With a rapidly changing industry, nonprofit marketers and organizations have needed to become more effective and efficient in their strategy and implementation. Changes are occurring so quickly that 89 percent of nonprofit marketers have already changed their digital engagement strategy in the last year.
At the end of last year, we examined how to prepare an organization's website to be effective in this shifting landscape by focusing on intuitive navigation, building clear calls to action, planning around responsive design, and simplifying donation pages. Read more about last year's website trends.
As we enter 2022 and the dawn of our third year in the pandemic, digital marketers, data analysts, and developers in the nonprofit sector have noticed many growing trends in building impactful websites that inspire action and change. With rapidly evolving environments, it's more important than ever to leverage these insights across the three key areas of website planning and execution: functionality, design, and strategy.
Integrate Social Media
According to the Giving Report, 29 percent of people consider social media to be the communication tool that most inspires giving. To ensure that website visitors are able to easily connect with your organization, integrate your social media onto your website. This integration can be as simple as including links to your accounts, typically in the footer of the site, but also sometimes included in the header or body of the page. The TechSoup website, for example, uses a unique design of social media icons on the sidebar of its landing pages.
Use Top-Rated Content Management Systems
Arguably the most important aspect of determining your website's sustained success, scalability, effectiveness, and adaptability, is the content management system (CMS) on which it is built. A CMS, simply put, is the platform used to build and manage your website, in an easy-to-use interface that typically doesn't require much coding knowledge. The leading CMS of developers around the world is WordPress, which 58 percent of nonprofits use, according to the Open Data Project by Nonprofit Tech for Good. Using a leading CMS solution such as WordPress has the following benefits:
- It's easy to use for administrators, with no coding required.
- Search engines prefer it to help your organization appear higher in search results.
- Design is fully customizable to adapt to trends and improve over time.
- You can improve functionality with an incredible selection of plug-ins and integrations.
Looking to build a site on WordPress? TechSoup's Web Services team is here to help.
There has been growing scrutiny over website security over the last decade as cyberattacks, malware, and phishing attacks have begun plaguing the web. The first step in securing your website is to add an SSL certificate to your site. Not sure if your site has one? Sites with SSL certificates will have HTTPS in front of their domain instead of HTTP. Ensuring that your site is secure benefits your organization in three ways:
- Securing your website will help to reduce potential attacks from outside forces, spam, and other malicious activity.
- A secure site will promote trust in your visitors. This is extremely important as those visitors should feel comfortable giving you their information or even making a donation.
- Secure sites rank higher in search engines. Google has included HTTPS as a ranking factor since 2014.
Security preferences are expected to continue to be prioritized as tech companies and government agencies seek to enhance data and privacy protections across the web in the coming years.
Use Modern, Minimalist Design
While minimalist-designed websites are not a trend new to 2022, we believe that this is an important consideration for anyone looking to redesign their site or build a new website in the near future. Adhering to a minimalistic design can support engagement by enhancing the user experience, improving navigation, and increasing conversions. These are four key elements to keep in mind when thinking about minimalist design:
- Use of negative space: Manipulates user flow and directs the visitors' eyes where you intend.
- Large and vivid photography: Makes more of a lasting impression.
- Simple typography: Don't overwhelm the visitor and stick to no more than two fonts
- Contrasting colors: Bring attention to specific elements and help create a recognizable visual hierarchy.
The use of gradient colors has been a growing trend in the last few years in digital design and websites. Color gradients are the gradual blending of two or more colors that adds depth to any design. This design feature was big in the 1990s and early 2000s, but it was ultimately replaced with flat coloring up until 2018 when the pendulum started to swing back. There are five types of color gradients to choose from, but we recommend not mixing more than one type on a single web page. These gradient types are linear, radial, conic, diamond, and reflected.
Feature Images and Video
Whether or not you seek to implement a minimalist design, images and videos can serve as a major driver of action and change. Increasingly, people have become overwhelmed with digital messaging. The response has been a growing preference across demographics for video, image, and audio content, rather than long words or text. Creating powerful images that demonstrate your impact on the communities you support is an effective way to evoke emotion, inspire action, and drive change.
Plan for Diverse Audiences
Many organizations serve very different purposes for different target audiences or potential website visitors. Strategizing your home page to quickly direct diverse audiences to the section of the site intended for them is important to retaining those visitors and ensuring success. For example, if the goal of your website is to both attract and convert funders and donors but also provide services and resources to the community your mission ultimately serves, you will need to keep both of those goals in mind.
The TechSoup Services team, which provides custom website development, recently solved this problem for a client with many diverse audiences by featuring large CTAs to direct each of their four target audiences to the pages they need. Reducing the number of clicks for the user to find what they are looking for reduces page jumps, leads to happier constituents, and increases your search engine ranking.
The trend with the most potential for a big industry shakeup is the use of digital platforms, such as member portals, to build a network and community online. A member portal, or intranet portal, is a web application designed for members of an organization to get easy access to important information. Increasingly, organizations have leveraged these portals not only to communicate with their members but also to promote new membership, increase collaboration, demonstrate value to funders, and drive sustainable behavioral change.
Member portals can contain any information pertinent to your organization, including meeting minutes, event information, contact information, and more. The real innovation comes in when using these systems for wider organizational adoption. Organizations can build out portals that collect and disseminate volunteering information, event registration, live event collaboration and discussion, general discussion boards, industry news, and more.
Interested in building a member portal for your organization? Fill out this form to discuss your project with a member of the TechSoup Web Services team.
Optimize for Interaction
With fewer opportunities to interact with your constituents in person, creating multiple channels for online communication is imperative to building community and support for your organization and mission. A great way to encourage real-time communication is by integrating a live chat feature onto your website. You can also embed contact forms for supporters to ask you to reach out to them if real-time communication is unrealistic for your administrative team. Both of these features can be accomplished for free with the platform HubSpot, which is a cutting-edge customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Prioritizing an effective website strategy, enhanced design, and premier functionality is the quickest way to grow your organization's membership, funding, and supporters. Whether your website needs a quick update or a complete overhaul, TechSoup Web Services is here to help.
- Read about 8 Ways Successful Nonprofits Utilize Their Website.
- Take a TechSoup course on Web Design Best Practices.
- See a webinar on How to Develop a Nonprofit Website Strategy for the Road Ahead.
- Consider How to Choose a CMS for Your Nonprofit.
Top photo: Shutterstock