This is a guest post contributed by Ira Horowitz at Cornershop Creative.
Whether you’re a nonprofit professional with years of experience or a new volunteer for a grassroots-level community group, you know that successful advocacy efforts depend on your group’s ability to mobilize its supporters. The more voices you have calling for change related to your specific cause, the more likely you are to be heard by the stakeholders who hold the power to create that change.
In order to involve as many people as possible in your advocacy campaign, you’ll need the help of a mission-critical resource: an advocacy website. A well-designed website can serve many purposes, from helping you to market your cause and secure donations to hosting educational resources your fellow advocates need to take action for your cause.
Designing (or revamping) an advocacy website can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the world of web design. But luckily, with the right tips and tools, you can get your own website up and running in no time, driving more awareness for your cause.
In this post, we’ll walk you through three things you should know about creating an eye-catching website for your advocacy organization. These tips will help you approach the process with confidence and an eye to your larger advocacy goals. Let’s dive in.
The first step in building an advocacy website is choosing which website builder (also known as a content management system or CMS) you’ll use. There are a number of popular options to choose from, like Squarespace, HubSpot, Drupal, and our favorite, WordPress.
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders out there, with 37% of all websites on the internet using it, as of 2021. And there are definitely some perks that come with using such a popular platform. According to Cornershop Creative’s guide to WordPress for nonprofits, “WordPress has a vast community support network of web developers, consultants, and experts in troubleshooting technical issues. If you run into any trouble while building your website…help is just a Google search away.”
On top of an extensive community of users to lean on, WordPress is a user-friendly platform that allows you to build the site you want without extensive coding experience.
WordPress also offers users the chance to create a highly-customized website. With a large library of themes and templates available, you can choose a pre-built layout to build your site on, customizing it with your organization’s brand elements as you go. For example, you might customize your chosen theme with the color scheme your nonprofit uses, or your political organization’s logo and imagery style.
WordPress is a great website builder for organizations looking to take the design of their website into their own hands. But if you want to pass off the process of WordPress website development to a professional, be sure to partner with a website design agency that specializes in WordPress and understands the needs of an organization like yours. They can help you take customization and functionality to the next level and be a long-term source of support for ongoing site maintenance and troubleshooting.
Once you have the look of your website ironed out, it’s time to populate it with useful content. Not sure what content to add? Start by stepping into your target audience’s shoes. Think through what you would want to know if you landed on your organization’s website without knowing anything about your campaign or organization.
You can also take some inspiration from this list of popular types of advocacy website content:
If you’re working with a nonprofit web design company, they can help you build out the resources on your website. With their perspective on design, they can help you decide how best to feature your resources in a way that will get your website visitors engaging with them while still maintaining smooth navigation and top-notch functionality.
The goal of your advocacy work is to get a lot of people backing your cause and advocating for change. So, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally shut out an entire group of people. This is where web accessibility comes into play.
Optimizing your website for accessibility is the process of ensuring that people of all abilities can navigate your site and take advantage of the resources you provide. It may sound like this would require a lot of extra effort on your part, but in reality, by making your website accessible, you’re only doing your cause a favor by expanding your potential audience.
Here are a few ways you or your designer can boost the accessibility of your site:
For a more in-depth look at accessibility, explore the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium. You can also get an idea of how well your web pages are optimized for accessibility by using Google Lighthouse, which will give individual pages an accessibility score out of 100 and offer general suggestions for improvement.
Successful advocacy relies on a large community committed to your cause, and one of the best ways to grow your community and provide them with the tools they need to further your work is to create an advocacy website.
Use these three tips to get started building an advocacy website that your organization can rely on and use to see its goals through to the finish line. You’ve got this!