How can an NGO build a website that reaches as many people as possible with its cause? Once you have reached people, you need to keep them interested in visiting your site. NIOK's two podcasts offer useful advice on building a website. Bernadett Gyimesi from Medve Matek and Balázs Ormándlaki from Drive Online Marketing Agency came to share their experiences with Anikó Porkoláb from the NIOK Foundation.

What questions should be clarified when creating a website? What information is essential to have on an organisation's website? What should we do with keywords and how can we check the accessibility of our website? If you have similar questions for your organisation, listen to our new podcast here or read the summary below.

How to start building a website from scratch? What is the content that must be included?

According to Balázs Ormándlaki, the zero step is to clarify within the organisation what exactly the purpose of the website is, what functions are needed. It is necessary to define who the target audience is, and also to think about how they will get to the site, since not everyone will first come across the main page, but for example, a sub-page based on a search term. Of course, different targets will require different content, but some basic information should be included on the site. These include, for example, reports on the association, the association's participants and the volunteers who play a key role. If you want to attract new people to your website and capture their interest, the content needs to be a bit more emotional and human, while if you want to convey information, you need more rational and structured content - and even within a website, it is worth considering which considerations will be more important for which type of message. When Bernadett Gyimesi and her team at Medve Matek first set up their website, their aim was just to pass on information - for example, they gave details of many maths competitions to those involved - but now they are also using their site for marketing purposes to attract new visitors. They are putting a lot of emphasis on the "Who are we?" page, where they can show the faces of the organisation, but also their partners and supporters, making Medve Matek more personal.

What does a good website look like?

Balázs Ormándlaki points out that visitors do not spend a lot of time on a website, in fact, research shows that it should take around 8 seconds to get people's attention. In that time, an emotional decision is made in the subconscious whether to continue browsing. In testing websites, Balázs has found that people are intimidated by large amounts of text (1000-2000 characters), so short, to the point text is needed on the main pages, and analytical content should be placed on an easily accessible sub-page. It's best to have an opening image on the home page that conveys the most important information, followed by a short summary of what the visitor will encounter on the page, then a few lines of text, and then the rest of the content in bullet points. The text should expand as you move down the page, while encouraging the visitor to take action, for example with buttons and branching options. In addition to all this, it should be remembered that people are mostly viewing these pages on mobile, so they need to be optimised for that too.

Where can an NGO turn if it has few resources to create a website?

According to Balázs, it is important for organisations to be willing to compromise, as the perfect website cannot be built with little money. Today there are many website templates that can be used to put together a good website with a little learning, even without an expert. This solution also helps organisations to really define their goals, because they don't have a development team behind them to implement all their requests, which are often unnecessary.

Bernadett Gyimesi and the Medve Matek team have already learned that they can't speak to everyone and say everything on the main page. They have already gone through a redesign, and the second page has been created taking into account the mistakes made on the first. Bernadett agrees that the first step in designing a website should be to define the target audience. They don't have too much information on the main page, it's just a matter of getting questions from visitors and answering them later. He advises that during development it is worth showing the site to people who know little about the organisation, so that their feedback can be used to develop the site.

Support, donations, sponsorship

There is already an article on on how to present your funding opportunities, but now Bernadett and Balázs have some more advice. The Medve Matek website currently features a sponsor search call as a prominent feature. Previously, they did not display this option on their website, so they did not receive any sponsorships. Bernadett says that NGOs can often find it uncomfortable to ask for support, but they are working for a good cause and can be proud to do so.

According to Balázs Ormándlaki, anyone who wants to support an organisation can find a moderately visible place to do so on the website. So it's not only the visibility that is important, but also the way the whole donor lifecycle is built. This cycle starts with micro-engagements: for example, the organisation may ask the interested person to like one of their posts, subscribe to their newsletter or attend one of their live events, but there are many more steps. Once these are done, they have a link to potential supporters, who they can reach directly during a fundraising event. It is important to note that targeted fundraising is more successful than general fundraising. It is good for an organisation to be able to show what they have achieved from their past support and what their plans are for the future.

The donor is already committed. What to look out for when setting up a donation platform?

Measurements are essential, according to the online marketing expert. One way is to use Google Analytics to help your organisation measure how successful a particular supporter page is. It's important that the page isn't a blank page where you just enter data. The page should be trustworthy, for example, the organisation can show what has been achieved thanks to previous donations or who the participants are. It is also important that the payment partner is reliable and that there are transparent processes.

Website content and keeping it up to date

At Medve Matek, Bernadett is responsible for keeping the website up to date. In their case, the frequently updated main page contains short news items with links to another page. The information that affects many people is updated weekly, while the descriptive pages are updated about once a month. Even for an organisation that does not have a lot of capacity to maintain a website, it is important to have up-to-date content on the site. Bernadett advises that in this case the organisation should post where the latest news about them can be found, publish monthly reports, and post where and how regularly visitors can get information. Balázs also stresses continuity. The organisation must regularly inform its supporters about its activities, otherwise they will be forgotten. He says it is not a good practice for an organisation to communicate mainly on Facebook and maintain a website as a business card. On the one hand, because on Facebook, a post reaches at most 10% of followers without an ad, and on the other hand, once the organisation has built a website, it uses it. He suggests looking for volunteers in the first place, and there is a good chance of finding someone with an affinity for simple website management.

Once the website is ready, how can the organisation reach its readers?

For example, you can get ahead in search with keyword relevant content. The organisation needs to be aware of what keywords are being searched for by those they want to engage with. Balázs Ormándlaki offers two tools to map this. Google Trends is not as detailed, but it is simple and free. Google Ads requires an ad account, and once you sign up, you can see detailed data on what keywords people have searched for in the past, and then use those keywords to produce content. Bernadett adds that Google Ads will even send you a summary letter of what searches (or keywords) readers have used to find them.

The second part of the podcast deals with the technical design of websites, if you're curious, you can listen to it soon on or on NIOK's Spotify page.

The podcast was produced with the support of Hive Mind: the Hive Mind community is dedicated to developing media literacy: helping you to recognise misinformation, how to speak positively to people on critical issues and how to stay safe in the digital world. You can listen to the Hive Mind community's podcasts in Hungarian on this channel and in English on the Hive Mind channel.