Website strategies to consider
Thank you for the meeting today. I’m taking liberty to offer website content and design strategies to consider.
Content strategies are really engagement strategies. How do we get viewers to consume and engage. Fortunately, there is much written on this subject.
The first goal for your nonprofit site is to achieve a level of engagement where visitors are willing to hand over their hard-earned cash. So, you need to hold their attention by serving your audience with high-quality, dynamic content to consume. Build engagement from the bottom and the top.
1. Make staff accountable for creating great content with intent. It’s been my experience that very few Family Service staff consume site content. They rarely recommend edits and corrections.
2. Define and publish policy and purpose for content and get buy-in from all levels of management.
3. Publish and re-publish content in multiple formats and channels.
4. Create and maintain a “living” content calendar for staff to follow and give input.
5. Diligently and consistently, track website usage and make available to staff.
6. Offer staff incentives for keeping content current in subject matters on the website.
Plan and select a website theme that encourages and welcomes visitor interaction: blog, newsletter subscription, questions and answers, success stories, content comments.
1. Just ask.
2. Make it easy.
3. Show the why and impact.
4. Encourage action. “Just one day left to reach our goal!” “14 days, 23 hours, 6 minutes left to reach our goal.”
WordPress Theme Strategies
There are 3 parts to the Family Service website:
1. Hosting – GoDaddy.
2. Website Platform – WordPress
3. Theme – ThemeForest.
GoDaddy has held the agency domains for several years. GoDaddy has been the website hosting company for the past 4 years. The hosting subscription service provides SSL (Https://), nightly backups and the WordPress platform.
The Theme comes from ThemeForest. The theme is not even close to the original.
Theme Strategies to Consider
1. Responsive is not optional. It must work seamless with all devices.
2. Browser support. Must work on all browsers.
3. The real power of WordPress comes with WordPress plugins. While there are plenty of WordPress plugins, some are must-have WordPress plugins for every website. Like, an easy to use and supported page builder application within the WP theme along with free must have plugins like Yoast SEO, form builder, sliders, calendar, etc.
4. The theme must be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. A good looking theme can still generate poor code which can affect site performance on search engines like Google and Yahoo.
5. Ratings and reviews. How many of the specific theme has been sold and how is it rated.
6. Support options. Today, 100% of themes are supported online. WP developers are global, most of them in Europe and Asia. Theme developers provide support sites with login credentials where you create support tickets. It’s my experience that support desks in Europe and Asia are not open on weekends. So, it’s very important that support issues are articulated clearly and thoroughly first time around.
7. Translation and multilingual ready. Do you anticipate needing Spanish content?
8. Page builders. Developers add page builders and templates to their themes. Page builders make content creation and updates easy. Plus, page builders include design features for web pages. For example, page sidebars, social media channel feeds, picture galleries, etc. Most themes include page templates.
I now use the Avada Theme which is currently the #1 ThemeForest theme sold globally with 441,000 active sites. It’s popular because of the page builder – Fusion. Even with this many active sites, there are most likely not even 2 sites alike. The ability to add and update content is user-friendly. But the ability to change design is just as friendly.
When I started with the Family Service theme, the page builder was hard coded but simple and easy to use. I eventually selected a paid for page builder – Elementor Pro – to break the theme code and force changes as requested. Elementor is a young page builder but very easy to use and well supported. Several new themes now include the free version of Elementor. Two other popular and well supported page builders are Beaver Builder and Page Builder by Site Origin.
9. Documentation and show-me. Check theme documentation. Go to YouTube and search for theme videos.
I’m in this with you. We can find the right theme.
One last note. Personal opinion. It has been Family Service’s practice to have all content generate in the communications and marketing office. Staff are not fully engaged in content. It’s my opinion that staff need to be responsible for their subject matters which would flow up to the communications and marketing office.
Currently, the static content looks very corporate. All sites will have some static content. Donors look for proof points. They look for success stories, how dollars are put to work and current activities and funding sources.
The average viewers and agency clients, not so much. They want what they want quickly. A search box. An easy way to ask for information. Services front and center. Access to the top 3 social media posts without leaving the site. Specific events. Blog for input. Program and service videos. Success stories. Job postings. Pictures, pictures and more pictures!
Lastly, user experience and design are not separate concepts. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? Exactly the opposite for site viewers.