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Web Design for Associations and Nonprofits: 5 Keys to Success

We put together five factors that are essential to preparing for a successful website redesign for Associations and Nonprofits.
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Considering a website redesign and not sure where to start?

At Solid Digital, we’ve learned a lot over the years from our many web design engagements with associations and nonprofits. Even though associations and nonprofits all have distinct missions and vary widely in the members they serve, we’ve identified five factors that are essential to preparing for a successful redesign and ensuring great outcomes. 

1. Look for cultural fit and connection.

Culture is a big deal at Solid Digital. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and we make a point to work with clients whose values align with ours. This means, among other things, that we seek clients for whom there is a connection that powers great communication, excellent working relationships, and outcomes that exceed expectations.

We urge all clients and especially associations and nonprofits to not view culture fit and connection as a luxury or a nice-to-have. It is an essential driver of success. Likewise, Choosing the right agency will translate into a better, more enjoyable experience and has the potential to lead to untold gains through a long-term partnership.

2. Determine the multiple objectives that your site needs to accomplish. 

Association and nonprofit websites typically serve a diversity of audiences who have multiple objectives when visiting the site. Look for an agency partner who understands that your site not only needs to define your organization’s mission with compelling and credible language and graphics, the navigation and site structure needs to work for a range of audiences that include: 

  • Donors,
  • The community, 
  • Grant-issuing organizations, 
  • Volunteers, 
  • The media, and 
  • Individuals or groups that the organization has been created to serve.

A depth of discovery, persona development, and mapping of user journeys at the outset can be essential in creating messaging and navigation that effectively and elegantly sorts through how to best serve diverse persona groups with varied objectives.

3. Seek solutions and help with prioritizing features and functions. 

Budgetary considerations are always a factor. This is as true for for-profit clients as it is for associations and nonprofits, but don’t be too quick to accept “no” as an answer. Look for an agency partner who can help to sort through “must-haves” from “nice-to-haves” concerning the site’s features and functionality. Push them further for innovative solutions that leverage the latest technologies and the assurance that no important objectives are being left behind.

4. Review the portfolio of past clients. 

There’s a reason why associations and nonprofits are drawn to certain agencies. Past work offers irrefutable proof of what an agency is made of and their track record of successful website design. Even before the conversation with an agency begins, it’s helpful to check out the “Work” tab on their website to review case studies. Are there other associations and nonprofits among the mix? Are there indications of the agency’s values and cultural alignment?

For Solid Digital, the long standing relationship with the Annenberg Foundation and recent redesign of their website is a key indicator of both the quality of our work and the calibre of our client relationships.

Our commitment to giving back is reflected in our annual Impact Grant, which in 2020 was awarded to Orchard Village, offering the benefit of pro bono digital growth strategic support from Solid Digital. Contributing to and witnessing the impact of this growth has been a powerful experience for our team.

5. Be open to new perspectives and expertise.

It’s not uncommon for the websites of nonprofits and associations to contain an overload of information or mismatched approaches based on input from multiple stakeholders. Letting go of messaging or approaches that have defined an organization up to a certain point can be a challenge, but in a world where competition for philanthropic dollars and volunteer commitments is stiff, it’s important to stay ahead with streamlined navigation that’s built upon an understanding of the distinct user journeys of the objectives of persona groups who use the site. 

For some, a disciplined approach to site navigation and UX might feel a bit like “tough love.”  When it’s based on expertise and experience — along with a passion for client success — there can be significant opportunities for growth.

Successful web design for nonprofits and associations calls for distinct expertise and skill. When passion and connection are added to the mix, new possibilities and outcomes come to life. 

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