Charity Web Design - Three Starting Points

Creating an effective online presence for your Charity, NGO, Political Party, Advocacy group, or Association is increasingly important. Often your website is the primary point of contact a supporter or potential will have with your brand so that makes positive first impressions vital.

Today charity web design needs to do more than provide information; it needs to be the centre of an integrated hub connecting a number of channels including social media, events, fundraising and your customer relationship people (CRM) database.

In this article we look at three important starting points to consider when planning for non profit digital design project briefs. Of course, there are many more issues to consider but we think these considerations should be near the top of your list.

User Experience & Information Design

Stepping back from the underlying tech, or the specifics of content, the first place to start is to think really deeply about the specific needs of your end supporters or users. Getting close to their motivations, both on a pragmatic and emotional level, is the critical first step to successful charity web design.

Imagine for a moment you visit a new hairdresser. You sit down in the chair and he promptly starts cutting away before asking what length, style or even type of haircut you want. What do you think the outcome is likely to be? Would you be satisfied with this service? And would it give you a good impression of him?

Not likely. Exactly the same is true of any website design: not listening to your end users, ignoring their needs, aspirations and motivations will leave a negative impression of both your cause and brand.

Create a website that looks great, functions well, is easy to navigate and is useful to people's needs. And guess what — they will come back time and time again.

There are a number of effective starting methods and techniques, from stakeholder interviews to developing personas to tapping into social or demographic data sources. Using the right blend of initial user research is key to delivering a successful website design.

Whilst it’s possible to complete this in-house many organisations choose to bring in specialist outside expertise to help with this process and provide an external perspective.

At Brand Response we’ve completed this on many charity web design projects, as well as for numerous social enterprises and other advocacy organisations. We have our own techniques that have been honed and refined over years of experience working in different contexts.

Mobile Browser Support

It goes without saying that mobile phone and tablet support is now not an add on, or nice to have, but forms a central part of any digital design project.

As much as 30% of all websites visitors will arrive using a mobile phone or tablet, and as you’ll know from your own experience, it can be frustrating if a website does not support these devices. Mobile audience share can sometimes be even higher (we’ve seen up to 70%) if for example you are driving a lot of traffic from social media or you have a younger demographic.

Either way mobile audience share is set to continue rising rapidly over the coming years. This is why many apps and websites propose having a ‘mobile first’ approach, meaning they place emphasis on getting the mobile design experience right prior to addressing desktop design.

The most common type of charity web design approach is to ensure your site is responsive. Responsive Design means that your website will adapt automatically based on the width of a browser window, with menus and other content items altering at specific ‘break points’ for desktop, tablet and smart phone users.

This should ensure a good experience on different devices, whist ensuring the content is easy to update and you don’t have to maintain different content for various devices.

Brand Response is a specialist in building websites that work across mobile phones, tablets and desktop beautifully. In addition we always make sure any design we produce is fully tested across a range of common devices before going live.

Fundraising & Data

Online fundraising is important source of income for charities; last year in the UK alone it accounted for £10.1 billion and the amount given online has more than doubled between 2012-2015. Your charity web design needs to incorporate not only the opportunity for new supporters to donate, but also consider the user journey to the point of donation and the path to retention for existing donors.

You can’t treat your supporters like a quick cash machine or ATM; asking for cash upfront without first building up a relationship of trust. You need to know who you are asking, what they are interested in, when to ask, and how much to ask for. And you need to do all this at scale.

That is where behavioural data, customer relationship management (CRM) and Marketing Automation come into play. Beyond basic analytics your website needs to incorporate the ability to understand what your visitors are doing, and who they are, into a single record of contact or 'single customer view'. This allows you to better target ‘asks’ with personalised content that is tailored for each supporter. (Of course this has to all adhere closely to Data Protection and Privacy best practice.)

Brand Response are experts in developing reliable infrastructure for exactly this type of fundraising and scalable smart use of data. We even have out own platform used by many charities called that can be easily incorporated into a new or exiting website. This includes super important features for the UK sector like Gift Aid and online Direct Debit giving.

Next steps?

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