The minimalist craze for websites can get a bit too crazy

in Online Fundraising,Website - Nonprofit

All the rage for websites seems to be “minimalist design.” That’s all fine and dandy. But any trend can get carried too far.

And I think it’s going too far when you expect web visitors (your donors, members, prospects, etc.) to fill in all the blanks. To expect them to jump tall buildings in a single bound as they miraculously fill in all the blanks about what you do … why you do it … and how they can make a difference.

Because more often than not, your web visitors will crash and burn instead of successfully making the jump. The reality is that they can’t make the jump from one abstract concept to another. And that means you lose revenue.

In other words, you still need enough compelling copy. And just to be clear, two or three sentences surrounded by large photos won’t cut it, in my opinion.

It’s not reasonable for your donors and prospects to look at a photo, and then somehow put all the pieces together to complete the puzzle of: Why should I support your nonprofit?

For example: Look at this photo and tell me the following …

Boy needs help

Are you motivated to give?

What are you giving to … what problem are you helping to solve? Are you helping to feed him? Clothe him? Reunite him with his parents? Help him get an education?

What does the photo tell you?


You can’t answer those questions, can you? Copy fills in the blanks. And you need enough of it to SPECIFICALLY explain what a donor will help you do. How their money will be used. Why they ought to care. How they’ll make a difference in this boy’s life. And so on.

A photo alone can’t do all that. So as your web designer touts the power of a minimalist design, just don’t go off the deep end. Details are required. Clarity is required. Emotion in your copy and your images is required. The muscle of your website comes from the copy. Don’t shrink it down to a 10-pound weakling.

Oh, and please remember this . . . It’s hard to find examples of well-told stories — stories that trigger emotions and make it clear what the need is — that are only one or two sentences long. And you [your nonprofit] have quite a story to tell! So tell it and don’t be afraid of copy. Don’t be a fanatical minimalist.

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