We are asked this question time and time again: “What can you do to build community through your website?”
The answer to this question is simple:
Think of your website as the front door to your organization. Think of your organization as a home to your audience – a place where your audience can find what matters to them and what is close to their hearts.
When you build community through your website, you’re welcoming your visitors into your home.
We have provided a few guidelines to build community through your website and make your website feel like a home for your audience:
1: Make it Welcoming
In Yiddish, there is a term for this: Hamish – an adjective that is synonymous to cozy and warm. Make your website hamish. When visitors are relaxed, they are more open to listening to what you have to say. They feel as though they know you and vice versa. Encourage your users to keep coming around and to bring their friends along.
There are many ways to do this, but our favorite way is to create an ongoing dialogue with visitors. Through marketing and connecting with your ideal users, you are able to build your mailing list. You can also provide entry points on your website to join the list. With this list, you can promote your news, events and the overall message of your organization.
How do your visitors find out about what interests them? Well, you have to tell them.
2: Make it Meaningful
Engage your readers in a meaningful way. Ask them related questions or ask them for their opinion and be sure to respond accordingly. Let them talk about their issues and be sure to listen to them attentively. Provide informative content. Delight your readers and make it known to them that they matter to your organization. You are coming together for a similar cause and to do big things together, so take pride in achievements together. Show them how much you appreciate them and their input.
3: Make it Supportive
When you build community through your website, you are creating the framework for people to come together, people you can turn to and people who support you. Invite your visitors into the conversation about their community and discuss their dreams and visions. By doing so, it will become a very personal experience for each of them, so it’s vital to make your website feel like home.
- When people are comfortable, they are more open to persuasion. This means that they may be more open to making or increasing a donation.
- When you demonstrate that you understand where your audience is coming from, you establish trust and a greater sense of loyalty.
- If your website feels like a template or feels barren, there will be less emotional attachment to the organization.
- User experience must be considered. The site should feel friendly and inviting, and not complex and difficult to navigate. It should be easy for the visitors to find what they are looking for.