1. Visual Cues to scroll down – the trend toward full screen photos in website headers has caused some issues with usability as website visitors will sometimes focus solely on the portion of the site showing on the screen, and not necessarily think to scroll down to see if there is more. To solve this, many websites show either direct visual cues like an arrow pointing down OR they shorten the height of the header visual to show text or content below the header so it is clear that more goodies lie below the fold.
2. Message above the menu – because the real estate above the fold (the first screenful people see before scrolling down) is so valuable, sometimes it’s more important to have your message come first before even your menu options. Your site can be set up to show your message above the menu and then, as the visitor scrolls down, the first message disappears and you see a traditional menu-at-the-top layout for the rest of the page.
3. Minimalist menus – As websites become more content-intensive, it can be challenging to organize that content in a way that makes it easy to find. It’s tempting to set up lots of main menu options so everything appears more accessible. But in reality, people are experiencing information overload everywhere they go and it can actually cause more problems to have many menu options. Faced with more than 6 or 7 options and people can freeze – unsure where to go first – and it’s too easy to give up and leave your site. Keeping your menu structure simple, and using longer pages instead of shorter ones, will be more comfortable for your visitors.
4. Selling products to support your cause – there are many types of supporters and it’s easy to think that the sole focus should be on cash donations with no incentives. But having a store that sells logo imprinted / mission inspired items is a great way to get supporters started – especially millennials. Plus having an army of people wearing your logo can really help get your message out to the world.
5. Modal Box pop-ups – these are being used more and more by nonprofits to put a specific message and call-to-action right up front as someone is entering or exiting the website. The modal boxes are big but easy to close and are very successful at getting people to sign up, donate, sign a petition or any other action you need.
6. Full Size or very Prominent Video – video has become so important in marketing as the number one tool to get your message across. And there are lots of appropriate places to use casual videos created with your iphone. The main page is really not one of them. It’s time to invest in a sizzle reel video – something 2-4 minutes long that showcases what your organization is all about, and then place it as a focal point on your website’s home page. I recommend doing video footage at your annual signature event and if it’s done properly, that footage can be used to create different videos, with even the unused footage pulled out into mini videos to use for social media and campaign content.
7. The Non-Mission-Statement Mission Statement – in the early days when website pages consisted of almost all text, nonprofits often had their full mission statements featured on the main page. Mission statements are back, but not in the full formality of their predecessors. Website language has become more casual and less like a dissertation so state what you do in a conversational manner – front and center!
8. Fun Rollovers – this is another come-back design feature that has been toned down from the early days of Flash websites. Now instead of distracting movement all over the page, we are seeing elegant rollover effects that give you the feeling of interactivity without taking away from content and messaging. The rollover effects are often color overlays on photos and text that become more prominent and readable on rollover.
9. Background Photos – as web design is becoming more visual, photos are being inserted into various areas of prominence on the main page. Using photos as a background can draw attention to important text, create needed color to offset a lot of white space and can contribute to the overall story being presented with the accompanying text.
10. Icon Sets – icons are a great way to visually show content and are often used to show program information and/or calls to action on the main page of the website. They are quickly recognizable as someone is scanning the page.