Imagine you’re searching the internet for a solution to a problem you have. You hit Google and start typing keywords to search, or you might even type in your entire question. Google throws thousands of possible matches at you. As you browse the links, you find a few that look relevant. Clicking through, you land on a blog post, various articles, and websites.

Now think about this: how much time do you give to each of those websites? How long will you allow yourself to look at a website before you move on?

User research tells us that number is about five to ten seconds.

Unless the website is clear in its purpose, you are going to leave. Unless the website can get you to care – unless it can make a connection with you – you will leave. And when you do, that website has lost any chance of telling you its story, its solution, its purpose.

When working with nonprofits, I always start with one simple question:

Why should I care?

Over the years I’ve found that’s the main question that people visiting your website are asking themselves. There’s a lot of noise in the world today, all vying for our attention, and we don’t have time for it all. It’s our job as communicators and creatives to tell a story that helps people understand why they should care.

Getting Users to Care

Getting users to care can be a challenge, but we need to focus first on what your nonprofit stands for. What is the defining purpose of the organization? Having clarity of your organizational focus and goals will help you better craft a website that will resonate with users.

But simply telling your users the organizational purpose isn’t enough. We need to craft copy, images, and design for emotional clarity – to give people a reason to care. I find the best place to start is to look inwards at what prompted you to get involved with the cause you’re working for.

You wouldn’t be doing the work if you didn’t believe in the cause. What got you to dedicate your life and your career to this cause? What risks did you take to get here? Did you quit your job for this work? Did your worldview change when you found out about this cause?

Your users have the same questions, fears, and desire to make an impact. The key to our work is to realize that there is a real human on the other side of the computer. Just because we can’t see the user doesn’t mean they’re not real. They have real needs, fears, desires, and problems they are trying to solve in their own lives.

A Few Questions to Think Through

These are a few questions from our free guide & worksheets on getting to know your audience. You can get the full guide and worksheets here.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  •  What or who do we stand for? What one single thing?
  •  What sets us apart from all the other organizations working in the same field or cause?
  • What do they already know about our cause?

About Their Values

  • What’s important to them?
  • What makes them angry?
  • Where do they spend their time? Money?
  • Does religion play an important role in their value system? If so, what is it? Do they make decisions based on those beliefs?