Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Here’s how it often goes when a nonprofit decides to update its website:

The Executive or Marketing Director calls a meeting and invites everyone in the office to participate in a brainstorming session. It’s time to bring the organization’s web presence into 2013.

So the meeting starts and 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. And in the end, everyone looks at the go-to geek in the room and says, “Can we do this?” He scrunches up his face, scratches his head, and says, “I think so?”

The problem with this scenario is that the people who are actually using the site are not part of this conversation. Your constituents, your community, volunteers, donors, other nonprofits and, hopefully, the media are who you’re building your nonprofit website for. But in the above scenario, they don’t have a voice.

So, many nonprofits end up deciding how to build their websites based on what they’re capable of building rather than on what their end users need. Therein lies the big challenge: How do you create a nonprofit website with your users in mind from the start?

Glad you asked—I have a lot of information that can help you with that. At Firespring, we’ve done research and focus group studies with thousands of nonprofits and, more importantly, their constituents over the years. To learn more about what your users want in your nonprofit website, I recommend joining me in my next webinar on How to Captivate and Engage Constituents With Your Website.

Several different audiences will visit your website, and they’re all looking for something unique. Your nonprofit website needs to be designed to cater to their needs. It’s great that your staff has an opinion, but your nonprofit website should be about meeting the needs of your intended audience, not your internal team.