Posted by Jay Wilkinson

I’m visually wired and right-brained—I love creative expression. And even though I’m also a tech geek, it’s the design part of building nonprofit websites that gets me really excited.

The idea of design has been around since man started drawing on cave walls. Look around you right now. Everything in the room, from the chair you’re sitting on to the light fixtures to the floor covering—all of that was designed for a reason. It was created with a purpose in mind. Sometimes it’s aesthetic. Sometimes it’s functional. Hopefully, it’s both.

Your nonprofit website should be no different. It should be designed so that it’s clean, simple and straightforward. But even more than that, your website should tell the story of your organization.

A lot of people think that great nonprofit web design lies in the “wow” factor—that a really stunning design should make you gasp with excitement or blow you away with its beauty. While a “wow” factor is nice, it’s actually not the most important element of stellar nonprofit web design.

The most amazing nonprofit web designs are those that clearly and accurately tell your story.

Let me give you an example. There is an organization called EDSF, orElectronic Document Scholarship Foundation. By just hearing the name, most think, “What’s that?” The name doesn’t really tell the story. But their website does. Immediately when you get to their homepage, you see pictures of students, three buttons labeled Donate Now, Scholarships and Education, and text on the homepage that tells you exactly what this organization’s mission is.

The combination of the images, the site’s navigation buttons, headlines and text all tell you that this is an organization dedicated to providing scholarships to students. Read a little further, and you find out that they are about providing scholarships specifically for those studying in the document management and graphic communications industry. Within a matter of seconds, I know what this organization is about, who they serve and what their story is, simply because they do a fantastic job of designing their site with a purpose in mind.

Take a closer look at your website—does it tell the story of your organization? If visitors can’t tell what you’re about when they hit your homepage, then your nonprofit web design may need a little creative help.