The Importance of First Impressions

The Importance of First Impressions

The importance of first impressions has been emphasized to all of us from a young age – because cliche as it sounds, you only have once chance at a first impression. So then why do some nonprofits not prioritize design and content of their websites, social media, and online brand?

Research has shown that potential volunteers and donors make a first impression on your site within seconds. In addition, new studies are proving that user behavior (that is, staying on or leaving a website) can be dictated within the first 10 seconds of visiting. In other words, “(t)o gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.” Not only that, but they are looking specifically at or for certain parts of your site.

Think first impressions on websites are fast? Try email subject lines. With open rates and click-through rates at dismal levels already, not having a clear idea of why and how you’re communicating with your donors and volunteers is continuing to hurt nonprofits and the impressions that they are giving.

And this trend even grows when you focus on certain demographics. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, millennials prefer to learn information about nonprofits through online communications – including social media and email.

But designing your first impression goes beyond your logo and the look of your site – how and what you communicate has a huge impact on how people view your organization. Are you transparent with your financial information? Can you clearly state the impact you are having in your community? Is this information easy to find? All of this drives to the point of defining who your organization is and what you hope to accomplish.

Having a presence online means having a strategy. This includes knowing your audience, focusing on key messages, and creating timelines as to when and how you want to communicate with your audience. It’s not enough to have a static web presence – links to new research, updates on your work in the community, and details as to how individuals are making a difference are vital to keeping your cause and your organization relevant.

You may never know the opportunities lost by not putting your best foot forward, but is that a risk you’re willing to take? In a time of dwindling donations and a precarious economic future, taking the time to create a positive first impression, and having a strategy behind it, can make a huge difference.

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