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How To Audit Your Nonprofit Website and Improve Results

In the quest to constantly improve the effectiveness of your nonprofit website, you will need to periodically audit the site. Each time you do, you will be looking for areas of improvement based on specific goals you have as an organization. Using goals, not supposed web standards or someone’s opinion about what “best practices” are, to evaluate your website is the key ingredient to a successful website audit.

List Specific Goals

The first step in the auditing process is to list specific goals that you want to accomplish through your website. The goals you are looking for are ones that can be counted numerically. For example, a goal could be the number of new e-mail subscribers you added to your list in the last month. Another goal could be the quantity of online donations you have received. Each goal must be written down for evaluation and testing against the data your website provides you with.

Determine the Best Way to Measure Those Goals

Next, look for every way those goals can be measured and reported. We call those “traps”. Do you have mechanisms in place to capture the information you need? Are reports available to help you quickly audit these metrics? Every goal must be measurable so that you can conduct experiments that will increase them. This is the concept behind a popular idea called “growth hacking”.

Follow the Process Backwards

From the end goal, follow the process backwards to the beginning of a visitor’s session. For example, for a donor to give on the website, they need a form to process their donation. That form should be on a page with a convincing donor appeal. To get to that page, they should be led there by buttons, e-mails, social media links, and more. At every step of the way backwards, you want to look at each of these systems and ensure that they are the best, easiest, and quickest routes from the next step.

Make One Change at a Time

To understand what individual components are more effective than others, it’s important to treat the process like an experiment. Only change one piece of the process at a time and wait. The idea is gradual, sustainable growth and progress. Sometimes, however, you may find that the entire process is broken. In those cases, move quickly to redesign, following the process backwards once again to ensure that the emphasis is always on the result not solely on the beginning presentation. If you want to be more aggressive about it, create multiple versions and test them against each other, a process called A/B testing.

Final Thoughts

The reason you have a website as a nonprofit organization is to produce results such as increases in donations, supporters, volunteers, and people to serve. Periodically, plan to audit your entire web presence, including your “outposts” like social media and inbound links. Follow the processes you have set up and improve them over time. Do this at least once a month to see dramatic increases in everything you do.

Bonus Action Point: Write just one goal down and follow the process backwards to audit your website for that goal. Think about each step and what you can do to improve the probability that the end goal will be the result of the visitor’s actions. Make one improvement to the process and ensure that there is a way to measure that increase in a reliable way.

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