5 lessons from improving and adapting our website

Here Kathryn Dingle, Communications and Content lead for the Inspiring Impact programme discusses the learning from the last few years of the programme’s digital journey.

Published:12th February 2020

The Inspiring Impact programme is in its 8th year. We have been through four website builds (including the most recent merger of two websites) and developed several iterations of digital tools like Measuring up. Since joining NPC I have been involved in three website builds and I wanted to share some learning from across the team. 

1) Search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial for website traffic, especially when you develop a new website. SEO aims to increase the quantity of traffic to your website and your brand, through search engine results. Organisations use SEO to connect with users by understanding what people are searching for online, the phrases they are using and the format of content they are looking for. In practice we learnt two key lessons:

  • New website content: A new and improved website with lots of content is great, but it also has issues. Even if your URL doesn’t change, a newly built website is a new website to Google. Google will treat you the same as it would a brand new website.
  • Being jargon-free: As a programme, we offer straightforward impact measurement support with minimal jargon. This is great for the consumption of content but has complications for SEO. Without the right keywords, you won’t be reaching the right people. You are more likely to attract the right users when you use familiar phrases within your meta-descriptions and write page titles in a friendly way.

For example:

Page titles

A page called ‘Improve your work’ isn’t helpful, but the title ‘How to use your evaluation insights to improve your work’ is much more self-explanatory and simple.

Keywords in meta-descriptions

The Measuring up meta description used to be ‘Free questionnaire to help charities improve their impact measurement.’

This has now been changed to ‘Measuring up is a free step by step assessment questionnaire that charities can use to improve their impact measurement.’

2) Get external help when you need it. After launching our latest website, our website traffic went down (due to the points above). We knew we needed to do something, but we weren’t clear on the best way to use our limited time and budget. So we sought external support from the agency Superbeing Labs. Superbeing Labs diagnosed the problem and made recommendations to improve our SEO and content. Their support helps us to prioritise and ask ourselves the right questions.

3) Iterative development is always ongoing. Across Inspiring Impact activities, we use data and experience to adapt and improve our delivery, but this has confirmed the importance of always iterating. User testing was crucial for the development of any website and will always be important throughout the lifespan of a website. A website isn’t a static document; it is live content that should evolve based on user needs. You can facilitate this by tracking engagement with your content (find out more below.) We have just found ways to simplify our user journey based on feedback.

4) It’s easy to become too focused on the quantity of engagement rather than the quality of engagement with key content. We track overall website users and page views, but these numbers in isolation do not tell us much about how people are actually using the website. People could be visiting the website and going round in circles for 4 minutes before leaving.

We are interested in the actions that people take as a result of our content and how they use the content. We track this using tools such as Google Analytics goals and Hotjar heat maps.

Our KPIs will focus on answering the below questions:

  • How are users getting to our website?
  • How many of our users are bouncing?
  • How many users are taking action on our pages?
  • Where are our users dropping off?
  • How are our users navigating the site?
  • How much time is spent on each page? Is it appropriate? Is it enough time to engage with the content?

5) Many people find us through trusted referrals. We know that the majority of our users come to us through referrals from other organisations rather than through organic searches (partly due to the issues mentioned above.) This shaped our communications priorities, so we focus more on disseminating our content through other organisations channels. This works best when we build a relationship with key contacts within organisations and make it as easy as possible for them to promote Inspiring Impact by providing them with stock text and images.

What’s next?

All of this learning has led to us improving and adapting the site. It is still a work in progress (quite rightly so!) and we are keen to keep improving. If you have any questions or want to share more please do get in touch with me. kathryn.dingle@thinknpc.org

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