I n talking about design for organizations, an important aspect of the classes I teach, credibility immediately comes to mind. How your website and material look makes or breaks your credibility. If you have a mishmash of uncoordinated content or your website looks
When with organizations, I have them collect everything they have done in print or digital formats (letters, emails, brochures, business cards, website, social media, etc.), lay it out, and examine copy and visual; these apparently separate items have to work together consistently. I then ask, “What have you done, what are your results so far, and where do you want to go from here?” You have to know your audience. Know the intention of your project. In web presence and social media, the demographics of your audience may have some bleed over. Particularly in social media, we have seen a shift in who uses what platforms to connect with us. Organizations should continually ask, “What do people care about, and what do they want to know?” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other analytics are immensely important as tools providing direct insight into how your end user functions when they come to your website. Examining our analytics helped us better understand what information we needed to prioritize. We are an information hungry society wanting data on everything. Dynamic content, infographics, and a true social media plan are needed. Donors, members, and volunteers want up-to-date information. Ultimately in the design world, we have to ask, “What have we done, where are we going, and why should they care?” Elliot Jones is the Director of Communication Services and Adjunct Professor in the School of Business and Professional Studies at Rochester College. Thanks to his background and academic pursuits, Jones understands the world of graphic design, photography, and web design as both professor and professional. I work
like you paid $15 for it, your credibility can take a hit. If you want to not only stand out but raise funds through your platform, you need a visual representation that is synchronous and tells your story. I send my students off to a few specific websites and ask, “Would you buy or donate to this organization?” The students quickly differentiate based on the design of the site. It is sad that reputable organizations are sometimes turning students off. People want credibility in the design, they want to see that things are safe and secure for them to give and participate. And design is a big part of that process. It hurts when you look at great organizations with people trying hard to progress their issue, and their digital and print design seems to be an afterthought. These organi- zations ask themselves, “Do we dig a well, or do we pay for this design work. What’s going to be more beneficial?” What they don’t realize is, with good visuals, you might be able to dig four wells! There is an important balancing act for nonprofits. You don’t want your piece to look like it cost half of your fundraising budget to print, but you want the work to look good and well designed. It has to be balanced. Nonprofits work to prioritize their mission, but they don’t always think about how what appears to be ‘peripheral’may actually be ‘foundational’ to organizational growth.