A curated guide with resources to help you find out if your website is working ok and what to do - whether it needs improving a little or a lot.
This resource is for digital, website or communication leads who need to plan and update their organisation’s website.
It offers help with 5 challenges your site could be facing. You could be looking to make small improvements, have a nagging hunch that some elements aren’t working, or be considering a full redesign.
For each challenge we offer 1 or more resources chosen from the recent Catalyst archive. Wherever your website is at, there will be something here to help you move it forward.
1. You think your website isn’t working for your visitors, but you’re not sure
Perhaps you’ve heard people say they can’t find things on your website. Perhaps some of those people are your own staff.
Or perhaps some of your main pages have unexpectedly low numbers of visitors.
You can’t be sure if or why there is a problem, and you’ve no benchmark to compare it to.
✔️ Use Hotjar (free for non-profits) to see how people behave on your site. See step-by-step how Voluntary Organisations Network North East used Hotjar.
✔️ Go a step further and test your website with people who would usually use it. Read our guide to usability testing your website.
2. Your website isn’t accessible enough
You know your site isn’t offering everyone a seamless experience. Perhaps you’ve had some direct feedback from users with access needs. Or perhaps you tested it with an accessibility checker.
Or perhaps you are embarking on a redesign and want to make sure everyone can use it OK.
Or perhaps you just want to learn what to look out for.
✔️ Colour, navigation and labelling are the 3 things most likely to make your site inaccessible. Read how to identify 3 common accessibility barriers.
✔️ Readability is the 4th common accessibility barrier. It can always be improved. Doing this helps everyone access your site. Read Why readability is important for your charity.
3. You need to improve certain pages
Your site is generally good. You’re happy enough with it. And it’s quite accessible. But some of your pages could be better.
Perhaps your analytics show that people don’t stay on them as long as you’d expect.
Or perhaps lots of people leave your site on those pages, rather than continuing their journey.
✔️ Your homepage needs improving. Read tips for a user-focused, content-first homepage
✔️ Your About page doesn’t help people understand who you are. Read how to create an effective About page.
✔️ Your website has lots of advice and guidance pages. Learn a simple way to check your guidance pages are useful.
Then learn how to create web pages that help people solve problems themselves.
4. You want to improve your site, but don’t have much time
Your site could definitely be improved. But you don’t have time or budget for a full redesign. What can you do to make small improvements?
Start small by choosing any of these 30 to 60 minute tasks:
✔️ 1: Update a popular page
✔️ 5: Remove a PDF
5. Your website needs a full redesign
Perhaps you’ve tested your site and decided it needs a redesign.
Or maybe you’ve already made that decision and are wondering what to do next.
✔️ You’re ready to start planning. Learn the key ingredients, what you should be asking yourself and 7 steps when planning a new charity website.
✔️ Get a broader overview of why, when and how people update their websites with this NCVO guide to what to do before you start a new website.
NCVO also give good advice on hiring a developer or building your site yourself.
✔️If you’re ready to get started then you can also find a developer with Dovetail.
6: You just want to see how other people’s sites are doing
Perhaps you’re not sure where to begin.
Or you’re looking for inspiration.
These 5 charity website crits will give you a flavour of the kinds of problems and solutions your website could have. They use real life examples of good and bad design.
✔️ 1. Quaker Social Action
✔️ 2. Reach Volunteering
✔️ 3. Dementia UK
✔️ 5. Catalyst
Need more help?
Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes on your website and advice on the way forward. You can get 60 minutes of free advice from an expert through Digital Candle.
Image credit: Photo by Keira Burton