Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox for March 12 (always a must-read e-newsletter) covers “10 High-Profit Redesign Priorities.” The tips are focused on ROI — return on investment — for commercial sites, but many of the tips are applicable to nonprofits too. Here are a few of my favorites, with some comments.

— Publish an email newsletter, if you aren’t already. It’s the perfect way to stay connected with someone who has visited your website. Make the sign-up form highly visible (include it in your template so it appears on every major page) and keep the form simple (don’t ask for a life history — name and email should do it). Email newsletters are cheap to distribute and as Jakob points out, they help liberate your site from being dependent on search engines.

— Differentiation and comparisons. Jakob talks about products and services, but the concept applies to nonprofits too. How does your nonprofit and what you do vary from what other similar organizations are doing? Website visitors want to know they are in the right place and how your work is the same or different from groups they are already familiar with.

For example, my husband works for the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. People always want to know if his organization is like the Trust for Public Land or The Nature Conservancy. While they all work in land conservation, they come at it with different priorities and approaches. TPL cares more about public parklands, TNC cares more about wildlife habitat, and CTNC cares more about protecting farmland and scenic byways from development. Their websites are fairly clear about these distinctions. If your organization is in a similar situation, clear up the confusion for your site visitors.

–Support for reordering (or for nonprofits, renewing). It annoys me when I can’t renew my nonprofit memberships or annual support online. I really like when I can login and the site automatically fills in data like my address. It’s a great timesaver.

Create a valuable site for your visitors by giving them the information they want, letting them save time by working online, and making it easy to stay in touch with you.

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