We at Fat Beehive always enjoy the Charities and Associations’ conference at the Business Design Centre in Islington. We get to meet lots of really interesting people and we get to talk to charity’s about website development.
We ran over 50 website MOT’s over the two days, critiquing and analysing websites of all shapes and sizes. With different goals, different audiences and different messages. We like to think that each person went away with at least one thing they could do today to improve their site.
We also found that there were lots of common misconceptions that charities have with regards to their website.
Barriers to charity website development
Small charities do face certain challenges when it comes to website development. The biggest being resources. We know charities have limited budgets and may turn to friends or volunteers to develop their site. You don’t have to use an agency to create a site and it doesn’t need to be expensive. But there are certain things you should think about which we’ve listed below.
Our 10 Top Website Tips for for small charities
At Fat Beehive we strongly believe there is that every charity no matter what the size can have an effective website.
Feel free to call any of our team to talk through your website and how we can help you on 020 7739 8704.
As Fat Beehive’s account manager, I meet with clients every day and review their websites. I’m looking at how well the website is performing and how we can find ways to improve its effectiveness. So when we were asked to speak at the CHASE 2013 conference, it seemed the ideal opportunity to share our experiences.
Below is a brief summary of our presentation.
An effective website is the balance of many things, but which is the most important? Functionality? Accessibility? Search engine results? Cost effectiveness? How do we priorities these things? And what can we do to make a website more effective?
We think there are five key steps.
5 steps to improving your website’s effectiveness
1. Understand your website users
Before you can improve anything, you have to understand the user. Your website is wholly dependent on your users and their ability get what they want out of your site. Without the user, there is no point to the website. Ask yourself:
How do we find this out? Simple. Ask your users! Otherwise, you’re basically just guessing. You can do a lot of this yourself in-house, or you can get a agency to help you. Either way, we can’t stress enough how important this is. It should fundamentally inform everything else that you choose to put onto your site.
2. Be clear about your goals
Your organisational needs + your users needs = your website goals. Without goals, you can’t measure effectiveness. These goals probably form part of your organisation’s overall strategy but they could be separate.
Charity website goals could include:
Try to collect baseline data before making changes.
Your goals need to be translated into website functionality and good content that in turn allows your users to perform their tasks. These tasks need to be clearly signposted; in website terms, these can also be called ‘calls-to-action’. Calls to action for a charity site could include:
3. Help your users reach their goals
Now, this is the trickier part to describe here as every organisation has different goals, but over the years, we’ve found there are some general rules which will help the user to reach these goals.
It’s important to remember that every page is a potential landing page. With search engines becoming more sophisticated, the home page isn’t necessarily the first place visitors will land on your website, so make sure that on every page you have a clear call-to-action for what you want the user to do next. These will focus the user and help you measure your effectiveness.
How can we persuade the user perform these calls-to-action?
4. Analyse your results
Success does not happen overnight, it takes time. You need to regularly review your website against your goals. Your organisation will change, so will your users and they way they use the web. Your Google Analytic results will provide you with some indication of how your effectiveness is improving, but you can always go back to your users and ask them to test your site again.
There is no point in measuring your effectiveness, if you’re not going to do anything about it. At Fat Beehive, we offer regular reviews of your website with your account manager. Making small adaptations your website, rather than doing a complete overhaul every few years is not only better for your bank balance, but also for your user. Even a simple font change can make the world of difference in the users perception of the site. Most importantly, keep your website content up-to-date and relevant.
To summarise; your website effectiveness starts and ends with your users.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve the effectiveness of your website we’ve found the Nielsen Norman Group website really useful. Or you can contact me, your account manager Reena O’Neill on 020 7403 8704 to arrange your review meeting or just to chat through your ideas.
Alongside exhibiting and speaking at CHASE 2013, we took the opportunity to attend some of the free speaker sessions at the conference and, as promised, here is a quick summary of what we learned from “How do you increase engagement with your supporters online and why?” by Jyoti Hull-Jurkovich, ASI Europe
Jyoti asked a lot of questions in his presentation, how do you get donors to come back to you? How do donors get information on their charities? Why do they engage with a charity?
Apparently, 70% of donors get information from direct marketing, although younger donors are using social media more and more and like frequent communications from their charities. The 30 to 39 year old bracket are keener on Facebook than Twitter.
Jyoti also confirmed that 36% of charity supporters will visit the website to find out more about a charity.
Jyoti highlighted that there are lots of ways you can communicate with your supporters – the web, email, mobile, social media, and came up with a formula on how you can measure engagement with these supporters.
EI = Traditional Activities + Digitial Activities / Total number of active supporters x time
I got a little lost at this point, but he summarised well:
All in all, I think Jyoti raised a few good points, but I did feel a little disappointed that there weren’t more points to instantly take away and apply from this presentation. As Account Manager at Fat Beehive I get asked this question a lot from my clients so I was hoping for some more good examples that I could share. Maybe I will just have to collate my own and share them for a future blog post…….!
If you have a good example of how you’ve increased engagement online, please do share them with us below.
