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Website Design for United Way Organizations

Non-profit organizations are tasked with accomplishing more with less. Between budget constraints and the demand for information, United Way organizations must find new ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. This requires creativity and maximizing every resource possible.

One tool that many United Ways either do not use to its fullest potential or use at all is a website.

Just as businesses use the web to promote their company, products and services, United Way organizations can use the web to promote events, awareness and fundraisers. Unlike other forms of advertising, website posts and social media are free.

Events such as weather warnings, amber alerts or other emergencies can be immediately communicated on websites and social media.

These are all great features with many tangible benefits. However, questions are often raised about how much volume actually visits a well-run United Way website.

The number one improvement for most websites to make it to become responsive, which means that the site delivers a great user experience whether the web visitor is using a computer, tablet or phone to view the website. How important is a responsive website design to the United Way? A story posted in the Harvard Business Review in 2013 by Pew Internet stated that:
• 55% of Americans said they used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012.
• 31% of these mobile internet users said that was the primary way they access the web.

There is a belief that minorities and low income adults are not mobile web users. The Pew Internet study refuted this claim with the following data:
• 51% of black Americans and 42% of Hispanic Americans who used a mobile device to access the internet say that’s the primary way they go online.
• People whose household income is less than $30,000 per year and people with less than a college education are also more likely to rely on their mobile devices for access – about 40% of people in these groups say they primarily use their cell phone to go online.

This data proves that regardless of the area’s demographics or income, a responsive website is absolutely necessary.

Now that we know that a website is needed, how should it be structured and what should it include? While the answers to these two questions will vary depending on each United Way organizations needs, there are some generalities to follow.

From a structure standpoint, user experience and the flow of information is extremely important. Not everything can be on the home page. It is important to design the site so that pages contain useful information that easily found but without pages full of clutter. Having menus and drop down boxes to give visitors options will dramatically improve the user experience.

As for what to include on the website, here are some ideas that will apply to most United Way websites:
• Pages with updateable content, plus the ability for the staff to directly add additional pages. This is important for time sensitive or important information that needs to be added or updated.
• Slideshows and multiple photo galleries.
• PDF downloads including;
• Reports
• Marketing materials
• Event fliers
• Applications
• Calendars
• Newsletter signup
• Contact form
• Contact info 
• Current weather
• Integration of social media links 
• Resource information for users
• 2-1-1 database search function

In summary, a well-designed, responsive United Way website can be a great investment that returns improved efficiency, constituent satisfaction and free advertising for a United Way organization.

Just having a website is not enough. An optimized responsive website can significantly increase the amount of traffic visiting the website. The importance of responsiveness will continue to increase as more and more community members transition their internet usage from computers to phones and tablets.

MIBS TOP has experience working with non-profits, businesses and municipalities. When the time comes for your United Way to seek bids for a new website or an update to your current website, please make sure to include the professionals at MIBS on the bid list.

About MIBS TOP:

MIBS TOP is the best website development company in the Pittsburgh area. We currently have staff in Cranberry Township, Butler and New Castle and are looking to add more staff in other parts of the city. Thankfully, we all have cars and valid driver’s licenses, so if you are not specifically in one of those areas, we can still work with you!