When you’re making the case for a nonprofit website redesign, it’s not enough to just know it’s time. To convince someone to allocate resources to a major website overhaul for your organization, you must make a clear case for why.
That nagging sense of dread every time your homepage loads is a good clue that something may need to change. Even if your nonprofit’s website objectively sucks, it still might not be a good time for a redesign. That’s just the reality of working on a small team with a small budget.
Here are some tips for determining whether it’s time for a redesign, or if you can work with what you have.
Is your website working for your mission?
In a previous post, I provided a guide for determining how well your website is working for your mission. This is a great place to start with an overall evaluation of your site’s effectiveness.
Working your way through these questions can help you clearly define major issues that might point to a need for a redesign; conversely, it might help you identify some easy wins that can make a big difference without much investment.
Is your website working for you?
This is a key consideration in whether to stay the course or cut your losses. Often the shortcomings of an organization’s website are a symptom of less than functional maintenance systems.
How is your content management system?
Can you actually edit your website? I know, this seems like a ridiculously low bar to clear. However. This is the nonprofit industry we’re talking about.
I recently spoke with a nonprofit leader who, when I pointed out that a sign-up link to his e-newsletter was broken, told me he had to call “his guy” out of state to edit the URL. Sure, you may need to call in outside help for complex issues or major changes, but if you don’t have internal control of your content, you’re working at a serious disadvantage.
Even if you do have editing power, maybe it’s on some dated content management system and every time you try to insert a photo, the typeface gets all weird, or you have to do a bunch of coding to maintain any semblance of consistent formatting. (I’m speaking from experience, and not too distant experience, at that.)
How much of a mess do you have to clean up?
In my last post, I shared a content auditing tool to help you systematically tackle every page of your website. However, if your content is really off-brand, out of date, poorly written and disorganized, it may be a better use of your resources to redesign and recreate it all at once.
Where does your website fit into your overall priorities?
Do you have room in your budget for a redesign? (Don’t say no just yet.)
While it’s easy to spend big bucks on a new website, your redesign doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Other approaches can work well for small organizations if you can find the right people and take a pragmatic approach.
What else is happening right now?
I’ve been a victim of my own magical thinking more times than I can count (usually this applies to how much laundry I think I can get done in one day). Don’t set yourself up for failure–if your workload can’t accommodate a website redesign right this second, consider when it would make more sense and work your way toward a truly actionable plan in the meantime.
How important is your website, really?
I know that seems like a ridiculous question to ask in 2019, but hear me out: Maybe you have a really active Facebook group and a tight-knit community that rarely, if ever, needs your website. Maybe you’re a direct service provider with a population that doesn’t use the internet all that often. I’m not suggesting you shut down your website and relinquish your domain, but maybe an inexpensive, minimalist website could suit your needs just fine (for now.)
Making the call and making the case for your nonprofit website redesign
Through these questions, you can come to one of three conclusions.
- It’s time for a redesign. Your website is too dysfunctional and its role in your organization is too important to ignore, and you can reasonably allocate enough resources to invest in a new website.
- A redesign would be nice, but can’t be a priority right now. In this case, planning an ongoing content audit and identifying easy wins in your existing site can be a good stopgap until you get to that point.
- Your website is working well, and you can build on that strong foundation.
It’s a choose your own adventure ending. Stay tuned for more tips no matter which path you take.