We have worked with nearly every website building tool out there- like, all of them. There are a lot, and it can be very overwhelming for anyone to make decisions about what is most important to include in your website. Have you thought about hierarchy of pages linked in your top navigation bar? Do you have landing pages chained together? Are you able to customize colors and site themes to stay on brand for your organization? How prominently should you display a call to action button, which is the right call to action, and on which pages should you include them?

There is a lot to consider when building your website. The most successful sites are ones who have 3 things in common. The first is that every possible action on the site has been crafted with a well thought-out user journey built around your community engagement ladder. Next, you have to keep your messaging clear and not overly complicated. And finally (most importantly) the website serves as more than just a billboard broadcasting your message outward, but instead provides opportunities for you to capture valuable information about your supporters and what they really care about. Here are a few ideas for how you can optimize your site to drive supporters, members, and donors towards highest levels of engagement

1. Build an engagement ladder: Having worked with thousands of nonprofits on building fundraising strategy, we’ve found that most people have heard of, and have a cursory understanding of what an engagement ladder is, but very few have gone through the process of building one out. Make sure you’re identifying all the valuable ways your community can engage with you, and provide them opportunities to take appropriate action. It should be clear, simple, and straightforward so your supporters don’t have to work hard to figure out how they can get involved.

2. Keep your messaging clear and succinct: Believe it or not, most people who are coming to your website aren’t going to read everything. We all tend to get a little internally focused when it comes to putting our website and online presence together. Think about what your community and supporters care about. Put their needs and interests front and center. Believe me, you’ll make a much bigger impact if you make our “About us” section smaller than your “Get involved” section.

3. Build an action-based website, NOT a billboard: Nearly every day we see a new website that’s been built to do a LOT of information-sharing. Every organization has a mission, vision and program information that are important to share. However, if your website serves as just an  information-dump, we guarantee you’re losing opportunity to gather information about your current and could-be supporters. Do you have volunteer signup pages? Event RSVP opportunities? A variety of ways to drive people towards a membership or donation page? Any place for people to submit questions or ideas to you? The more opportunities you have for people to take action on your website, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn about what your supporters care about, how they want to be involved, and tailor your future communications with them in a very personal way.

Building a website can be overwhelming, but focusing on these three strategies will help you stand out from the noise, and build deeper relationships with your supporters.