The Importance of Empathy in Nonprofit Website Design

Remember the Golden Rule? In these tumultuous days, it feels very important to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Elephants do that quite well. In fact, a defining characteristic of elephants is that they treat each other with empathy. You might be thinking, "What? This blog is going to be about elephants?" No, this won’t be a blog about elephants…but it is about empathy, and the importance of it especially in nonprofit website design. 

Elephants hugging with their trunks

Did you know there are more than 10 million nonprofits and non-governmental organizations worldwide? How does your nonprofit stand out from the rest?  To be a healthy, vibrant nonprofit you must always be focused on your mission. And your mission is carried out by leaders, employees, and volunteers having passion and empathy about a specific cause you all rally around. When you come together with a clear sense of purpose, it drives results and fuels organizational success. And at the heart of a successful nonprofit are the donors – more than their wallets, they are people.

Donors enable the work of your nonprofit and make a difference in the communities you serve. 

  • Do you understand their concerns? 
  • Are you addressing those concerns on your website?
  • Do you know what results they want from your nonprofit?
  • Are you using their tone and voice in your website?
  • Are you making your website easy for them to navigate and find the information they need?

The same way you have empathy about your cause should spread out into empathy in website design. That may seem like quite a leap, so let’s first define empathy.

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the emotions, thoughts, or attitudes of another ( In everyday terms it means that a person using empathy puts themselves in the place of another person and imagines what they are feeling, seeing, and hearing. The focus is on the person’s needs, experiences, and outcomes. Developing empathy is key for establishing relationships and behaving with compassion.

Why Is Empathy Necessary?

According to Psychology Today, empathy enables us to establish rapport with another person and make them feel that they are being heard. The empathic ability to see a problem through their eyes can further cement a connection. In a social context, empathy is typically what drives people to take action. And for people who visit your website, you have calls to action (CTAs) that you want them to move on, right? So, how exactly does empathy get worked into website design?

Empathy in Nonprofit Website Design

Each nonprofit organization has its own brand, message, mission, and audience – including supporters, donors, volunteers, and the community being served. Because of that, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to designing nonprofit websites. It’s critical for website designers to think about the experience website visitors will have. Basically, they put themselves in the place of visitors and see the website how visitors see it.

For website designers to design well, empathy of the target audience is critical. They must set aside assumptions and instead envision visitors’ needs for information, expectations of answers, concerns for the cause, devices being used, and feelings about messaging. 

The process of using empathy in website design has key steps to follow:

Step 1: Observe how visitors use the website. Important areas to watch include:

  • Ease of use of the website
  • How long a visitor takes to reach their desired information
  • Problems the visitor faces on the website

Step 2: Record observations of the website visitors. Important data to capture include:

  • Were there too many clicks to get to the desired information?
  • Did the journey from one webpage to another cause confusion?
  • Were the forms quick and easy to complete?

Step 3: Analyze the data collected. At this step it’s important to understand the visitor’s needs, emotions, and pain points. It’s the most critical step using empathy.

Once a designer understands all this information, they can execute on their design to ensure color scheme, font size and style, page layout, navigation, accessibility, and functionality are appropriate for the audience. By becoming a better listener and observer and putting themselves in the visitors’ shoes, designers are able to build a website that matches needs and expectations. That’s where the sweet spot lies.

How OneEach Technologies Uses Empathy in Website Design

When OneEach Technologies designs a custom website, our talented team will partner with you to learn about your nonprofit’s story, mission, goals, and audience needs and wants. Our team is available 24/7 to guide you through the website build, provide 24/7/365 support, and offer hands-on training and resources for you and your team. We use empathy in our website design to ensure your website can help spread the word, share important information about your organization, build credibility, share achievements, and express the impact of volunteers and donations. And, we test websites in many different formats, browsers, and sizes because visitors use the websites differently. Our focus is always on how your visitors will use and view your website. We want to please visitors with their experience, not provoke frustration.

Check Out Some Of Our Website Designs

We focus on building websites for nonprofits that are engaging, intuitive, and modern. With over 20 years of hosting experience and 14 years of using Drupal websites, we have website designs and custom options that work for all nonprofits. We’d love for you to view several of our website designs for the following nonprofits:

Let us know if you have any questions about how we can help you with your nonprofit’s website! 

P.S. We Can Learn A Lot From Elephants

Circling back to how this blog started…elephants are empathetic. In fact it has been recorded that elephants are one of the world’s most empathetic animals. During times of death, loss, and distress, elephants console each other and display grief and mourning. When one of them is threatened, the rest of the herd comes together to form a wall of protection around them. And when a member of the herd is injured and cannot keep up with the rest, the herd will slow down to ensure they are not left behind. Let’s be more like elephants.