2017 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference Recap

When it comes to the world of nonprofits and digital marketing, a key player in brand awareness is your organization’s website. At the 2017 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference, sitting in a session on the opportunities and pitfalls of website launches helped provide key insight into the successful ways nonprofits should build a new website or revamp an existing one.

With Catherine Hyde and John Harrison of Enterprise Community Partners, it was website brass tacks and how to dodge the foreseeable obstacles to a successful website launch and how to set reasonable expectations. They narrowed it to the following important elements:

  1. Those closest to the project should consider getting a UX Design certification. This allows you to be a more well-versed set of eyes as a check-and-balance on the web developers.
  2. Generate/edit content ahead of time. This way, you know exactly what copy you want on the website and this helps save time fitting it into the design later on.
  3. Set reasonable timelines and a realistic launch date. Think Rome was truly built in a day? Factor in concept, design, content updating or generation, wireframe review, revisions, unforeseen circumstances that put key stakeholders out of the game for periods of time that could hold the project up. A website makeover could take anywhere from 10 – 16 weeks. Decide what’s best based on where this falls on your organization’s priority scale.
  4. Establish a rule in which no one gets to say, “I want, you do.” You want? You do! Or, the party who wants something has to learn how long something takes to do in order to have complete understanding of what’s being asked.
  5. Make a determination early on of what category key stakeholders fall under, and only share information with them on that level to avoid a lot of back and forth. The categories are Responsible (core team involved), Accountable (it’s on you to respond), Consulted (opinion requested, not needed), and Informed (surface level knowledge).
  6. Decide the best way to utilize time. A one-hour meeting with six people is six hours of time spent. Maybe 15-minute huddles every morning of ‘where things are’ work better with everyone’s schedules; find what works best so everyone’s time is best used.
  7. Use tools to comment right on the wireframes. Need feedback from those in the ‘Responsible’ or ‘Accountable’ stakeholder categories? Find free wire framing tools that allow for notes to be made right on the wireframes. Whatever you do, keep edits and revisions OUT of email so you don’t miss any important ones.
  8. Never show the final product before it’s ready. So, you have a beta test website that you’re really proud of. As much as you may want to share it prematurely, hold off. Not everyone knows the little design edits or copy shifting you know still need to be made; receiving all of the questions and input before it’s fully ‘live’ will give you an extra headache you just don’t need.
  9. Celebrate the launch! And get straight to fixing the inevitable bugs.

You’ve made it to the finish line! But remember, when it comes to digital, not everyone loves change and there will definitely still be some kinks to work out. You just have to be confident enough in your process leading to the final product.

Websites are crucial to a brand’s identity and should at least be revisited as a whole every three to five years to decide on an update or revamp. Keep these tips to website launch success, and you’ll nail it every time!

Catherine McClary enjoys using creative strategies and best practices to enhance the digital presence of clients.