Our new Business Development Manager Caroline went to Stephen Latter’s (NetXtra) presentation on “When to Take a Proprietary or Open Source Approach to Website Content Management”.
An Open Source website content management system is one in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design.
Stephen summarised why more charities are selecting an Open Source option for their content management system. Stephen highlighted six popular reasons as to why Open Source CMS are selected:
Stephen then went through some of the questions regularly raised about Proprietary CMS like our own Beekeeper CMS;
Overall, Stephen highlighted other factors that should also be considered before a decision over which CMS to use. These included, but were not restricted to – what operating system do you use? What web server do you use? What is your budget? What is the organisation’s focus and restrictions? And what other CMS are being used in the organisation?
Before we build a website at Fat Beehive, we also like to find out about the website administrator. Charities often have limited resources in terms of time available. There is not always a dedicated website administrator. Sometimes there are several people who have responsibility for updating the site, sometimes just one person. The CMS has to work for all of them.
This administrator may not have much time to update the website, so they need to be able to add content easily and quickly. When you don’t do something often, it also has to be intuitive to use.
Technical abilities also vary, you shouldn’t need to understand html or code to update a website CMS.
We’ve built our Beekeeper CMS with these things in mind, but we also provide Drupal and WordPress for those clients who have a little more technical ability and prefer Open Source. What’s most important is that you have a content management system that works for your organisation and can adapt with it’s changing needs.
If you have any questions about the content management system you are on, feel free to give the Fat Beehive team a call on 020 7739 8704.
Christmas is a time of giving, right? Giving presents…giving time, giving money?
Is your charity website ready for the Christmas spirit?
You may be running Christmas campaigns, Christmas appeals, promoting Christmas gift ideas, selling Christmas cards, recruiting Christmas volunteers. Do your users know it’s Christmas time? Are you promoting all this on your website?
Now is the time to think about how you can encourage direct supporters to visit your charity’s website. Once they’re there, how can you engage them and encourage them to give more? Here are some tips from the Fat Beehive team.
5 tips to get your website ready for Christmas
Think about what potential visitors might be typing into search engines – ‘Charity Christmas cards’, ‘donation ideas at Christmas’, ‘charity gifts’, ‘volunteer at Christmas’….. The list goes on. Then you need to think about how to add these words to your website to boost your ranking. See previous article on DIY SEO.
If you have previous volunteers or donors, maybe you can ask them what they might have searched for. Maybe you can ask them again.
There are lots of ways you can make your site look a little more festive, to encourage a merry and generous mood. For example, swap your Social Media buttons to Christmassy ones, add some holly around your donate button (like Crisis has done), make the site snow covered or have Christmas tunes playing; be creative. What can your imagination come up with?
Christmas is a good time to spring clean your site. Do all the links work? Are all the facts up-to-date? Are the images up-to-date? Do you have your latest news available? There is nothing more annoying to a user than out-of-date information or broken links.
There is a lot of competition out there for people’s money, particularly at Christmas. Is your website promoting your charity’s Christmas offering well enough? Remember every page is a potential landing page, do you have clear calls-to-actions on each page? Is your content personal, engaging, and concise? Remember the power of a good story, but also remember to give your users an easy way to support you once they’ve read it or watched your content. Show your users the real difference their support makes.
If getting online payment on your site has been on your to-do-list for months, now’s the time to do it. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, it needs to be easy for your users to do.
If you already have a shop, do you offer your users the option to add a donation to their order? Do they know you also sell charity Christmas cards? Are you desperate for volunteers? Don’t make them guess, tell them!
Ok, so you’ve managed to get new and returning visitors onto your site and you have hopefully also encouraged them to support your charity. How can you encourage them to support you all year around? Show them the impact they can make; the benefit this has to your beneficiaries. Show them your appreciation, send them a thank-you and keep in touch with them regularly. Everyone knows a dog isn’t just for Christmas, can we get them to see their support doesn’t need to be either.
This fantastic article was brought to our attention via the FairSay E-campaigners Forum. Why indeed should you be letting a third party stand between you and your supporters?
Social media is a fantastic tool, but it is just a tool. It’s important that you create a place for it, and keep it there.
2012 has seen a rise in the requests for maps from our clients and it’s easy to see why. Maps invite action from the user, so they are a great way to present data in a more interesting and interactive way. There is no need for a legend or key, the user just has to hover-over or click to find out more. It’s intuitive, you know what to do.
Our clients have used maps to highlight the project areas they work in (Thera Trust), to allow users to search for their nearest spectacle recycling point (Vision Aid Overseas) and to invite users to post their own bat sightings as part of the bat survey campaign (The Big Bat Map). Some of these maps take advantage of the advancements in Google technology, some are bespoke designs especially for the clients. If you are interested in finding out more about how you might use maps on your website, call Reena your Account Manager.
A question I get in almost every client meeting, old and new, is “how much do you charge for SEO?” Before you spend a penny, there are plenty of ways you can boost your search engine rankings yourself.
With a bit of hard work and asking the right questions, your site will climb up the organic search results. If you’ve hired the right web development company, their code should be optimised anyway, and you should be able to control keyword metadata in your content management system. The rest is up to you.
