Window to the World – How to optimize your website design.

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Websites are still the Internet’s shop window. Despite the development and wide use of a range of new social media tools, your organization’s website (also called the static web) is still the main area in which you will have connection with your organization’s followers. Indeed the return on investment you see from your efforts in these other new media areas will be directly connected back to your website design and distribution list (Heather MansfieldImpressions).

As described by Everett’s theory ‘Diffusion of innovations’ we are in the late stages of adoption of internet. As such the majority of the population is deeply immersed in a soup of information overload.  As a consequence public tolerance for badly designed website with, for example poor navigation is very low. So putting thought into your website design is important.

Heather Mansfield’s book ‘Social Media for Good’ gives a good overview of some basic website conventions and best practices.  While bending the rules can make you a little different, there are certain characteristics that are worth sticking to, if for no other reason than to keep your visitors long enough to convey the information you wanted them to have in the first place!

1. Easy-to use Content Management System

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and you want to start designing a website there are a lot of useful resources such as WixWeebly, Squarespace to name just a few which can offer up a range of predesigned templates at no to little cost.

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Many of these templates will be already populated with conventional website structures and you can add additional features such as subscription to e newsletters or social media buttons.

2. Good writing

Good writing is still the cornerstone of a great website. In this case good writing will not look like a ‘War and Peace’ epic but refers to the ability to communicate ideas and calls to action in succinct two-to three-sentence paragraphs. Believe it, short and sweet is the new literature.

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3. Well designed graphics and photos will greatly affect the visual impact you website has and catch the eye of site visitors.  Breaking up the text with strong or informative images will help your audience linger long enough to get information from your website. As mentioned above, simple and consistent navigation is a must for today’s busy web user.

With no previous experience, this is an example of a website I designed using Wix.

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Finally, here are a few examples of some of the best non profit websites out there.  Their high standard of design may not be within the reach of beginners like us, but they all display the best practices while incorporating imagination and can serve as inspiration as you go out to experiment. Click on the website images below to explore further.

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3 thoughts on “Window to the World – How to optimize your website design.

  1. Fantastic opening image. It was nice to see reference to CMS as they are the backbone of what we see and do on the web. Diffusions of innovations was a nice value add. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Ruth,
    Wow! You did an amazing job with this blog post. I want highlight the things I learned not only about the topic but also on the way you formatted the information. I liked how you integrated the diffusion of innovation theory to emphasize on the importance of building a website that has a good design and is easy to navigate. What I really liked is the size of the pictures and how I could click on them to make them bigger if I wanted. I wouldn’t mind if you can pass the tip on how to do it. I liked this style because it doesn’t distract from your writing. The quote about the first impression is a good teaching point to keep in mind. The website you designed is great! It even has the option of adding a video. The pictures slideshow is a good way to present information, like the saying goes “a picture can say more than a thousand words”. I am really impressed with how you present information and images with a sleek design.

  3. Hi Ruth,

    Very well balanced between your experience/observations and referencing literature/theories. I think the success of a post really depends on the foundation/background the writer builds for the readers, and the background oftentimes comes from the theories.

    Very nice use of Heather Manfield’s suggestions for building a strong website. What makes your post even more meaningful is the use of pictures to exemplify your messages, strengthening the relationship between theories and your own interpretations.

    Very well done!

    Clipper

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