Is it time to rethink your website?

by Farra Trompeter

Image by Lee Brimelow

It's been 20 years since the launch of the world's first website, and now it is hard to imagine what we ever did without them. In the mid- to late-1990s, nonprofits started creating websites of their own. These sites were relatively static and look like ancient artifacts when you look back in time thanks to the handy Way Back Machine. (If you've never used this tool, try it. Enter the URL of your site, or another you love, and take a trip down memory lane. Check out the Big Duck site in 2005--my, how we've grown.)

Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure of working with Kira Marchense, Online Communications Director at the Environmental Defense Fund on a session about website redesign for NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference. Together, we created a presentation to help nonprofiteers have:
  1. A better understanding of what has changed over the years--and what hasn't--and in what people want from your website and how you can deliver it. 
  2. New ideas for keeping your site current and interactive.
  3. Criteria to evaluate how much of a redesign you need, and how much you can handle--is a little refresh enough, do you need a complete redesign, or should you leave things alone? 

On the last point, Kira and I worked with Big Duck's intrepid senior designer, Rebecca Hume, to create a flowchart (click image) to assess how you and your website are doing in terms of the four major components: goals and audiences; content and structure; design; and technology. Using this chart can help you answer questions like:

  • Does your website give users what they need in the way that they want it? 
  • Does it serve your mission and current goals? 
  • Do you have a content strategy and the resources you need to keep your site up to date? 
  • How have the trends toward interactivity, social media, and responsive design affected your website? 

So... is it time to rethink your website? Let us know what you think after going through the flowchart!

7 Comments RSS

Monique Cuvelier |
Love your flowchart! Planning for a new website is definitely systematic, and it helps to go step-by-step. Answer these questions from the get-go, and the whole process will be much easier:
- When do you want to launch?
- Do you have a budget?
- What's the main goal for the site?
- Who's the typical visitor?
- What's the main thing people need to do there?
- What's your functionality wish list?
- What are some other sites you like, and why?
Here's a workbook that goes through the process:
Dana H. |
This guide is AMAZING. Commongood Careers is planning a website tune-up, and this information highlights exactly the questions we need to ask ourselves, our clients, and other stakeholders.
Big Duck, as always, you amaze me.
Farra |
@Monique -- thanks for sharing your questions and adding to the conversation. I'm looking forward to diving into your workbook.
@Dana -- so happy to hear you appreciate the flowchart. Please do share it with your community!
Becky |
Awesome flowchart, great tool for clients. Thanks!
Kristel Hayes |
Love this flowchart! I would argue, however, that "Design" & "Technology" are either flip flopped or blended...
Folks should, ideally, understand what their technology & CRM needs are before deciding on the best designer to create something appropriate for that platform.
Farra |
Thanks to everyone for these great comments and additional questions/thoughts.
@Monique -- your workbook is a great thing to review alongside this chart.
@Kristel -- great point. In fact, we had discussed how the content/design/tech sections often happen somewhat simultaneously depending on the process. Goals and Audiences certainly most come first.

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