An attractive, easy to navigate, content rich website is important for any organization, but I find it especially tragic when a great nonprofit is lacking in this area. Some of these organizations fail to realize that today, just giving user’s information about their mission and achievements is not sufficient to gain full support. A user may be interested in their cause, but lets remember that most people have multiple issues that they care about, and “competing” websites are just a click away. To be taken seriously, it’s critical that a nonprofit have a very professional, polished, online presence.
In my opinion, the best nonprofit designs, are not just attractive, but also focus on donor acquisition, newsletter conversions (signups), and social engagement. They should make it easy for the media to learn more about the organization, and if they have a need for volunteers, that call-to-action should be front and center too. It should be clear on the homepage what they do. A user shouldn’t have to visit About Us for this type of basic info (although the About Us section is a good opportunity for a fuller picture of the organization).
The following are some nonprofit homepage designs I have come across that I found particularly compelling and express the potential compositional diversity in this genre:
This site is one of my favorites. The designer not only created a very engaging architecture for this composition, but also demonstrated an appreciation for the subtlety that makes a design like this successful. The 3D objects dropped on the page, the use of texture, and the well coordinated palette all contribute. While many nonprofits may need more content than this on the page, for some, a few main content areas is all that is needed.
This site had a need to elevate a number of links and managed to do it w/o the page looking too busy. The top banner area sets the tone for the components below it, and the layered effect creates visual interest without being heavy handed. The top area also has important CTAs prominent.
I thought this site was fun because it combines illustrations with people photography at the top of every page. This is a unique approach that makes the pages warmer and more interesting. The site also uses a simple airy layout that helps the content “breath.”
While this is technically a govt site, the goals are similar. The fantastic logo sets fun, youthful tone for the site and established the blue. The nav items are fearlessly prominent, and the use of descriptive text under each is effective w/o looking busy. The boxy approach is sort of the opposite of the open feel which is the more common trend these days, but in this use it helps organize content effectively.
Extra large, attention grabbing photos help nurture a connection to the cause. I also like the use of smiling faces introducing topics. The At a Glance section is an interesting use of a miniature carousel to add visual content.
I couldn’t resist throwing in one of my own designs. For this one I was interested in playing with blending modes and using an overt grid structure to create a rectilinear composition. There was a lot of info they wanted on this page and a fairly flat visual hierarchy.
My portfolio has a variety of examples, each with a very different look. That’s important to mention because designers sometimes box themselves in when doing nonprofit work thinking that only a small subset of solutions are appropriate. As long as the goals are met, there is actually a good deal of flexibility.