Most of my co-workers are a little freaked by the economy, but one of my nonprofit clients said something troubling to me the other day. He said many of his colleagues are reluctant to spend money on technology because they fear the recession. I don't always believe you have to spend money to make money, but in this case it's really true. Some nonprofits have such horrendous websites that they pretend they don't even exist rather than face the task of fixing them. They don't understand that by having an ugly public face they're actually hampering the advancement of their goals and sustainability. (NB: We're hosting a presentation on usability on Sept. 2, 2008 at 2 Eastern - you can register for free.) You don't have to believe me. Jakob Nielson, the widely respected king of usability, wrote a wonderful article called "Do Government Agencies and Non-Profits Get ROI from Usability?" He says:
Although the gains don't fall into traditional profit columns, there are clear arguments for improving usability of non-commercial websites and intranets. In one example, a state agency could get an ROI of 22,000% by fixing a basic usability problem.Did you see that number? It really is 22,000 percent. Staggering. I donâ€™t know a single funder that wouldn't gasp at that kind of return and justify the funds to improve a website. Yes, people might read something about you in The Chronicle of Philanthropy or The Nonprofit Times, but people learn about your organization by going to your website. And they won't learn anything if it's not usable. New websites don't come free, but to have an unusable website and do nothing with it is a complete waste of money. So today's friendly Web tool is actually a whitepaper from ZD Net that will help you calculate the ROI (return on investment). It's for a CRM system, but it can be applied to a website as well. Read it and get to cleaning up your website!