The best modern web tools are simple and affordable. They often serve a wide group by being dedicated to one clear task and don't offer much customisation. Do you think your website should be such a tool?
Here we unpack the core purpose of charity website design and take a look at what a good charity website platfrom should include.
Can you have good design without it being customised to you?
Every mass produced product is made this way. No-one expects a custom designed Computer, iPhone or Word editor yet we can appreciate good design in all of these. The answer lies in the fact that good design fulfils a purpose. If a product is designed with care, it will work well for you and for the next person. Your needs will have been considered without anyone asking you directly.
Just because you can commission a custom designed website, does that mean it's the best option for you? Not necessarily.
The purpose of design
There are four fundamental tenets of good website design.
To reinforce your brand and build trust
To enable intuitive navigation
To help illustrate and communicate your content
To encourage users to take action
With a good website platform you will be able to uphold these without having to specify any bespoke changes saving you loads of time and money.
1) Good design reinforces your brand and builds trust
It is crucial that your website is branded, recognition and consistency build trust. All you need is the ability to personalise your name, logo, colours, fonts and photos.
If you have clear brand guidelines, then creating a personalised website doesn't need to be a long, iterative process. Your Visual ID can all be integrated into a standard website without modifying any core functionality.
If you don't have brand guidelines then you will need to go through a consultative design process to create a Visual ID. Yet this is still very separate from the functionality of your website and doesn't require the platform to be customised to you.
2) Good design enables intuitive navigation
This is an area where deferring to expertise is wise. There are tried and tested design patterns that allow people to understand websites. Good website navigation should include:
- Obvious primary navigation
- Section menus for browsing
- Guiding signposts
- Clear links and action buttons
- All the above optimised for mobile
A navigation structure that is built according to best practice will work faultlesly and feel intuitive to the user. You don't need to know details of the hundreds of decisions made behind the scenes about alignment, spacing, text size and link style. You just need to know that you can adapt the menu structure to suit your content and that the design will accommodate you all the way.
3) Good design illustrates and communicates content
Your content is the core of your website. It's what your visitors are here for.
Your content sits in discreet fields of the website that you have control over. Content design reinforces your copy visually. A good website platform will give you complete control to add photos and illustrations to your content but professional help can be very effective.
The best way to achieve a visually interesting website is often good content that is well illustrated. Attempting to 'decorate' the theme with extra graphics will only serve to make the website more confusing and distract users from your content.
4) Good design encourages users to take action
You want your users to take action. Most common actions involve filling in a form. These might include:
- Subscribing to your mailing list
- Sending you a message
- Making a donation
- Registering for an event
- Buying from your shop
- Offering to volunteer
- Filling in an application
A good website platform will offer a series of built in forms. Email subscriptions can be integrated directly with MailChimp. donations, event registrations and shop transactions can all be handled on-site. Volunteer and applications forms can be configured by you to include the fields you need. Simplicity and seamless integration here will make the difference between a frustrating and a joyous user experience.
The White Fuse Platform
And that is why we built the White Fuse Platform. We decided to put all this into our own practice. Our platform includes dozens of predefined functions and design patterns while offering flexibility where we know you need it.
Update: this post was originally published in April 2015 and has been revamped and updated to the current version.