: Don’t stop creating.

The first principle – Discovering the Details – will focus on really learning about your nonprofit and how going through this process at the start of a project can pave the way to success.