Non-profit organizations are often not large enough to hire a full-time web designer, but they still need high-quality, professional website designs. Without the money and time to hire an in-house website designer and developer, non-profit organizations turn to the internet for solutions.
Non-profits are often on the lookout for the right web design company to help them get the most out of their website and digital marketing. Non-profits want a reliable partner they can trust with their mission.
You need a team who is capable and knowledgeable, but also affordable, friendly, and approachable.
It’s important to choose an agency that not only meets this criteria, but also uses technology that is up-to-date, and follow industry standards and design trends.
This blog will provide you with 7 steps to choose the best web design agency for your non-profit. To guide you through this process, we’ve compiled a list what to look for when choosing a web design agency for your non-profit organization.
How To Choose a Web Design Agency for Your Non-profit
- Do your research
- Do your due diligence
- Understand what you need and what your vision is
- Ensure they understand the unique NPO needs in specific areas, such as search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization, and content management.
- Be open to suggestions
- Choose a web design company that has expertise in non-profits and charities
- Select an experienced team, composed of project managers, developers, and designers who can handle your project and have the skills to reflect your brand.
- Find out what time zone the agency is based in so you know how long it will take to reach them when you need them to work on your project.
- Gain insight into their pricing by asking about their rates for different services like website design, logo development, digital marketing campaigns, etc.
- Expect a long-term relationship, not just one project
Planning Is Essential
Planning is key when choosing a web design agency. You want to make sure you are selecting the right agency for your needs, and that they will be able to meet your expectations.
Plan what you want from your website and what you want to accomplish with it. For example, if you’re looking for a company that specializes in easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS), start by identifying what your needs are.
Go through a discovery workshop to clearly outline your needs, personas, strategies, and tactics. Let that be your guiding star.
You should also determine how much money you have to spend on the project and how long it will take to complete. Next, research companies in your home city or area so you know who’s available, who’s reputable and who has experience building websites like yours.
Once you have a list of potential vendors, use this time to talk with them about their services and figure out whether they meet your needs and budget. You’ll also want to see samples of their work in order to see what their designers can do. You’ll need to ask about the company’s internet presence, social media presence and contact information so that you can reach out if needed.
But… Don’t Over Plan
How many times do you find yourself in a meeting and not knowing why there’s yet, another, meeting?
Figure out what you want to do and achieve as those are key ingredients to success. It’s equally important to take steps forward and not over plan. Having meetings upon meetings upon meetings, will lead to the project taking longer to get started, which will end up leaving donor dollars going to other organizations.
Get started today, and just take some kind of action.
A trusted agency will have their processes and will ask the right questions to help guide you along the way. You’re an expert in what you do, and if you find the right agency to partner with, they’ll be the experts in what they do.
1. What Do You Need The Website To Do?
Determining the functional requirements is critical to getting a website that will deliver results.
- Do you want a website with a searchable program and services offering?
- Do you want users to be able to create accounts?
- Do you need a secured staff/employee/volunteer section?
- Do you want to add payment gateways for donation or integrate a 3rd party donation platform?
- Do you want to have online auctions?
- Do you have plans for email marketing?
- Do you need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integrated, such as Keela?
- Do you want to sell something to raise funds?
- The Top 6 Digital Marketing Projects Your Non-Profit Should Budget For in 2022
You should determine all those aspects before searching for a web designer.
2. How to Choose the Right Web Design Agency
- Know your budget
- Research the agency’s work with nonprofits
- Do you feel comfortable with them?
- Choose a an agency that can deliver design that is attractive and appropriate for your nonprofit’s mission
- Work with an agency that offers digital marketing services
- Work with an agency that offers development services
- Work with an agency that uses industry-standard technology and trends
- How long have they been servicing the NPO sector?
- Review and consider how they handle post-launch support and maintenance
- Ask for references, and contact them
3. The Importance of Good Communication
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a web design company for your non-profit is good communication. When thinking about how communication will work with your chosen agency, it’s important to remember that your job as the client is to make sure you’re getting what you need from them. And when it comes to web design, this means being able to communicate clearly and succinctly with your chosen agency.
A good web design agency will be able to handle everything from the initial inquiry, through customer service and web design and development, without skipping a beat. They should be able to provide the level of customer service that you need for your non-profit organization.
