July 2, 2018

It’s time to ditch your nonprofit website carousel

We are planning to refresh our website design later in the year, but there’s one thing we decided to get rid of sooner than later: the image slider we had at the top of our homepage.

Image sliders and carousels were all the rage several years ago, and MANY nonprofit websites (maybe yours) have them right at the top.

quote: (Image) carousels work great for their original intended purpose ... but they are terrible as the star of your homepage.In theory, it’s a great idea. You can showcase more than one message at a time! It moves, and that’s exciting, right?

The problem is that they don’t do a good job of either conveying information or motivating action. Click and conversion rates are terrible, and the clicks they do get are almost always on the first image.

Here’s a bunch of commentary and research, if you want it:

The bottom line is that carousels work great for their original intended purpose, like letting users quickly move through a photo album or portfolio.

But they are terrible as the star of your homepage.

What should you do instead of a carousel?

The current trend is definitely the hero image: that big full-width image, often with a text overlay and even a button on it.

I’d encourage you to go a step further and to think of that hero image as yet another communications channel in your editorial calendar.

Change the hero image based on why people are most likely coming to your website at any given time.

  • Just sent a fundraising appeal? Change the hero image to match, including a donate button.
  • Received great press coverage? Change the hero image to match the topic and include a call to action for these new visitors who saw it.
  • Issue a new report or have a program deadline coming up? Change the hero image to that.

When there’s nothing especially newsy or timely, you can fall back to a default image that more broadly describes what you do. You might have a few of these that you rotate through (just not all at the same time!). Lean toward close-up people images, rather than photos of things or big groups.

This approach does require more focus and prioritizing on your part, but that’s a good thing! It means your messaging will be that much more focused too, which increases the odds of it actually working.

 

A version of this article first appeared on nonprofitmarketingguide.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Kivi Leroux Miller
Kivi Leroux Miller is the founder and CEO of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, where she helps nonprofit communications professionals learn their jobs *and* love their jobs through a variety of training and coaching programs. She has personally mentored more than 150 nonprofit communications directors and communications teams as a certified executive coach. Kivi is a popular keynote, workshop, and webinar presenter, speaking dozens of times each year. She is also the co-founder of Bold & Bright Media, which published her newest book, 'CALM not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit's Communications for Great Results' in February 2018. She's also the author of 'The Nonprofit Marketing Guide' (2010) and the award-winning 'Content Marketing for Nonprofits' (2013). Because she can't get enough of nonprofits and entrepreneurship for good, Kivi also co-leads a Girl Scout troop and is vice president of the Lexington Farmers Market Association (Lexington, NC). She also co-founded Grow and Go Girls, a small baking and gardening business where all net profits go into a travel fund for a group of small-town girls to travel the big world, including one of her daughters.