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Website Content How Friendly Is Too Friendly?- Helpful Hints For Charities 16

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Charities need their websites to focus on raising awareness about their organisation, engaging with their audience and encouraging donations. In this post we wanted to talk about website content how friendly is too friendly when writing content for your charity’s website.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on the look and feel, the usability and content of the website. The content is probably the hardest part of putting a website together as it needs to grab the audience’s attention and encourage them to move towards an action.

As website designers/developers we will always talk about ensuring there is good copy on your website that encourages traffic to the site.  We advise you to make sure you have thought about what you are writing, structure your content, make sure it is informative and ensure your audience is clear about what you are trying to say.

With an increasing amount of charities campaigning for similar causes alongside hard economic times, it has become more important than ever to make sure the content on your website encourages donations and raises the awareness of your charity.

One of the most important things to remember is make sure your content is ‘sticky and friendly’, by this I mean make sure you are approachable and that your content is compelling so that visitors stick around and see what you are all about.

You can tailor your content so it feels as if you are having a conversation with someone right in front of you.  The social media boom and the popularity of blogging means we have even more flexibility to be informal in our approach by talking to others, voicing our opinions freely and basically sharing our entire lives and feelings with the internet community.

To be, or not to be friendly, that is the question:

Surely there must be a limit to how friendly or informal we should be?  Your charity website is your shop window and all shop window’s needs to be appealing. It comes down to finding a balance.  Be friendly, there is nothing wrong with that but remember who you are communicating too, who you are representing and think hard about the tone you want to set.

For example, is it wise to inform potential donors about your weekend antics? Do they really need to know how much sugar you take in your tea? Is this a pro-active way to establish the relationship you want to create between your charity and your audience?

It is true that you can be a lot friendlier when writing a blog than maybe the main content on your website.  However it’s still advisable to keep in mind any boundaries you would like to keep between you and your audience.  This after all is still a blog that represents your charity; not a personal blog.

The tone of your approach and who your target audience is are two key factors that you need to consider for your content approach.  It is so easy to get caught up in the hype of being informal that we have to be careful that we do not say something that is inappropriate.

A couple of examples:

A great example of a friendly site is the Red Nose Day website. It is a clean site with inviting content that talks to you and makes you feel like you want to help out and donate.  Seeing as part of their main branding is based around a comical theme, it works for them to not use that throughout their content.

UNICEF is a good example of how to be friendly but in a more formal approach.  As a worldwide organisation that represents and helps the struggling population of the world, they have used the emotional approach.  Their content is worded so that it makes you stop and think, to make you empathise with those in need of help.  The entire time they maintain the formal friendly nature they want to bring across.

Some helpful points:

Here is some advice on how can you can make your charity website friendly without being over friendly:

  • Remember what your organisation stands for and what the charity image is
  • Remember who your target audience is
  • Think about what they want to know
  • Think of the tone you want to create without being inappropriate or even offensive
  • What type of content are you writing i.e. news, blog, main content etc?
  • Speak their language
  • Think about how much information you want to provide
  • Avoid abbreviations such as OMG, TBH, LOL and so on
  • Have an idea of the professional boundary you want to keep
  • Understand how people read on the web
  • Don’t be patronising
  • Being friendly doesn’t just have to be in the content, think about the design and layout, the ease of navigation too
  • And remember being friendly doesn’t mean not being professional

Summary

There you go, next time you are thinking of writing some content for your charity website, be friendly by all means.  Remember to keep a balance and don’t forget about the charity’s tone, image and standards.

As an organisation your visitors will have a certain expectation of you so make sure your level of friendliness doesn’t go so far to overstep the mark. Keeping a professional distance is not a bad thing!

If you know of a charity that maintains a good balance of friendliness, please let us know via our comments box below.