For the charitable sector, in 2014 (the most recent year for which results are available) over £1.5 billion was donated to charities online in the UK alone. There is little doubt that a large chunk of this money was bequeathed after attention was grabbed by a splash of colour, a gripping image; a website. So why is a charity website so important?
Let’s be clear, for all third sector organisations, having a charity website in the first place is crucial. There are all kinds of ways they generate interest and income, from revenue from advertising on the site, to revenue from merchandise that can be also be sold with just a few clicks, to videos and articles that engage an audience. They provide opportunities to connect with donors, associates and partners in an unprecedented way. Thought however, must go into them if they are to be effective; the importance of an attractive and user friendly website cannot be overstated. A bad website is worse than having none at all. A study by the Change Sciences Group found that the average person will persevere with a website for all of 60 seconds before giving up, with key stumbling blocks including both a lack and an overabundance of information, difficult navigation and text that is simply too small. There is also a clear, downward trend of users’ trust in a product and the usability of a product’s website.
Building a website is a venture not without pitfalls but get it right and the results can be staggering. Getting it right is really not that difficult either. As with most things in life, the old adage applies; keep it simple! Make your content relevant, concise and easy to find. By all means take advantage of advertisements but keep them discreet and tasteful. Use videos and audio but beware of auto-play functions that can intrude on the user’s experience. Blog! A recent study showed that user engagement with websites increased 55% when blogs and articles were posted regularly.
So if your charity doesn’t have a website, there’s no time like the present and if it does ask yourself is it helping, or is it hindering. As the late, great Steve Jobs said, “Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.”