The three keys to good SEO are content, content, and content. Make the most of it by identifying keywords, getting them onto the relevant pages and in the right places on your page.
Know which key words your users are searching for, and think about what sorts of things people might type in to a search engine to find you. Your Analytics data which will show which search terms people have used to find your site – is this what you expected?
SEO companies might get you ranking first in the search results for a keyword, but if the keyword is not appropriate for what you’re saying, you’re going to increase your bounce rate too. You want to increase both the quantity and the quality of visits. Attracting visitors that will stay on your site and meet your goals.
Search engines rank your site on content via a hierarchy. This heirarchy of page title, heading one, heading two, etc. are incredibly important for boosting your results. Once you’ve identified your specific key words get them into the page titles and headings. For instance, “Drug and Alcohol Services in South London” is a much better page title or heading than “Our Services” which could apply to any charity or business.
You can load keywords onto a page and it will increase your page visits, but unless the content on that page is what that visitor actually wants and needs, it’s a pointless exercise.
Craft your pages for the people you envision landing there for the first time from a search engine. If I search for “adoption eligibility criteria”, I want to find out if I am eligible to adopt a child straight away. Put yourself in your user’s shoes, and write the content for them, including your keywords as you go.
Don’t ignore your website! Monitor it regularly and change the content. Check your Analytics and learn how to interpret the data to help you identify the most important pages.
Google Analytics has great online tutorials, and we also offer training in Google Analytics to get you started. Once you’ve learned how to make the most of Analytics, you’ll know how to omptimise your content. Sometimes it may be worth having a consultant help you with your content, or with exposure on a certain campaign, or if there is a lot of competition over the keyword you need. But most of the time, you can make a huge difference all by yourself.
We all love Google—we have even made it a verb—but why do they have to meddle all the time? A little like Facebook, they seem to be making decisions for me. They are making assumptions on what I want to see, thinking that they know me better than I know myself. Like most people, I don’t like it when people assume to know me. I am an individual and I want to be treated as such.
What am I talking about? Google’s personalised search results. If you haven’t noticed, Google have made some changes to the way your search results are filtered. What you see and what the audience of your website sees when they type in the same search terms can be very different. Why? Well, everyone’s search is based on several factors like location, the data centre being used and – this is the one I find annoying – your personalised search history.
Google takes into account your :
For a communications manager, these can cause problems when trying to measure your search engine optimisation success. If you are like me, you regularly test your key search terms by typing them into Google and seeing how you fare against the competition.
You may think you are making good progress in your search engine optimisation, but actually it’s just Google remembering your searches and bringing up your website further up the search each time. Your boss is pleased when you show him/her, but is it an accurate reflection of your hard work? You actually have no way of knowing what search results your users are seeing when they type in your key search terms without asking them.
So how can you tell if your search engine optimisation is working?
There are a couple of things you can do to make sure your optimising is making an impact:
Google is changing every day, and this won’t stop. But then the way people are using the web is also changing. I always say the most important way to drive more traffic to your website is to have the best website. If you need some help and advice on getting the most out of your website and beekeeper, remember you can have a review meeting with our new account manager at any time free of charge.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve your search engine optimisation, we have a handy blog post.
For all you Salesforce users out there, you probably already know about Cloudforce – the annual conference held for Salesforce users in London. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Salesforce is a sophisticated cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. It’s the best tool I’ve ever used and it’s free to charities and social enterprises through the Salesforce Foundation. Every year they have two massive events, Dreamforce in San Francisco and Cloudforce in London.
This year Matt and I joined the other 14,000 registered users, developers and ‘not-yet-converted’ potential customers to find out the latest news from Salesforce. Boy, were we excited! Cloudforce is like a West End show with lots of whooping and clapping and dancing! I’m not kidding, they had people in costume dancing on stage while we waited for the speakers to be clapped and cheered on stage.
I think if we didn’t already know how brilliant Salesforce was, we may have thought they were all a bunch of lunatics and run to the wine conference being held next door instead, but Salesforce really is an amazing tool, and any charity would be a fool to pass up the offer of 10 free licenses from The Salesforce Foundation. Frankly it makes us feel like dancing too.
We’ve successfully integrated it with many of our client’s websites to do amazing time saving things. Examples include:
A good example of how to integrate your CRM with your website is the work we’ve been doing with Bond. As a membership organisation, Bond use Beekeeper to manage the static content on the website and Salesforce to manage their contacts and events, along with other information not made publicly available via the website.
Rather than duplicating the data that was already stored in Salesforce for the website, we were able to connect securely to the Salesforce database and populate the website content.
For example, by recognising a member based on their login credentials the website can provide a customised interface, provide information about their organisation or allow access restricted content. The website also recognises users on an individual basis allowing them to specify preferences about their email communication, subscriptions to special interest groups and edit contact information.
Many parts of the site are designed to provide maximum benefit to members with minimal interaction from administrative staff. This takes away the need for manual data entry which reduces the margin for error and cuts administrative time.
If you want to learn more about how to integrate your website with your crm system, get in touch for a free review meeting.