Read time: 8 min. In one of our S2 newsletters, (which you can subscribe to by doing a clicky-clicky at the button below this post) we discussed some quick pointers on typical pitfalls of nonprofit design. Whether you choose to work with us or not, or you’re a designer yourself, here are ten considerations to think about when designing for nonprofits.

Of course, as our in-house UX expert, likes to say, “It depends.” As with any rule, knowing the guidelines can generally tell you whether or not it is a good decision to break that rule and there are always real-life constraints such as whether creating that function is in scope for the project budget and timeline. 


#1 Thou Shall Not Make a Resource Library 

Thou shall not make a resource library if there is not infrastructure or staff to support its maintenance, collection, and selection of what should be featured.


#2 Thou Shall Not Add a Search Bar

If there isn’t the capacity to tag everything and develop a user-tested and top user task prioritized tagging system with an appropriate taxonomy this is a no-go.


#3 Thou Shall Not Override Design Process Toward the Tail End

We cannot stress the importance of having ALL of the pertinent stakeholders in the room from start to finish. Yes, a website takes up time but not having someone part of that process from the start can be detrimental as any change without context could be perceived in a negative way and as a society, we are conditioned to give criticism more so than positive feedback.

Of course, that’s an entirely different topic, but the point being, always have all of the stakeholders in the room for decision making, always ask for feedback throughout the process, and that’s how you ensure a design that everyone in the organization can agree upon.


#4 Thou Shall Not Turn the FAQs Into a Dumping Ground

We’re taking a page from Marie Kondo here. Once you’ve decided what content sparks joy and what doesn’t anymore, the next step is finding a home for each piece of content. This means that unless the content you are placing in the FAQ is truly a frequently asked question and by placing it in the FAQ you are shortening the amount of people power it takes to answer the question, then you need to ask yourself if that content truly belongs there. 


#5 Thou Shall Not Lead Users Away From The Site

Because most nonprofit workers are so helpful and eager to share, there is a tendency to add many links as resources to their website. However, from a user experience standpoint, this doesn’t serve the site as a whole because it leads users away from the website instead of keeping the user on the site exploring the content that exists there or funneling users toward the organization’s goals.

The exception is if the organization is a hub for users and this has been backed by user research via top task survey, a survey used to determine what users are going on the site for and where they are visiting things the most, and in that case the organization’s goals are to lead people to those resources so having links away from the site makes sense.


While we’ve outlined some generic scenarios here, it always depends on the conditions, situation, and context of the project. If you’ve got a situation you’re unsure about, send us an inquiry via our intake form and we’ll work together to find the right solution for you!

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