Design trends change every year not just to entertain the digital world, but rather to meet changing demands of this tricky environment.
Today we will try to see if those trends can be applied to non-profit websites and whether you should take them into consideration when designing or promoting yours.
How can a website design really influence anything?
Website design and development is a complicated process that includes multiple stages and takes quite a time. Efficient design should always be based on a certain custom concept – the way you will see and use it after it is ready.
Usually, you take your idea to a non-profit web agency, then they put it down professionally, complete terms of reference, set objectives, and only then prepare actual design concepts, taking into consideration a million different factors. This stage already influences the impressions of your audience in advance.
When the design stage is completed, it’s time to turn a beautiful mockup into a working web platform. Properly chosen CMS, integrated modules & security features – all those elements will finally influence the usability level of your website.
How do you check if your website features a high level of usability?
There are 5 quality criteria that you should keep in mind. Just look at the website and decide if it is:
Easy to navigate.
Is the navigation clear and logical? Are there pop-ups, banners, or videos? If yes, then do they distract visitors?
How quickly can a visitor navigate your website and make desired actions?
This feature you can easily test this by showing your website to somebody who has seen it about a month ago. Can they remember how to find something they need? If yes, then your website is memorable.
– meaning, if there are mistakes. There should be no crucial mistakes, both functional & visual. Are there pictures that do not fit the screen or can’t load?
These criteria concern mainly the pleasure visitors feel when using your website. Is the content there interesting & well presented? Is it easy to find the necessary information? Does your website design follow your brand identity?
Importance of design trends for NPO websites and how to follow them
All the tendencies on how to design a website, both for businesses and non-profits, change all the time. Some websites tend to implement changes a few times per year to meet those tendencies, but non-profits can do it one time in order to stay in tune with web design trends.
It is important not simply to follow the trends but to implement changes that will be appreciated by your audience. It means that you, first, should follow the needs of your audience, constantly analyze them, and then use design trends that can cover those needs when implemented.
Your non-profit can have the most modern and professional design and stand out among others, but does it help you reach your objectives and complete your mission? Do people find what they need there? Does it convert visitors into donors or supporters? Those are the final goals of each change, be it visual or functional – not the eagerness to follow the trends.
When should you get down to your website design update?
You should think twice before implementing any changes if you have an important project going on, a big active crowdfunding campaign, or your platform is being promoted.
It will be better to ask for professional advice and consider both the negative and positive impacts the possible changes may have.
Some visitors might come when the website is under maintenance and think it doesn’t work anymore, some may think it has been hacked, while some can get lost with new changes and simply not know how to complete the desired action or find what they need.
Change your website when your organization’s needs require it – when you have a clear picture of your brand and completed brand identity. Then you will not even have a question about when to change something or if should you really do it or not – your NPO brand strategy will have it covered.
Trick of trends
There is never only one trend. If you see one general tendency, it means it’s really quite general – it doesn’t clearly and precisely describe only one certain element or style – there is always a possibility to implement it partly and creatively.
Usually, there are at least 5 trends that are targeted at different audiences. Choose the one you like and that can fit your non-profit brand, then use its desired elements and features to smoothly integrate them into your website design. Test it. Then leave it or rework it.
If you are running a thematic campaign, for example, promoting your project for Giving Tuesday, or crowdfunding a Christmas campaign, then special banners, videos, and thematic pages (including landing one for donors) really should be prepared in advance and smoothly integrated to visually and functionally support your activity.
In case you are running different activities, and they depend on different holidays, dates, and so on, then you might consider creating a dynamic design for your website to activate certain elements or sections when you need them without the need to implement sudden changes.
How do you improve the website features and have a trendy design?
Aesthetics covers both visual and functional matters, as it has been mentioned above. For the website design to be great, it should be directed at two things: your audience and your NPO objective. If you are publishing much content for your audience, then for your website, being trendy is being pleasantly and easily perceived visually.
Use less contrasted elements, choose neutral backgrounds, smooth transmissions.
If you are trying to create a trigger for your visitors. For example, to make an instant donation or sign up for your project as a volunteer, then your website should be visually captivating. Its goal is to capture and hold the attention of a visitor. Use bold fonts, when asking for not-very-big donations – bold lines make people think about considerably small amounts of money. Add bright, highly-contrasted buttons to be noticed both in desktop and mobile versions.
Creating separate landing pages for short-time projects and initiatives? Then consider experimenting with design as much as you want (or your designer). Trust a designer to implement trendy modern patterns and textures. Landing pages rarely contain too much information, and this info is quite similar – this is why you should make an accent on the visual side.
Control your taste. Your website is a marketing and technical tool for your communication with your audience. Don’t follow only your likes – follow the preferences of your audience!
Balancing innovations and traditions are another “must”. Your website can stay original or not but it should always reflect your organization, its principles, and its mission.
Concentrate on creating recognizable element(s). If a website contains too many different things (even if one by one they look great) then the final impression won’t be integral – human perception won’t completely correct impressions and associations with your organization.
Consider visual perception. Vision loss is a great problem. Most people do not use good monitors and devices. This is why a designer should pay special attention to the size and contrast level of the objects. How to check it? Each piece of text you can actually read should be enlarged by 20%. That’s the rule.
What’s the right process for designing a highly efficient NPO website
The work process is quite typical:
- Complete all necessary pre-project investigations (audience research, competitive analyses, branding & marketing strategies, etc)
- Form a website structure
- Create a concept
- Choose a color palette, fonts
- Design some drafts to include in the visual concepts of your website to make sure it fits your brand identity. It helps to create one in case you do not have designed it previously
- Complete website design page by page
- Adapt the design – it should look well on different devices
How do you affect visitors through visual elements?
This is a complicated matter – it depends both on the designer’s skills and ability to use correct tools, techniques, and approaches, and on how well you and your team understand your audience. Good understanding helps you send correct messages and makes sure the audience gets and understands them the way you need.
A website might contain many pieces of media. Then you should pay special attention to the optimization (adaptation) stage. People shouldn’t wait till the content is loaded, or they will just leave the platform.
The way you see your website in your head, on the drafts, and in the end, are rarely the same. Try to stay objective and let it adapt to the real environment. Another display, another perception – things may a bit different in the digital world.
The way a website of a non-profit organization looks directly affects how many supporters and donations this organization attracts. A typical user always pays attention to the design as it shapes the functional capacities of the platform, helps them navigate the website, as well as sends nonverbal-visual messages, affecting their impressions, actions, and choices.
Using a professional custom design, you are choosing a solid digital ground for your non-profit and increasing your chances not only to get noticed but to attract those who will help you make a difference. Respect your existing and potential community, so it would do the same!