You want a new website for your nonprofit organization. That’s awesome! But before you get too far, how do you know that you really need a new website? We believe that a strong case for a new website should include both anecdotal evidence and data to back it up. And having a strong case for WHY you need a new website will help you advocate for funding, create a clear plan, and hire the right team to design and build the site. Here are four tactics you can use to determine if now is the right time for a new website.
Ask the Experts—Your Users
Market research is a great tool to determine how the outside world views your site. It can also be prohibitively expensive for many nonprofits. Instead of a big formal study, you can do some smaller things to gather similar information. Start by identifying a group of key stakeholders at your organization. They could be board members, community leaders, active followers on social media, or regular donors. Reach out to this group with personal emails or phone calls. Develop a series of questions to ask them about your site. As people who interact with your website regularly, they will have a clear understanding of what your organization is trying to do, and what your site makes easy or difficult. Another way to survey your current users it to implement a pop-up window with a two-question survey that simply asks, “What were you looking for on our website?” and “Was it easy or hard to find?”. While you won’t get all the details, the overall response will be telling.
Look Around You
Keeping up with the Joneses should not be the single determining factor in your decision to launch a new site. But it’s worth having a general idea of what other organizations around you offer. Think of it as staying competitive, without deviating from your brand and identity. If you start to see that other organizations in your space have sites that look much newer or offer functionality that you don’t have, it might be time to build a new site.
This is also helpful in starting the functional requirements for your new site. As you notice functionality, design elements, and tools that you like, begin to sort them into lists of ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have.’ At Firefly, whenever we work with a nonprofit partner, we lead a thorough discovery process to identify these needs and wants, but there’s no harm in having a head start.
Phone a Friend
It can also be helpful to talk to those who have almost no familiarity with your organization. Reach out to friends or family members who may know vaguely what you do but might not have a detailed picture. Give them tasks to complete on the site like “figure out what programing we offer” or “make a donation”. Interview them after and ask them to explain what your organization does based on their use of the site. Find out what was easy or hard about the task they were given. If people are having trouble completing key tasks, this can be a really important sign that it’s time for a new website. Use these specific pain points as evidence that there are places where your site can be improved.
Dive into Your Data
Fingers crossed you’ve got Google Analytics set up for your site. If you do, check out the Exit Page Report, which is one you might not visit all that often. This report shows you the last page in a user’s session, or where they decided to leave your site. There are a million reasons why someone might leave your site, but reviewing this report could reveal some insight if there’s a particular journey you are trying to lead someone on. If you notice a high exit rate midway through that journey, it may be indicative that the steps are not as clearly outlined as you intended.
These strategies will provide solid evidence that the time is right (or not) for a new website. If you’ve decided you’re ready, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help guide you through all the steps necessary to get your new site off the ground.