Optimizing your website doesn’t always mean a complete redesign. This was the topic of a recent session at the PA Museum Conference and we know this is an issue for nonprofits and other cultural institutions. So in this blog post we’ll share what we learned and explore some strategies on how to make small changes to your nonprofit website that will deliver BIG results.
First and foremost, clean up the industry jargon on your site! Talk to people in regular terms. There is no need to use org speak or technical terms that only someone in your industry would know! It’s not impressing patrons, it’s just confusing them.
What's the right order for your navigation?
People are there to find show dates and times, buy tickets to an event, make a donation, and to find contact information, so make sure they can easily do that! (Contact information should be located on the top or bottom of your home page) Horizontal navigation in the top right hand corner is prime real estate. Make sure you have no more than six options in the navigation bar, this eliminates confusion. Due to English readers reading left to right, we see the first and last navigation button more predominantly. If we were to rate a navigation bar from left to right this is how it would break down in percentages. [90% | 70% | 50% | 30 % | 40% | 60% | 80%] As you can see, the closer we get to the center of the navigation bar, the less likely we are to pay attention to it. The “serial position effect,” Google it, it’s a real thing!
Our Solution: Put the least important navigation elements in the middle and the ones you want your audience member to pay the most attention to on the ends (or close). In the example of the Barnes’ site, their navigation is positioned to the right. The outer links are the most visible and as you move to the center of the nav bar the links naturally become less noticeable to the viewer.
How to best utilize Image Carousels on your website?
Implementing this tactic has become quite popular for website home pages they seem like a great way to share amazing imagery of your organization and show off all the things you can do with multiple messages! However, that same thing can also lead to the downfall of your website. With each message on the images changing every time the slide changes, it can be tough for visitors to keep up. Which for you, means many of your messages will go completely unseen.
Our Solution: To prevent this from happening, we recommend using one consistent message across all images. This gives your viewers a chance to read what you are trying to tell them. It can be your organization's mission statement, a special event, or just something that you would like people to know about your organization. Keep it consistent. It’s ok if the image changes, by all means, show off that fantastic photography! Just keep the message the same so people actually get a chance to read it before the slide flips to the next image.
In this example for Longwood Gardens, their site uses a video with multiple images, same principle as the multi image carousel, in this case the messaging stays the same as the images change “Spring Blooms”
Where should you place your most import content in your page layout?
While evaluating your pages, remember information that loads on the top of the page gets the most views. This is called “above the fold” or “above the scroll”. A term that was borrowed from the newspaper industry referring to the information above the fold of a page near the top half of the newspaper.
Another great tip is not to make the columns too wide! Make it comfortable for your readers. Break up long bodies of text with images. This will help your pages flow better and keep your viewers more interested. Make sure your “call to action” is clear and noticeable on the page.
The example below shows an “F” pattern that is produced by heat tracking software, like crazyegg.com. Notice most of the attention is being paid at the top of the page and decreases as the user moves down the page.
Why do you need Google Analytics for your website?
We can’t stress enough how important it is to utilize this FREE service! Google Analytics is an amazing tool that's easy to install and use. It allows you to view who is visiting your website, when they are visiting, and on what type of devices. This will help you better understand your target market and make sure your website matches their needs!
Be sure to check out these results in Google Analytics:
• All Pages - Ranking of the most viewed pages
• Behavior flow
• Referrals for social
• Demographic data
With these simple changes to your website you can dramatically improve the user experience for your audience without a costly redesign. These modifications are simple and practical ways to keep your audience coming back to your site for the information they need. To prove that it’s working track your results on Google Analytics, the numbers don’t lie. If you find yourself in need of assistance to implement these changes we’re happy to evaluate your site and help you make the necessary changes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org