Can you communicate in a few seconds what you do and why it’s important?
Your nonprofit home page is a crucial introduction to your organization. Within a few seconds, a first-time user should understand the purpose and usefulness of your site. Your home page should show how your nonprofit website can meet the user’s needs; highlight your richest, most current content; and demonstrate your positive impact on society.
- Your home page (and all other pages) should load very quickly. Don’t use an introductory “splash” page or flash animation.
- Your mission statement and the word “welcome” should not be on your home page.
- Strive for simplicity and clarity in design. Your home page should be attractive and engaging, but uncluttered.
- Put your logo at the top of the home page and on every page on your site. It should always be linked to your home page.
- A one-sentence tagline on your home page should explain what you do and how you differ from others doing the same.
- An About Us link should be clearly available for users who want to know more about you.
- There should be a compelling, local photograph (not a stock shot) that echoes your tagline on your home page. The photo should have alt text and a message-rich caption.
- Contents are hierarchically arranged to match an F eye-movement pattern. Jakob Nielsen shows how readers tend to scan Web sites by moving left to right across the top of the page, then left to right slightly below the top of the page, then vertically top to bottom on the left side of the page-in a pattern resembling an F. Think about that pattern when placing your most important content.
- Links on your home page should quickly show readers what actions they can take on the site. Make it easy for them to find the answers to their questions.
- Share examples of your most interesting, recent site content. There should be a place to glimpse your latest news.
- There should be a place where people can sign up for your email newsletter. It’s critical to also include a large, colorful donate button.
- Make strategic use of keywords to make your home page more attractive to search engines.
- Let users know about your social media presences without distracting them with too many badges and widgets.
- If you offer an intranet, make sign-in easy to find and easy to use (no more than one click).
- Offer a site search option with a search box that’s 27 characters wide on every page.
- Put essential contact information on every page.
Source: Gayle C. Thorsen, Best Practices Nonprofit Web Site Design ebook