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Great website design keeps people online!
Driving people to your website is just half the battle; once they’re there, you must ensure that your website design invites them to stay a while. The longer someone is on your site, the better your odds are of converting them from an online visitor to a supporter.
This is what we call a “sticky” website. The longer you can get visitors to browse around, the better on two fronts: One, they’re more likely to take some sort of action (which hopefully leads to a donation), and two, your “average time on page” stats will be better, which tells Google and other search engines that your website is a valuable source of information—and that leads to more traffic.
Creating a sticky site doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor; in fact, several small moves can add up to a big impact. Let’s look at 10 of them you can start implementing right away.
Ten strategies and website design best practices that will improve your bounce rate:
1. Incorporate videos into your website design.
People love them, and if you include a video on your homepage that features people talking about your mission, what you’ve been up to lately, or introducing the people behind your brand, this is a surefire way to get people to stick. Just don’t make it a movie—save that for Netflix. Try to keep it around 1-3 minutes, then give viewers a call to action at the end (sign up for our newsletter, donate now, volunteer, etc.).
2. Have the functionality that your visitors need in order to engage with you.
If they want to make a donation, can they do that right there on your website without having to go to a third-party payment platform? If they want to register for an event, can they complete the whole process without having to leave? Incorporating tools and features that engage and empower your visitors will significantly improve your bounce rate.
3. Make your CTAs (calls to action) clear and easy to find.
“Donate Now.” “Sign Up for Our Newsletter.” “Volunteer for an Event.” “Become a Member.” There’s no question with any of these CTAs what you want a donor to do or how you want them to respond. Sometimes we get shy or nervous about making a straightforward ask, but online visitors are busy and movin’ and groovin’, and you have to be clear and compelling in order to capture their attention. Don’t beat around the bush or make things confusing.
4. Be sure your website design is mobile-friendly.
With so much online traffic coming from mobile users these days, your website design must be adaptable to a smartphone or tablet. If it isn’t, don’t expect people to stick around—the days of clumsy pinching and zooming around an awkward website on a mobile device are over. People will leave if your website doesn’t play nicely with small screens.
5. Keep your content fresh.
If you have a blog, create a content calendar and stick to it, ensuring that your blog is regularly updated with new, valuable content that is useful and original. This signals to both your visitors and search engines that someone is at work delivering value to the people who visit your site. Learn more about creating an effective content plan with our article on editorial calendars.
6. Use clear headlines and short blocks of text to keep your web content scannable.
Long paragraphs of text are a big turn-off; ain’t nobody got time for that. Communicate with smart headlines, short paragraphs (think 2-4 sentences), easy-to-read text boxes and quick blurbs.
Rarely will people read everything on your website word-for-word; most people scan. Break up your content so it’s easy for people to get the gist of who you are and what you do by scanning.
7. Use social proof or testimonials.
This is a great way to up your street cred, because people love to hear from other people about your org. Are you trustworthy with integrity and transparency? Let a current donor tell them. Do you fundraise ethically? Let a loyal supporter say so. Are you accomplishing your mission with the money you raise? Use a testimonial from someone you’ve served. Let others speak about your organization in order to give it credibility and keep people browsing around your website, hoping to learn more about you and the people who support your cause.
8. Keep your navigation simple.
If I have to click around too much in order to get where I want to go, yikes—I’ll just leave before I get there, because like it or not, we’re a nation of short attention spans and low patience. It’s important that your website design is clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate so that your visitors can get from point A to point B in just a few clicks.
9. Evaluate your website load time.
Does it take a minute for your full website to appear, while your visitor is tapping their fingers impatiently on their desk? You have basically three seconds to convince someone that your website is worth sticking around for. Not only do people expect speed today, but they make lightning-quick decisions, and if your website is taking too long to load, they’re likely to bounce away just as quickly as they landed. There are several tools you can use to evaluate your website’s load time, or you can talk to one of our website experts for a quick eval, as well.
10. With every website design decision, keep your end user in mind.
Too often our website design decisions reflect our personal preferences instead of what appeals to the general public. We highlight our accomplishments and showcase our talents and give ourselves a big ol’ digital pat on the back. It’s wonderful to tell the world about the great things you’re doing—but be sure that you’re touting the good stuff on a website that’s been created and built for the people who are interested in supporting your nonprofit, not for your staff, your board, your leadership, etc.
Here’s the TLDR version:
In the end, you want to captivate and engage potential supporters, volunteers, members, constituents and anyone else who wants to come alongside you to further your cause and accomplish your mission—these are the people who deserve a website that’s built to enable and empower them.
To discover more tips and tricks about website development, storytelling, online fundraising and other marketing topics, check out our weekly webinar schedule here.