Who doesn't need an improved website? If you suspect that your website is falling short, Idealware has created a free workbook to help you figure out if your website is doing what you need it to do.
I like this workbook. It has 10 easy-to-follow worksheets that help you evaluate your website and figure out how to make necessary improvements. Download the free workbook here.
As your humble writer and a guy who looks at lots of charity websites every day, here are 10 telltale signs I've noticed.
1. You find yourself apologizing more and more to people about your site.
2. Your site looks old or amateurish if you compare it with other charity websites.
3. Your site is one page.
4. Your website loads so slowly that you have time to check your messages.
5. You can't update your own content.
6. Your website doesn't work on all the major browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari (in that order).
7. Your website's "About" section doesn’t exist or doesn't tell your story clearly and make it easy for people to contact you. This should perhaps be my number one in this list.
8. You enter basic search terms (like your organization's name) in any search engine and your website doesn't come up easily.
9. You're afraid to look at Google Analytics to find out how much actual traffic is coming to your website.
10. Your site doesn’t link to your social media pages and isn't mobile friendly.
First of all, this workbook doesn't require any IT expertise and you can probably go through it in as little as an hour. A third of the worksheets ask really good basic questions, such as:
I think one of the cleverest worksheets is the one about which content management system (CMS) to use. A CMS is a software tool that allows you to create and update your organization's online content, including text, images, a donate button, social media icons, writing a blog — everything. Recalling number five above, if you can't update your own website content, that's not good.
The CMS worksheet reveals whether you can get away with a simple CMS like Weebly or Wix at very low cost, or if you need to think bigger (and costlier). If the CMS worksheet doesn't give you enough information on which CMS to go with, you might have a look at Idealware's free in-depth Consumer's Guide to Content Management Systems for Nonprofits. Still not sure what a CMS is or why you need one? Check out this excellent CMS crash course.
Another little page I like in the workbook is the one on usability testing and soliciting user feedback. The page describes ways to do surveys and interviews, conduct focus groups, and do proper user testing.
There is another short page on navigating a site on mobile devices. It doesn't get into great detail about that increasingly important aspect of web design, so you might have a look at TechSoup's free online training on Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices and also Tierney Smith's excellent article: How to Make your Nonprofit Website Mobile-Friendly, compliments of TechSoup Canada.
If you're getting a little worried about whether your website is doing more harm than good for your organization, Idealware's Do You Need a New Website? is a pretty quick way to do an informed evaluation. Download the free workbook here.
Do you have more tips or signs that your website needs help? Please log in and tell us.
Image 1: Idealware
Image 2: somchai rakin / Shutterstock
Image 3: Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA
This is an excellent workbook. A+ material. In fact, I'm so proud of the information contained in this workbook that I wish my name was attached to it as a contributing author/consultant. It asks all the right questions and gets you to focus on all the right things to give you clarity and vision on your organization's website -- and where you need to make improvements. Every nonprofit can benefit from using this valuable tool. Well done!
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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