Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

Launching your new website can be stressful

I get it, you’re strapped for time and money. So you found a cool looking template (or theme) that comes with everything you need for your new site. It looked really good on the preview site, and you thought, “awesome,” but now you’ve added all you own content and images and it’s not working. Something isn’t right and you can’t put your finger on it.

Templates are always awkward without some tweaking
You’ve asked for feedback from a few trusted colleagues and everyone confirms your suspicions. There’s too much happening, they’re not sure where to click first, they don’t understand what you’re trying to say. So, what now?

Make your site authentic by putting your audience first
It’s time to take a step back and really think about what your audience needs, what you want them to know, and what you want them to do. Yes, this means that you’ll be making some programming and design changes to the template you bought, but honestly, that’s a good thing. Very few organizations can take a cookie cutter site and make it work for their content. Yes, it makes things a bit more complicated, but it’s better this way. You want a site that people are going to understand what it is you do, how it helps them, and what actions they need to take. If it takes them longer than 5 minutes to figure this out you’ve probably lost them. Why? That’s all the time they can spare.

For a superior website think clear, short and engaging content
People will usually skim a page first to get the overall gist of what you’re offering. So write as clear and concise as possible — think buckets with subheads, and use bulleted lists when possible. Remember not to overwhelm your audience with too much information, or choices.

Your home page should say:

  • what you do
  • what they will gain, or what the benefits are
  • and what action they need to take

How you do this is where the beauty comes in. Crafting sentences that engage, visuals that inspire, and calls to action that excite, takes practice. The beauty of the internet is that you can easily keep tweaking and make adjustments, even to a live site.

So take a step back, reassess your site, adjust as needed, and launch that sucker already. Don’t wait for perfection, he’s an elusive boyfriend.