The best way to assess this level of communication is when you’re meeting with them. Meet with them a few times so you can best gauge this. If they’re unable to answer your questions, if they seem disinterested in your business or even rude, then that’s a sign that it may not be the right time for you to work with them.
The agency should also offer transparent pricing throughout their process of designing and developing your website so that there are no surprises at the end of the project when it comes down the proposal. Speaking costs, be upfront with the agency from the start about your budget. That will allow the agency to customize deliverables to meet your level of budget.
The cheapest price isn’t always the way to go – it will likely cost you more in the long run.
4. Does the Company Specialize In Non-Profits?
This is the most important thing to consider when choosing a web design company for your non-profit. An agency that specializes in creating websites for nonprofits will be highly familiar with your organization’s mission, values, and goals. They’ll know how to work with you and what you need from them.
They will also have a better understanding of how to reach your target audience and create the website that resonates with them best, and can get you more website traffic, subscribers, volunteers, and ultimately, donations.
Check our other article: 7 characteristics of a professional non-profit website designer
It’s important to find a company that knows the ins and outs of charities and non-profits.
If an agency doesn’t specialize in non-profits, it might not be able to provide the service you need at the right price point or they may not have enough knowledge about your industry. It would be like asking a plumber to fix your car engine. Sure, they might have some knowledge, but taking it to an auto mechanic is your best bet.
5. Does the Company Follow Web Standards?
One criterion for choosing a web design agency is whether or not the company follows web standards. Web standards are a set of rules that are followed by designers to create websites that are accessible and user-friendly. Web standards promote clarity, minimize clutter, and improve navigation.
As a non-profit, it’s important that your website is compliant with industry standards and that your design follows current trends.
The goal of web standards is for all websites to be accessible by screen readers, search engines, and other technologies that allow people with disabilities to browse the internet easily.
If you’re website isn’t compliant, you’re not servicing your community.
Web standards also play a key role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The more effective your website is at using web standards, the more successful it will be at ranking in search engines like Google. A website with good layout, content, and adherence to web standards will rank higher on Google than one without these attributes.
6. Importance of Ongoing Support and Maintenance
The most important factor in choosing a web design agency for your non-profit organization is to make sure that the company offers ongoing support and maintenance. This includes being able to provide updates, suggestions and ideas for new website or digital marketing strategies.
If a web design agency doesn’t offer this, it sends the signal that they’re not committed to their work.
If you need help with finding and evaluating a web design agency, these are some key factors to consider when it comes to post-launch activities and support:
- Do they provide training so you can take ownership over daily updates?
- Does the company have a team of designers and developers?
- Do they have a formal package or are they winging it?
- Do they have a support portal and feedback mechanisms?
- Can you pick up the phone and get a human in case of emergency?
- How much support do you need?
- What’s their rate?
- What other work has the company done that they can do for you?
How Much Support Do You Require?
Depending on your knowledge and technical savvy, you may need support in various forms. Some clients need support to configure a new email address while others need assistance related to complex tasks. Also, you might need some changes to your nonprofit website every now and then.
You should verify if the respective web design agency is ready to provide the kind of support you may need.
On the other hand, a good web agency might offer you a range of tools and training. With the help of those tools, you can make changes without necessarily asking for help. So, check if the chosen agency is ready to offer those tools as they save plenty of time for both parties.
7. Your Website Isn’t One And Done
As a non-profit, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for your new website to be ready. You need to put it online as soon as possible. In order to meet this deadline, it is important to choose a web design agency that has the technology and skills needed to put your website online quickly and reliably.
In order to continue to deliver value and ROI, there is a need to continue to update and add content to the website over time.
Some things to consider are:
- How easy will your new website be to manage?
- Are there any ways that you can save time by automating parts of the site?
- Are you just creating a website or are you creating a digital strategy and the website is just part of that?
- How are you going to continue to attract new organic website visitors over time?
- Does the agency provide ongoing strategy to help you achieve your goals?
As you can see, choosing the right kind of web design agency for your non-profit can be quite a challenge because there are a lot of aspects to consider before selecting.
Start by identifying what your current struggles are, and have open, honest conversations with a few non-profit focused vendors.
There is no hard and fast rule in choosing a web design agency for your nonprofit. However, having a good idea about the above-mentioned aspects can help you end up with one of the best fit for you.
You’ve got this!