6 Nonprofit Web Design Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

By Ilia Jones | July 2021



Your website should be something that elevates your message and showcases your nonprofit as a trustworthy organization. However, due to (unfortunately common) budget constraints and stretched thin marketing teams, sometimes your website sends a message that you don't even realize. 

To bring attention to this issue, here are a few bad habits we often see in nonprofit web design. 

1. Not Mobile Friendly

If your website still isn't mobile-friendly in 2021, you are officially missing out. More traffic than ever is happening on handheld devices. With the rise in social media, all your hard work raising brand awareness may be falling flat if your website isn't prepared to handle mobile traffic. 


If your website isn't mobile-optimized at all, maybe it's time to switch website platforms or even time for a complete redesign. Today, most website platforms offer mobile optimization out of the box, so gaining a mobile-friendly site is an automatic perk of a redesign. 

Or, if your website is optimized for mobile but isn't performing well, it's time to take a look at the design elements you're using and make some adjustments. 

2. Inconsistent Branding and Design

Your nonprofit organization may not have the budget of a major brand. However, it can still present itself cohesively and consistently. Your website design should use a consistent color theme and be easy to use, so your visitors don't end up clicking around aimlessly. If it's not, you could be losing people's attention before they've even learned what your organization is all about. 


Review your branding guide to find your official brand colors. Then check your website to ensure that your color scheme and branding are consistent.

Keep the number of different colors to a minimum and opt for shades of your color palette instead of a rainbow, which can look chaotic. 

3. No Clear Direction

If someone is visiting your website for the first time, they probably need some information and a little direction. Photos and text can create compelling stories, but too much of either can be overwhelming. Additionally, navigation that is hidden blends in with the background or isn't descriptive can make for a frustrating user experience. 


Ensure that your navigation is clear, not cute or quirky or trying too hard to be clever. 

Use headlines and other features to break up text and use buttons to send users to pages with additional information on a specific topic.

Additionally, forms (especially your donation form) should be easy to use. Collect only the necessary information. 

4. No Calls to Action 

If your calls to action are hidden at page bottoms or blend in with your color scheme, they will be easily skipped over. No one wants to come across as aggressive or needy, but if you want people to donate or follow you on social media? You have to tell them! 


Clear, concise calls to action work, so use them. Use buttons or other design elements that differentiate the CTA from the rest of the text.

Ensure your calls to action are prominent, concise and action-focused. Be clear and direct in your language.

5. Not Showing Value

Your website visitors should know your organization's goal and mission as soon as they arrive. In addition, you should also be working hard to gain their trust. If you can't describe or quantify the value you're adding or the problem you're solving, then you will lose people. 


Don't be shy; share your "why! "Make sure your organization's mission statement and values are easy to find. 

Use infographics and other visuals to highlight areas where your organization has made a difference. Be specific and use data to back up your stories to make them more compelling. 

Highlighting case studies or personal interest stories that put a face to your efforts. Humanizing an issue is a great way to inspire others. 

6. Not Introducing Your Organization

You may know your nonprofit's origin story by heart or think it's not exciting. However, people will be curious about how your organization came to be. They want to know what your goals are and how you've grown and changed over the years. If you're not providing background and history on your organization, you're missing an opportunity to make a connection with people. 


Your About Us page is a chance to win people over and inspire them. It is also essential in gaining trust and showing integrity. People are more willing to trust an organization with a history of making a difference. 

Stay away from dry dates and timelines. This isn't a history class. Use storytelling to share your origin story, inspiration and scrappy beginnings. Then show gratitude as you share how much you've grown. 

Bonus Bad Habit: Not Getting Help When You Need It

If your nonprofit organization's website is guilty of any of these bad habits, it might be time for a change. And we're here to help.

At ArcStone, we have over fifteen years of experience designing websites that work for nonprofit organizations like yours. To learn more about how a new website can help you increase donations and gain volunteers, contact us today. 


Topics: Nonprofit Help