There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a non-profit’s online presence was viewed as secondary to live-and-in-person efforts. Perhaps an organization would have an e-newsletter or email campaign, or a simple website with sparse details about goals and missions and some streamlined contact information, but anything more considerable than that just wasn’t considered vital.
However, that time is long gone: today, a non-profit can live or die by its web persona and social media efforts as more and more donors and volunteers seek out causes in the virtual world. It’s vital, therefore, that a group’s website—and especially any blog component to that website—be designed in a completely attractive and functional manner that captures a visitor’s attention immediately, holds that attention and encourages action.
So what should a designer be stressing when crafting a blog page? Here are some best practices to ensure you’re making the most of your online efforts.
- When it comes to a basic template design, social and mobile media site Nonprofit Tech for Good recommends a simple two-column layout with a body column width of 600 pixels and a call-to-action column of 300 pixels. This gives the ability to feature photos and large fonts and highlight important elements that encourage people to act. Also, make your stories easy to read by using 18-point headlines and body text that is at least 13-point: nothing is more of a turn-off than a site that requires a visitor to squint.
- Always remember that responsive design rules in building a blog. More and more people access the web via a mobile device, and if your site doesn’t render appropriately—text is disjointed, photos bleed off the screen and video loads slowly or not at all—visitors will quickly lose interest and move on.
- The whole point of having a blog is to encourage visitors to take a specific action, whether it be volunteering, sharing your cause with a friend or donating money. So be sure your “donate” button, e-newsletter sign up and social network icons are prominent and easy to find. Remember that you’re looking to convert a visitor to a supporter, so don’t make them hunt for ways to help your organization.
- Use infographics to illustrate the information you want visitors to understand and digest, and change those infographics often. Graphs, charts and the like are a great way to make your case in a straightforward manner that clearly defines your successes and promotes specific calls to action.
- Like infographics, photos can tell a story in ways that words can’t, so make sure your pictures are attractive and run the entire width of the blog page—visuals that are compelling are more likely to be shared by visitors on social media.
- Allow your visitors to share their views by having a “comment” component on your blog page. People want to feel vested in a cause, and giving them an outlet for their views on a particular topic achieves this goal. Also, as Nonprofit Tech for Good notes, it helps weed out potential non-human, computer-generated trolls.
- Be sure your blog page is connected to and hosted within your website. Search engines such as Google look for fresh content when ranking results, so having a blog that you update regularly connected to your site ensures those search engines will give you a favorable position in listings.