Kelley Jarrett is Guide Creative's market manager. Guide Creative is Blackbaud's design agency.

This week, Guide Creative presented a whole series on the most important elements of web design and visual strategy.

If you missed it, read on about creating and designing a successful, engaging website that inspires action.

Audience Analysis

Different groups of people who make up your audienceCreating a website with your users at the center of your strategy will get their attention, keep their interest, and inspire more action.

Read Andrew's blog post, which explains more about the importance of analyzing your audience.  

There are a few steps to successful audience-centric design:

Identify your audience: Understand all of the groups you serve and find out what makes them tick.

Test your current site: Use online or onsite usability testing to learn what information your users look for on your website and how easy it is for them to find it.  Assign them key tasks and document results.

Create personas and outline tasks: Create a sample persona that represents each audience group you serve.

Define user habits, outline behavior, document social activity, note their tendency to be tech savvy (what percentage are using a mobile platform, etc.), and identify their top three tasks on your site.

Prioritize messaging: Find commonalities in tasks across audience groups and put them in order of importance.

Make sure you remember your top three goals to include in key visual elements on your site using calls to action.

View the session recording or download the slides to learn more.

Create a Visual Strategy

A piece of a wireframeWireframes:  Wireframes take your website from subjective to objective.

They give you a way to prioritize content based on what resonates with your audience so that you can reduce the noise (see Ben's blog post on the importance of prioritization through wireframes).

Information architecture: Everyone accesses information on your website differently. By going through card sorting activities with your audience groups, you will be sure to create an intuitive navigation and content flow that makes sense to your users.

Create a content strategy: Don't forget to plan your content strategy!

There are free tools that can help you identify broken links, inaccessible pages, and content most and least viewed. Use this valuable information to plan your content's future.

View the session recording or download the slides from this session to learn more.

Engaging Visual Design

You know your audience. You've prioritized your content. You have a site map that resonates with the way your audience accesses information.

Now it's time for the magic. Beautiful visual design must be built on top of a solid strategy in order for it to engage and inspire your audience.

Good visual design includes strong imagery, stewardship, and real stories of impact. And it clearly demonstrates your mission and focus through simple, concise visual cues.

Remember, your website is not just a pretty picture. It should inspire action!

View the session recording or download the slides for this session to learn more.

Test Your Visual Story

A collage of imagesNow it's time to see how well you did. Use qualitative measures (surveys, interviews, and onsite usability testing) to understand how the new website resonates with key audience groups.

Do they find it easy to navigate? Engaging?  Inspiring?

Then, you can use Google Analytics to start understanding trends — how long are users spending on your website? What's the bounce rate?

How are they accessing information and what's the most and least popular content? And don't forget about search engine optimization.

All of this valuable information will help you shape your content and continually improve your online presence.

Remember — web design is an evolution and does not have a start and a finish. Make your website a priority and you'll be rewarded with happy, engaged users and will ultimately grow a more supportive community!

View the session recording or download the slides for this session to learn more.

Need Our Help?

If you’re interested in learning more about how Guide Creative can help your organization realize your online goals, feel free to email us directly or attend one of our upcoming webinars.

We’re hosting three virtual events that will show you how we can help guide your organization to achieve more effective web strategy and design. Learn more and register.

Not ready for a new and improved website but want to stay in touch? Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we’ll post future events, tips, and tricks for nonprofit branding and design.

We'd love to hear from you! Share your ideas, tips, recommended reading, questions, or feedback here.

Top image: Different members of an audience (Guide Creative)

Middle image: A piece of a wireframe (Guide Creative)

Bottom image: A collage of photos and other images (Guide Creative)