How to Prepare for a Website Redesign
Many nonprofits are springing into action this time of year ready to launch new branding, update goals and strategies, foster new connections, or, like we’re seeing, all of the above.
Nonprofit leaders that understand the value of investing in this vital ‘owned platform’ may understandably still not see the full scope of what it takes to successfully redesign a website.
What is Your Website’s Purpose?
The first question we ask when consulting on a website redesign is, “What are the primary and secondary purposes of your site?”
For the most part, our clients prioritize fundraising and event information, but storytelling and building a volunteer community are frequent responses as well.
Take a few moments to really look at your nonprofit’s current website from the perspective of the consumer. Try to evaluate it with fresh eyes – like you’re a key stakeholder visiting the website for the first time. Is it easy to navigate your site? Does your homepage paint a clear picture of your nonprofit’s mission? What can be better or different? And, most importantly – are the primary and secondary purposes shining through? (You can also ask a friend or family member to peruse the site and share their valuable perspective as an outsider.)
To make it easier to know where to start, we broke down the steps of preparing for a website redesign paired with top tips from our decade+ experience in this arena.
The 4 Crucial Steps to Preparing for a Website Redesign: Audit, Research, Prioritize and Integrate
It's best to start any website redesign project with an audit of your existing site. Your nonprofit likely put a lot of energy and resources into the current website, and we want to look closely at what components are working and where we can improve.
What is a Website Audit?
A website audit is a page-by-page review of your site’s content, functionality and structure to ensure you are meeting your goals, adequately communicating with your audience, and keeping them engaged.
Nearly nine out of 10 online users won’t revisit a website if they have a negative experience on it. This could be a slow load time, an issue with mobile optimization, or broken links.
Your audit should look at these important factors:
Can you find the navigation menu easily?
Can you find the most important information?
What is the bounce rate for each page? (Use Google Analytics, it’s your friend!)
Is your website ADA compliant? Here’s a helpful guide to learn more
Do the forms work?
Our blog on the 5-Step Nonprofit Website Audit goes into much more detail, so we’ll move along to Prioritization.
Conduct Research on Related Websites
In addition to auditing your own website, it is also valuable to spend time reviewing other websites in preparation for a redesign. Make notes about elements you like and examples of websites that have the look and feel you hope to achieve with your redesign.
How do other organizations in your sub-sector organize their content?
What website platforms are they using?
What layout and style appeals to you?
What components do you like and what do you dislike and want to avoid?
Next, it's time to prioritize your content.
How to Prioritize Your Website Content
Is your content tailored to your audience or to all of the opinions of your board, leadership, donors, etc.? This can be a difficult question when we know requests are coming in left and right.
As your go-to nonprofit communications experts, we can guarantee you that content is king. What’s a pretty website without a good, clear story? It truly takes both.
A solid content strategy utilizes your nonprofit’s stories across channels, but the website should be the hub. This is your nonprofit’s digital home, where a solid About and Contact page is vital. Cover these bases first and make sure you’re able to keep these updated before committing to a blog or social media push.
And, if you already have a blog, this is the time to go through each post to see if the information is still relevant. Where could it use a refresh on SEO? Are you going through a rebrand and ready to change it all?
Integrate (and Share!)
Integrating your learnings is a vital part of preparing for a nonprofit website redesign. Distill your learnings down to include:
What will be the primary and secondary purposes of the new site?
What content will you keep from the current site?
What content needs to be removed, added or rewritten?
What is the overall look and feel you want to achieve with the redesigned site?
What are some examples of websites you like, for content and visual appeal?
You’ll also need to share these learnings with department leads to ensure they see your sleuthing and join the efforts to help set intentions for the new website.
Now, you're ready to start designing! Pull together a folder containing photos of your programs, have your brand guidelines ready, and get a web designer on your team.
We love working with nonprofits, and hope these tips helped clarify the website redesign process. Partnering with a consultant team like Think BIG means you have expert copywriters, marketers, thought leaders, and designers on your team. Contact us to start your website redesign this spring!