Michael Levine has authored a book titled "Broken Windows, Broken Business" in which he applies the broken window theory to businesses.
The broken window theory holds that if a window in a building is left broken and unrepaired, very soon, the rest of the windows will be broken. This leads to a perception that crime is out of control. When the theory is applied to businesses and not-for-profit organisations, the basic premise is that problems arise from inattention to tiny details.
As CEOs and Directors of non-profit organisations, it is easy to spend our days caught up with big picture details such as:
In dealing with big issues, it is easy to neglect the tiny details, or the details we think are insignificant compared to what we are dealing with. One such detail is our organisation's website.
Most CEOs and Directors are content in the knowledge that the organisation has a website. They will have checked the organisation's website when they applied for the role of CEO or Director. Once appointed, will check the website periodically, usually when they want to list the web address in a funding application.
If the website loads and the information on it is accurate, most CEOs and Directors are content with the knowledge that the organisation has a website.
But what does the website say about the organisation?
Many leaders of non-profit organisations are content with the knowledge the website has:
And a couple of other pages with the Annual Reports or photographs of various events. In other words, if the organisation has a website with information in the primary brand colours of the organisation, little attention or thought is given to it.
BUT WHAT DOES THE WEBSITE REALLY SAY ABOUT THE ORGANISATION?
The difficulty for most organisations is that the website is developed from an insider's perspective. It is the view of someone from inside the organisation who understands how the organisation works and speaks the organisation's lingo.
The website is a tool to convey information. However, transmitting information is only one aspect of a website. Before a website conveys information, it must do two other things.
Shop windows were the way stores enticed customers to come into their stores. Window dressers or visual merchandisers created a visual appeal that drew potential customers into the store.
Waiting rooms were often designed to make a person comfortable and at ease. While shop windows and waiting rooms are still essential in our technological society, websites are the modern equivalent of both the shop window and the waiting room.
The website creates the visual attraction and user experience to draw a person in and make them feel comfortable.
By engaging a person, making them feel comfortable and providing a good user experience, the individual can take in the information about the organisation and the services provided.
Going back to the broken window theory, is your website the broken window you are not paying attention to because you think it does the job?
GIVEN ALL THE OTHER PRIORITIES, DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF WE IGNORE OUR WEBSITE?
According to the broken window theory, it does. Why?
1. IMPACT FOR CLIENTS
While, as an insider, we may believe our website is excellent, the experience for our clients navigating the website may be negative.
For example, there may be broken links or outdated and old information that has never been picked up in an audit. The person may have to click through too many pages to find what they seek. The language on the website may be what we use in the organisation but leaves the potential client confused about what the words mean.
A blog page may have two blogs from two to three years ago, giving the impression of a neglected site.
It is essential to understand that clients who have a negative experience on our website are less likely to engage with our services. Potential clients have formed the opinion from our website that our service delivery will be as unorganised and out-of-date as our website.
2. BUILDING OUR AUTHORITY
Consistently writing thought-provoking articles for our website is a straightforward way to establish our authority and credibility within our not-for-profit field. We have previously written about how to achieve a Return on Investment (ROI) on blogging and its importance.
Granted, it takes time, and we may not feel confident enough in our writing ability. However, there are writers we can engage to write on the topics relevant to us.
There are other aspects to building our authority we have written about previously. For example, it:
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA FOR FUNDING
The importance of using data in reporting and for funding applications has also been explored in a previous article.
With government departments requiring more data, monthly data reports from Google analytics become an invaluable resource in demonstrating how needs are being met and emerging trends. This allows organisations to show how they are adapting to meet emerging needs.
As not-for-profit organisations, we need to pay attention to our websites because our websites are the windows that say much about our organisation.
This is where Tonic can assist not-for-profit organisations. With their experience, the team at Tonic can evaluate your website to ensure it provides clients with a great user experience and not just speaking in your language.
Tonic can also assist organisations with the Google grant for not-for-profits to ensure you can target online marketing to drive more traffic to your site. This enables your organisation to be found more easily by your clients and increases your data for funding and reporting.