I'm really excited because NPower Network is getting a NEW WEBSITE!
This is something we DESPERATELY need as our site, which is decidedly "1.0," is the source of much frustration for many! It's hard to update, doesn't enable COMMUNICATION between users. In short, it's NOT the high-leverage communications tool we want and need it to be.
Anyway, the good news is, that's all about to change! And soon...
Since almost all nonprofits will share the similar pain, challenge, and joy of redoing a website at some time, I thought I'd offer my advice/thoughts/commentary as we embark on our own journey. Here goes...
The first thing to ask when you're building a new WEBSITE is:
Who are we hoping to be IN CONVERSATION WITH and ABOUT WHAT?
I know. I know. You already know your target audience and have your messaging buttoned up (right?). Still, it's critical to start with this step just to be SURE that everyone is on the same page. :)
Now that you know who you are talking with you can determine your goals for the site. Goals can include, "selling our services to partners," "communicating with members," "raising money from new donors," "getting people to register for our event," and more... However, it's important to remember that your site can't do everything for everyone. Prioritize and keep it simple.
Questions of functionality, i.e. what "features" you need, come next. Note: The operative word is "NEED." There are TONS of features that you CAN include on your site such as blogs, calendars, RSS feed, video, banners, widgets, etc.... but try not to be distracted by "bells and whistles" for their own sake. Make sure that your decisions about features are informed by your goals.
Who doesn't love a pretty face? Design and navigation are next. Think carefully about how you want your site to look? What colors, fonts, images will be pleasing to the eye? What will your design say about you? You want to make it REALLY EASY for people to get what they need from you and do what you want them to do.
Finally, before you launch ask a few folks to TEST it out. They will help you see things you shouldn't miss and/or confirm that you've put together a great site!