14 Dec Understanding the Importance of an Updated Website
Many small non-profit organizations and clubs ask us for advice on how they can improve their website and digital presence on a tight budget. Often times their existing website will be an ancient beast we haven’t seen since around 2003 — back when Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) was popular, and the three column design layouts were the latest trend.
While 2003 may not seem like it was a terribly long time ago when counting birthdays you have celebrated since then, it does happen to be almost the equivalent of a century in technological advancements. Let’s think about the pace of technology in dog years. In a few weeks when it turns 2016, 2003 would be the equivalent of 91 dog years ago. That’s a lifetime.
In 2003, the Apple iPhone did not exist, and the smartest phones were ones that could access email via text only. Designing websites for mobile devices was an unnecessary luxury as the vast majority of users only accessed websites from their personal computers. iPads and tablets did not exist yet for the mainstream consumer market. 2003 was also an era in the design world where many designers were more focused on delivering content than how it was being delivered. The limitations of web browsers left many things to be desired, with Macromedia Flash and Shockwave still being used by many websites.
When the first generation Apple iPhone released in 2007, the world was changed. As mass adoption of the Apple iPhone picked up, and as competitors rushed out their own smartphone versions, consumers started browsing websites directly from their smartphones. This meant three things:
- Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) became increasingly irrelevant as Apple iPhones and many smartphones had decided not to support Flash at all. Making websites who had integral parts of their website in Flash no longer compatible for a growing number of devices.
- Websites now had to be compatible for a wide range of device sizes, as not all smartphones are made the same. This eventually led to the creation and proliferation of responsive website design. That is, websites that are coded to scale down and up properly regardless of your browser size.
- Visuals over text. As more information populates on the internet on a daily basis, and because information was now easily accessible from your finger tips whenever you were on the go, the average attention span for website users began decreasing. It became increasingly important for designers to incorporate attractive visuals that would keep users interested in staying on the website.
In today’s growing tech world, website designs last an average shelf life of 2 years before they need to be redesigned or refreshed to maintain compatible and updated with all devices.
Let’s take a look at a typical non-profit service club website design. In this example, we are examining the Rotary Club of Tucson’s website:
Every website has about three seconds to capture the interest of their user before the user leaves the website. In the first three seconds, here were my impressions:
- This is the Rotary Club of Tucson’s website (good)
- They have something to do with the leaves on this tree (neutral / bad)
- They have meetings on Wednesdays and “service above self” caught my eye (good)
- I have no idea what they actually do (bad)
- Lots of text (bad)
That was a typical small non-profit’s website. It ultimately fails at delivering a visually enticing experience that explains to the user what the organization is about, and why the user should care. Ultimately, there is no real clear call-to-action for the website.
Now, let’s reimagine this website. Our design team took a couple of hours to create a redesign mockup for what their Rotary Club website could potentially look like. (Disclaimer: The Rotary Club of Tucson is not one of our clients, nor did we make this mock with their permission. We simply wanted to do a design exercise in-house with our team.)
Here is what our design team re-imagined:
Immediately from the top, you can see that the first three seconds of the new website experience would clearly define that the Rotary Club of Tucson is an active club (thus the photo), and that they believe in making the world a better place with local leaders (the main headline text for the hero image). Scrolling down, you immediately get a section about what the Rotary Club of Tucson is all about. As you continue scrolling, you learn more about the organization in a visually appealing manner.
Near the bottom of the website, there are clear reasons why one would want to join their Rotary Club. Finally, there is a clear call-to-action at the bottom with the different pricing tiers and join buttons.
Non-profit organizations and clubs can both greatly benefit from modern approaches to their website design. A modern, responsive design can increase donations and conversions dramatically. If your organization is important to you, what’s stopping your group from having a modern website that works for your organization rather than against it?