What can you do to make your website standout, grab your readers’ attention, and share your message in a compelling way? There are lots of great suggestions out there for designing a great website. In the first chapter of her book, Social Media for Social Good, for example, Heather Mansfield describes 11 “website design best practices for nonprofits.” She describes the importance of creating a website that is visually powerful with a consistent design and easily readable text; she emphasizes simplicity with tips such as never having more than two columns in a page; and she discusses the importance of including and integrating social media into your site. All Great Tips. But, ultimately, great websites are about what you like to see when a site pops up. What makes you feel comfortable? What intrigues you? What makes you click away right away?
The following 3 tips for creating a great website are based on what grabs me most when I visit a website.
3. Include Interactive Elements: Websites with interactive content grab my attention in ways that static sites do not.
For example, the website for Every Last Drop which is part of an awareness campaign about not wasting water, grabbed my attention right away with the interactive animated content. The reader’s scrolling controls the animated content. And, always a plus, it’s clean and simple and streamlined – not too much to follow in the animation.
Interactive elements may be especially important to engage youth in health related sites. I believe the CDC has done a great job using interactive elements in their website BAM! which is a comprehensive Body And Mind site covering topics from disease to safety to mental health. Their site includes games and great eye-popping images. They clearly have a pulse on what kids like right now as evidenced by their superhero theme (my 4 yr old is completely obsessed with superheroes right now).
2. Use Well Placed Pictures with Real People: Images of real people can convey the message of the website much more effectively than words for me. For example, the website for One, which promotes an organization whose mission is to end preventable diseases and poverty, expertly uses images to draw the reader in and help the reader understand what the organization is doing.
1. Tell a Story: Nothing draws me in like a good story. The website for Next Generation Men, which is an Atlanta based organization providing positive exposure and opportunities for African-American young men, utilizes story telling well by having a video strategically placed on their home page with a large, all-caps, “WATCH VIDEO” button. The video tells the story of the organization beautifully. By the end of the 2 minute video, I was ready to do whatever I could to help the organization.