Online Writing: It’s All About Answers and Actions

Image by CJ Sorg on Flickr

Does this belong on our website? What should go on our home page? How can I make our website more user-friendly? How can we grab our website visitors’ attention and keep it?

My answers to these very common questions from nonprofits usually include some form of this response: It’s all about the answers your website visitors are seeking and the actions they want to take on your site. If you focus on making your site about answers and actions, you’ll successfully address the concerns behind these questions. (Learn more about online writing during this Thursday’s webinar.)

Answer Your Visitors’ Questions

People use the Web to find answers to their questions. What questions would someone have when they come to your website? That will all depend on what it is you do, but let’s look at a few examples.

If you run a local humane society, people will have questions about adopting pets.

If you run a Meals on Wheels program, people will have questions about receiving meals and delivering meals as a volunteer.

If you run a “Save the Squirrels” group, people will have questions about why the squirrels need saving and what they can do to help you save them.

Figure out the top three questions people have related to your group’s work and make the answers prominent on your website — on your home page and in your site navigation. Immediately upon visiting your site, visitors should either see the answers or see where to click to get them.

Make It Easy for Your Visitors to Act

In addition to finding answers to their questions, website visitors also want to take actions online, and they expect those actions to be easy and time-saving over doing it in person or over the phone.

Let’s look at the same three organizations and review the actions visitors would like to take on their websites.

If you run a humane society, it would be great for visitors to see which pets are currently available for adoption and to fill in adoption forms online (or at least print them out and start them on paper).

If you run a Meals on Wheels program, visitors will want to apply for meal delivery and complete forms to volunteer online.

If you run a “Save the Squirrels” group, visitors will want to advocate for the squirrels in some way, such as by signing a petition or sending an email to an elected official.

And, of course, every nonprofit should let visitors sign-up for an email newsletter and donate online.

Learn More

Want more online writing tips? Don’t miss this Thursday’s webinar: Online Writing: Dos and Don’ts of Writing for the Web and Email, Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.



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  • I am bookmarking this posts to share with clients. It’s one of those things where the information is somewhat obvious, but you really need someone else to point it out to you. Thanks.

  • We’re looking to change our newsletters and are trying to find way to increase our donor base. This is very helpful! Thank you!