Does your nonprofit website suck? (Part 2: The Content)

While many NGOs have sites that are both beautifully designed and clearly communicate the organisation’s mission, there are many more that are just ill-conceived.  A consistent problem is the lack of effective content developed for the web. 


Where’s the content?

A great deal of time gets invested in the design, fussing over fonts and colours (something a good web developer should manage with your input, not the other way around). And somehow, little or no time is spent actually developing content. There are always ideas of what content should be placed on the site, yet no one manages to actually gather or produce the content. And when the content is produced, it is done so with no clear strategy in mind.

When you are planning your website strategy, think through the basics: 

  • Why do you have a website?

  • What are you trying to convey?

  • What do you want people to do with this information?

  • What is your call to action? 

Read your communications plan to determine what goals your website can support. Ideally, your communications plan should specifically address your e-communication needs. If you don’t have a communication plan for your organisation, stop worrying about your website until you have these basics in place.

Drowning in a sea of content

Of course, as big a problem as no content can be, too much content is also a problem, particularly when everyone in the organisation wants his or her programme or news item to be featured on the front page. When you try to highlight everything on one page, you highlight nothing. Keep your front page simple and to the point, and carefully choose what you want to highlight.

But it’s not just a problem on the front page. Your website does not have to include every single piece of information about your organisation.  You should have an internal information management system in your organisation to archive all your data. Your website is not your archive.

Appoint someone as your website content manager, and have them curate the content, ensuring that it is well balanced, edited for the web, and speaks to your overall communications strategy.

Make a decision about the life span of each article. Not everything that is useful and relevant today will still be useful and relevant next month or next year.

So what is it you do again?

NGO-speak. *Sigh*. I know it’s important to convey that your organization is engaged in capacity building and good governance and your SFSK programme preceded the ALSJD programme to build sustainability through a community of practice. But can you try to say that in English please?

Unless the audience for your website is limited to only other NGOs, you really need to ditch the jargon and explain what you do in language anyone can understand. This is particularly important if you’re hoping to raise funds via your website. No-one is going to contribute funds if they can't understand something as simple as 'what does your organisation do'? 

So, how does your website rate? Do you have a great design AND great content? Let us know! What are some of the things you find annoying about NGO websites? (Don’t worry; we’ll focus on some examples of great NGO websites soon too!)