Is your non-profit website using pictures to tell a story?

Last week, my friends at Network for Good sent me their weekly eNewsletter with links to all sorts of good things. One of the links took me to an article by Caryn Stein titled “10 Amazing Nonprofit Websites“. With a few free minutes on my hands, the headline was like a fishing lure, and I was hooked. I wanted to know:

  • Who are those agencies?
  • What made their websites “amazing”?
  • What do those sites look like?

The following images are the front pages from three of the ten non-profit webpages highlighted by Caryn. As you scroll down, I encourage you to take a good look because I think there is a common thread running through all these home pages.

webpage1

webpage2

webpage3

What did you see? As you scrolled through these three website homepages, what went running through your head?

For me, it was the pictures that captured my attention. I found myself thinking:

  • Who are those people?
  • What is their story?
  • How did the agency help them?
  • Is there a happy ending?

It has been said millions of times that a picture is worth a thousand words. Since a webpage packed with lots of verbiage has been proven by SEO experts to chase people away, then why wouldn’t you use as many pictures as possible to pull people into your agency’s story?

Last week, I introduced you to Christopher Davenport’s storytelling resources and his book “Nonprofit Storytelling for Board Members“.  Starting on page 10, Christopher introduces the concept of “The 4 C’s of Storytelling,” which are:

  1. Character
  2. Connection
  3. Conflict
  4. Conquest

I won’t expound on these ideas because you’re really supposed to go buy his book. (Disclaimer — I am not affiliated with Christopher Davenport and do not profit from your purchase of his products.)

However, I bring up the 4 C’s because the three websites from the Network for Good eNewsletter article remind me of how much one picture on your website can do when it comes to the four elements of storytelling. After all, doesn’t the picture essentially introduce the character? Doesn’t the image also initially create a connection and get you wondering about the conflict and potential resolution?

Of course, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology. So, the moral to today’s story isn’t as simple as “go add some pictures to your agency’s website“.

Lenka Istvanova wrote a great post titled “How to Increase Traffic To Your Website With The Help Of Images” at Koozai blog. She goes into great detail about:

  • Alt Tag
  • File Name
  • Image Size
  • XML and Image Sitemap

As I said, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology, online marketing and ePhilanthropy. My best advice to non-techie people is to: 1) fight through the urge to give up and 2) hire employees and recruit volunteers who are techies to help you.

One final note . . . a few months ago a non-profit executive director friend of mine was contacted by a company claiming that her agency used a picture on their website that didn’t belong to them. Not only did it not belong to them, but there was no photo credit. This honest mistake by an employee cost the agency thousands of dollars in fines.

Does your non-profit organization make effective use of images on your website? Are you pulling people into your agency’s story? After capturing their attention, where are you taking them and how are you telling your story (e.g. YouTube video, article with more pictures, etc)? How are you using images on your website to enhance SEO? Where are you finding your images and ensuring you aren’t violating copyright laws?

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
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