Create a Website for Your NGO in Five Simple Steps

Published September 21, 2017
Whether you're revamping your NGO's website or launching your first website, the trick is to equip your organization with a valuable tool without allocating too many resources to it. Through our experience working with NGOs, we've identified the steps to keep in mind to make the process simple and efficient, allowing you to attain your objective of having a site that helps your NGO fulfil its mission.

Clarify why a website is necessary in order to increase its effectiveness

Today, having a website is the norm, but that doesn't mean that it's easier to create one. In reality, a website is always the product of serious reflection; a “catch-all” site whose objective and structure have not been well thought-out will not result in increased visibility for your NGO or engage your audience as you'd hoped. What's more, not having a well-defined objective will cost you time later on since it will be more difficult to structure your site.

To set up a website that will truly help your NGO carry out its mission, take the time to clarify what you hope to accomplish with it. Do you want increased visibility for your NGO and its initiatives? Or, do you want to encourage donations or memberships? For example, if you're focused on the first objective, you'll spend a significant amount of time structuring the website and working on its content to climb in search engine rankings. If you want to attain the second objective, you'll invest in advanced features that will make your website transactional (meaning, visitors can make payments or donations online).

Keep your visitors in mind

This step will also have a positive impact on the quality of your website: An effective site is also a site where visitors can easily find what they're looking for. Once you've established the structure of your website, put yourself in your typical visitor's shoes and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is navigating the site easy and intuitive?
  • If I'm not familiar with the NGO and its website, can I easily find the information I’m looking for.
  • If I'm not familiar with the NGO and its mission, am I inspired to donate/subscribe/become a member? Is the information presented at the right time to convince me?
You must apply this way of thinking for every aspect of your site. For example: Are the forms too long and do they discourage people from completing them? Is the text easy to read? Are the “call to action” buttons visible and eye-catching?
In summary, to convince your visitor, it's not just about having attractive text and images – it's about creating a complete experience, down to the last detail. It's the famous “user experience.”

Refine your content, make it come alive and continuously improve your SEO score

A website will rank better in search engine results when it's considered “relevant” by the search engines. There are hundreds of factors that determine relevance, but some are easy to control and directly depend on your website's structure and content.

When planning your website's structure and preparing your texts, you should ensure that:
  • All of the essential information that positions your organization can be accessed easily, meaning, that it’s not hidden in submenus.
  • The keywords that position your NGO (and which visitors will type in the search bar to find you) should be located within the first 100 words on each page. Note that most of your website’s pages will contain less than 300 words. 
  • Your content is structured by titles that are marked as H1, H2 or H3. (If you use memboGo’s website application, note that you can do this in the content editing box.) This allows you to tell search engines which information is important and where it should rank you
  • Regularly add new content to your site with the latest news or events, for example. It's very important to spend time maintaining your website after it has been set up, otherwise it will quickly become ineffective. (This can easily be done by automating the display of news, fundraisers or events with memboGo.)
There are many other tips that are easy to implement: for example, how you manage your images also impacts your ranking in search engines. This article explains how to optimize your images in memboGo.

Explore all of the technical possibilities to limit your costs

Revamping your website or even setting up your first website can quickly become expensive. Here are a few technical tips to consider in order to keep your costs down:
  • Consider using a CMS rather than having a customized site developed. Many types are available, either free or with fees, and with or without different features. memboGo has the advanced features necessary to create a transactional website for any type of NGO.
  • Use a template rather than a customized design.
  • Get your images and photos from free sites like http://www.freepik.com/ or https://pixabay.com/.
  • Connect your management software to your website to automate tasks and to reduce your daily management costs. You can do this with memboGo: for example, when someone makes a donation online, memboGo automatically enters the donor’s information into your database and sends a personalized tax receipt.

Leverage your website’s data

The data that your website collects can give you valuable information that will help you strategically develop your NGO.
For example: How do your visitors find you? Through social media or your partners’ websites? Your website's data can tell you so that you can concentrate on developing your social media presence or your partnership program to reach new audiences.
How many people visit your website on their smartphone? Should you make your website responsive (meaning, adapt it so that it can be easily viewed on a phone)? What are the most visited pages and therefore the ones that you should pay more attention to and where you should place more strategic information?

Many tools are available to help you answer these questions, but a basic tool that can provide you with most of this information is, of course, Google Analytics (free). If you use a memboGo website, you can link it to your Google Analytics account.

 
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