Website WOW: Websites Outta this World!

Whether you’re promoting, communicating, starting a conversation or providing educational resources, your website has unlimited potential. Concentrate on making your organization’s online experience worthwhile, and users will keep coming back for more!

First impressions
Your organization’s website is likely the first stop for most prospective donors, community leaders and potential employees, so it needs to make a good impression.

According to a Canadian research team, visitors develop a subconscious opinion of a website in less than a second of viewing your home page!(1) Another study found that users decide within just two to three seconds if the information they see is relevant.(2)

So, what you say and how you say it isn’t just important, it’s critical to your organization’s goals and success.

Easy navigation
While visual appeal is essential, clear site navigation is really the most important element of an effective website. Site navigation refers to the pathways visitors use to get from one portion of your site to another. Navigation must be intuitive and easy to use. Here are some quick tips:

  • Develop a consistent format for all pages so visitors can easily anticipate where to look for information or navigation. Main navigation features displayed vertically on the left or horizontally on the top are now the most common solutions.
  • Make information accessible in just a few clicks. Information buried deep in a site is less likely to be read. Likewise, use a maximum of seven links on the main navigation bar.
  • Incorporate headers, subheads and bullets to allow visitors to easily scan for the information they are seeking.

Foster communication
Social media has taken the Internet by storm because it promotes two-way conversation, and direct dialogue and instant communication.

  • Include RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds of your organization’s news on your home page. It allows your stakeholders and customers to subscribe and learn what’s happening at a moment’s notice via automatic notifications.
  • Consider blogging (and read our Blue PaperSM on it, too). While it can be time-intensive, it allows for immediate commentary and feedback from your stakeholders. It is also an easy and inexpensive way to float an idea to your customers or keep people updated about your organization.

Get people talking about your organization’s website, and it will promote the readership of your RSS feeds and blogs. Hand out Business Card Message Magnets that showcase your logo, web address and the site’s newest features to service organizations, local businesses and community leadership.

Build community
Your website can also be a place to build community and draw a broad base of visitors. Sections like these appeal to a variety of stakeholders:

  • Photo galleries
  • “In the news” clips
  • Volunteer and donor-related pages

Enhance ambassadorship by allowing volunteers to contribute content and update your site. Recognize contributors by presenting them with logo’d fleece jackets or insulated coolers.

The other community organizations you work with will also benefit from your website. Encourage them to use your information as a resource tool. Desk calculators and letter openers with your site’s address are a great way to market your company and say “Thank you” for their efforts on your behalf.

Updates are Keyng
Before you add any new feature, make sure you have the resources to keep it current. If visitors find your blog or activity calendar is out of date, they’ll stop checking. Plus, sites that get regular updates rank higher in search engine results.

Use your website to provide useful, current information that visitors can rely on. Good communication fosters goodwill, and that benefits everyone!

(1)First Impressions Count for Web. BBC News. Monday, 16 January 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4616700.stm.

(2)Comminicate Quick First Impressions Through Visual Design. Weinreich & Herder 2006 Study. October 1, 2008.
http://www.uie.com/articles/communicate_quick/.
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