Clearing a Path to a Better Website

caleb-fullBy: Caleb Copper, Blackbaud Interactive Designer

With summer just around the corner, now is a great time to examine your nonprofit website and ask yourself: “Am I really using my website to its potential?” Or for many: “Do I really need 1,000 pages on my website?” Cleaning up your website can not only improve the performance and overall appearance of your organization’s web presence, it also has the potential to drastically improve your users’ experience on your site. So get out the hedge trimmers, open up a cross-breeze, and let’s get to work!


For some of us, it’s all too familiar having to weave through boxes and bags of various items that have collected in our garages just to get in the car to drive to work. The users of your website might be experiencing similar problems. Whether conscious or not, all online users approach your website with a goal in mind. Maybe it’s their first time visiting your site and they just need to know what your organization is all about, or perhaps they have a more specific purpose to sign up for a volunteer opportunity or to make a financial contribution to your mission. We want to be sure that we clear the path so that they can meet those goals with the least resistance possible.

A great place to start is by realigning your site with your various audience groups and then picking out at least 3 actions that group might be looking to complete. For example, an audience group could be returning volunteers, who, when visiting your site, might be interested in upcoming volunteer opportunities, his or her history of volunteer events, and maybe viewing highlighted stories or images from a past event. Be sure to provide multiple opportunities to learn about upcoming events through calls to action on the homepage or create a simple path through your main navigation. It should take no more than 3 clicks starting from the homepage for your users to get the information they need.


There’s nothing that can distract from a beautiful garden or living space like unsightly weeds or clumps of dust and pet hair. Your website can have distractions too, because it’s easy to neglect the upkeep of all your web pages if you don’t have a plan. Go through your site, page by page, and make sure that all your content is up-to-date and timely. Fix any broken links or images and take this opportunity to trim up that lengthy paragraph or two. And everyone knows that cleaning is more fun with a buddy! Assign parts of your site to various members of your organization to help you out. Who better to audit your “Ways to Give” page than your Director of Development or even ask the CEO to update the “About Us” or “History” pages. You’ll improve the accuracy of the information on your website and you might have a few laughs along the way.


Now that your website is looking spick and span, it’s time to invite some guests over to enjoy the fruits of your labor. A great way to test our your fresh new content is to ask anyone who is willing to take a look at your site and provide some constructive criticism. Assign them a user role and give them a task to complete on your website. Sit beside your test user and watch how they interact with your site. Did they miss the major call to action or did they have trouble navigating within your main navigation? Discuss with them their pain points while viewing your site and consider stepping back to our first point and clearing up a path again.

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