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3 tips for incorporating great visuals into your website

By Murad Bushnaq
November 22, 2021

Photo of people's hands putting post-its on a wall for website design

Your website’s visual elements define your organization, helping to draw visitors in and explain your nonprofit’s mission before they read a single word. This is why a strong visual brand matters: the first images visitors see shape their impression of your organization and can determine if they continue interacting with your content. 

However, just because a visual is bold and eye-catching doesn’t mean it’s right for your nonprofit. Instead, your visuals should work to create a cohesive picture of your organization that represents your values, mission, and audience. 

It can be challenging to convey these abstract principles through visual imagery. To help your nonprofit start improving your website’s visuals, this article provides three tips for effective nonprofit website design:

  1. Use photos of real people in action. 
  2. Show impact with well-designed graphics. 
  3. Create emotionally appealing videos to thank supporters. 

These tips are best implemented on a website that supports multimedia content. Most modern website builders can accommodate this need without issue. We recommend you check to make sure your current website structure can support multiple images without causing increased load times or other user experience challenges. Be selective about the images you choose to represent your brand, aiming to create the most accurate impression of your organization at first glance.

1. Use photos of real people in action. 

People are naturally drawn to photos of other people. This is why so many websites use bold hero images that feature a single person—visitors are likely to relate to the individual and become interested in learning more. 

Your mission will impact the types of photos you’re likely to have. As you design key aspects of your website (such as your homepage, about page, and donation page) consider using photos of real people, including the people you serve, staff, event attendees, and volunteers. This will help you showcase the real people who do the work that is central to your mission. 

2. Show impact with well-designed graphics.

Your nonprofit likely has data to persuade website visitors to become supporters. However, many people struggle with putting meaning behind statistics when they’re presented solely in text. You can better demonstrate your data and why it matters by pairing it with well-designed graphics. 

Charts and graphs work best when paired with writing that contextualizes them. For example, say an environmental nonprofit created a pie chart showing the different types of trees they’ve planted over time. A visitor would likely appreciate a paragraph or two explaining why those types of trees were chosen and how they’re affecting the ecosystem they were added to. 

When creating your graphics, be sure they are accessible for your entire audience. Text on images can’t be read by assistive technology like screen readers. Fortunately, you can avoid these problems by adding alternative text to your graphics. Additionally, graphics that rely on color to show change or otherwise display their data may be difficult to read for individuals with color blindness. You can manage this by ensuring each graphic has an appropriate color contrast.

3. Create emotionally appealing videos to thank supporters. 

Sometimes the best way to attract attention is to mix it up, and your website can accomplish that by adding videos to complement still photographs and graphics. 

Videos can be used to explain your nonprofit’s mission, introduce new initiatives, thank your donors, and more. Using video to create emotional appeals thanking supporters for their help can dramatically impact your nonprofit’s fundraising potential. Heartfelt thank-yous through video can help retain your current supporters and encourage new supporters to get involved. 

When creating thank-you videos for your website, ensure that you:

  • Use clear and steady footage. 
  • Choose appropriate background music. 
  • Make your video accessible by providing closed captioning or a transcript. 

While your video should be emotional, remember that it still represents your organization and will need to be professional and reflective of your brand. You don’t need a big budget to produce videos, but be deliberate about your creative choices to ensure you are casting your nonprofit in the right light. 

The Gist 

A nonprofit’s website is one of its most important online marketing tools, and incorporating meaningful, eye-catching visuals helps draw visitors in and keeps them engaged. Take photos of the community you serve, consider how you can represent more abstract concepts, and keep the power of multimedia visuals in mind as you enhance your website.