Posted by Jay Wilkinson

In the nonprofit world, here’s a typical scenario:

An organization decides it’s time to update their website, so someone in marketing calls a meeting and invites everyone in the office, plus maybe a few volunteers, to participate. The leader writes “Ideas for our new website” on the whiteboard and kicks off a discussion.

Someone blurts out, “I saw a cool nonprofit website yesterday, and it had such-and-such, we should have that!” And someone else chimes in, “I saw xyz on this other site, let’s include that.” This continues on for a while with people throwing out ideas and the leader writing feverishly. It’s called brainstorming—and that’s a good thing, right? You take everyone’s ideas, write them down and see what sticks.

Then what’s wrong with this picture?

The problem is that the people who are actually using the site—the end-users—are not a part of this conversation. Your constituents, the people you serve, volunteers, donors, other nonprofits and, hopefully, the media, are the people you’re building your nonprofit website for. But unfortunately, they often don’t have a voice.

You have to build your site for your users, not yourself.

Many different audiences will visit your website, and they’re all looking for something unique. Your nonprofit website needs to be built with these end-users in mind—designed to cater to their needs and include the features and content that each group is looking for. That’s great that your staff and employees have an opinion, but your site should be all about meeting the needs of your intended audience, not your internal team.

Careful research and planning will help you hit the mark on what your target audience is looking for. To learn more about what your constituents want in your nonprofit website based on Firespring focus group studies, I recommend attending the next Firespring webinar on “How to Captivate and Engage Constituents With Your Website.”