Considerations when designing a third sector website

About - Considerations when designing a third sector website

Having a well-designed website is of vital importance for any non-profit, as it is the primary means for people to find out about your organisation.

Whether they want to learn about what you do, your services, values or how they can get involved, your website will be anyone’s first port of call. The information they find will often be a determining factor in whether you gain the support of that person.

Upon visiting a website, people will make a decision about an organisation in seconds, so the way you design it is instrumental in influencing how many people interact with your cause.

In this post, we will outline 4 important aspects which you need to have in place before building your website; your goals, knowledge of your customer groups, brand aesthetic and sustainability.


One of the most important things to determine before building your website is exactly what you want your website to achieve and the purpose you want it to serve.

You may have specific goals for the growth and improvement of your organisation, and your website can help you to achieve these. With clear aims, you will be able to tailor your website to meet them, putting whatever is most important to you at the forefront of what you present to the public.

Ultimately, websites are informative, and need to give people detailed information about an organisation. However, there will also be specific actions you want people to take, or overall outcome goals that will vary depending on your cause.

Here are some examples of goals you may set for your website:

          Increase donations (see our post on how to increase donor retention for more tips)

          Gain more email subscribers

          Increase social media following

          Increase awareness of an issue

          Increase attendees to events

          Sell more memberships

          Sell more products

Once you know your goals, you can design your website accordingly. This could involve positioning information relating to your most important aims in the most noticeable areas of the website.

You may add donate buttons or links to social media and events in a visible place such as the top banner or the home page, so that people don’t have to scroll to find these. You may also adapt the language you use in your text to emphasise what is most important to you and persuade people to take the action you want them to.


It is likely that you will have a range of different stakeholders in your organisation and each of these people will be interested in you for different reasons.

Some examples of stakeholders in a nonprofit organisation may be:

          Members of the organisation and volunteers

          Investors, donators, and supporters

          Service users and beneficiaries

          Members of the local community

          Other voluntary organisations in the area

Being completely different from one another, members of each of these groups may be visiting your website for different reasons and will require different outcomes from the visit.

For example, people who are new to the organisation will need more general information about the organisation’s work and values as well as contact details. Long-time investors may only be looking for updates on projects and specific case studies.

Therefore it is important to be aware of your customer groups, what information you want them to get from the website, and what action you want them to take as a result of this. For example, you may want some people to donate, some to sign up for services and some to share information on social media.

Having a good knowledge of each customer group and the desired actions of each, you can design your website so that there are different pages, user journeys and messaging depending on the specific needs of each visitor to the website.

DESIGN  – aesthetics and ease


Although the most important function of a website is to be informative, information is not simply conveyed with words, but with the overall look of the website too.

If a website looks unprofessional people will be less likely to engage, so it is important to keep a simple, clean design that is pleasant to look at and stands out.

It is also important to have a clear brand identity, meaning that people will automatically recognise your website as belonging to your organisation. This can be achieved through having consistency in aspects of your design such as logos, colour scheme and fonts.

Having a professional looking design will also make people feel more trusting towards your organisation, a factor which is particularly important when you are asking people for donations of their time or money.


Another aspect of the design of a website is simplicity and ease of navigation. People have short attention spans and if it takes too long to find the information they want, they are likely to give up quickly. Therefore, information should be readily available, and the homepage and navigation bar should provide clear directions around the website.

Any processes should also be as quick as possible and it should require a minimal amount of clicks to complete any action. For example, for people to donate, there should be an obvious, detectable button with a simple process to complete donation.


Consider the future when building and desiging a website. You may want to develop something later on which may or may not be possible depending on who builds it or what it is built using.

One thing we see time and time again are charities or social enterprise that have a website but cannot edit themselves or don’t have access to make changes. This can lead to problems in speed of updates on your website as well as increases in costs. With the technologies available now, any website designer should be able to give you full control of the website once built or at the very least allow you to make changes and add new pages.


Agency For Good are an ethical marketing agency.

We provide completely free marketing consultancy, coaching and training to 3rd sector organisations to help you focus and improve your income and in turn your social impact.

In 2019 we delivered 419 hours to 111 charities and social enterprise and we want to increase this to 500 hours this year so please get in touch.

We also provide high quality but subsidised web design, graphic design, video, social media, SEO, PR and copywriting services.

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