nonprofit's online presence

You enter the grocery store cold and with a head full of items to buy. A moment later an aroma of freshly baked bread fills the air. You feel a little better. Your mood lifts ever so slightly. Shopping feels less like a pain and more pleasurable as you settle into scanning the shelves. But how does this psychology relate to your nonprofit’s online presence?

It’s the oldest trick in the book, big grocery stores worked out long ago that the practical act of purchasing is a multi-sensory activity. Creating an environment which stimulates the taste buds and fills the subconscious with memories of good times like entering a bakery to buy donuts as a child will increase profits. It’s a subtle game of psychology and I’m afraid we’re all players on the chess board. 

Nothing is by accident when it comes to business. In every occasion that we visit a mall, watch an advert, look at a product, and open a website, we enter an environment created with intention. Businesses invest in understanding the psychology at play with every point of contact between themselves and their clientele. 

The philosophy of incremental gains through psychology is a fascinating area for improvement for any nonprofit’s online presence. Making small improvements that really add up is especially important in this sector where a nonprofit’s online presence has become of even greater significance. 

Click HERE for the first part of the incremental gains series – small changes, which add up to a big difference.

Rhyming in slogans or call to action 

A study in 2000 by McGlone and Tofighbhsh at the University of Texas found that when presented with a truth in a slogan, students consistently preferred the rhyming version of the same information. The authors concluded this to be attributed to the fact that there is a subconscious satisfaction in identifying the rhythm, which then is transposed onto the product or call to action. This trick is something you may want to try to use on a donation button text. That said, common sense would advise using this trick sparingly — your whole campaign doesn’t have to rhyme!

The subtle use of slanted lettering.

If you need to convey a sense of urgency, consider using slanted forward italic type. This can come in handy with a call to action like: 

Now is the time to act! –  Now is the time to act!

We need your support right now! – We need your support right now!

Time is running out to help! – Time is running out to help!

It’s a trick which subconsciously increases the impetus to act on your behalf. 

Vary the location of your call to action buttons and logos. 

A paper released in 2013 in the Oxford Journal highlighted how subtly relocating your logo or an important call to action button from page to page on your website actually made them more effective. The participants of the study did not consciously register the change of locality but were more inclined to interact with the site and the brand logo made a longer lasting impact.

Keep your logo on the right hand side of the field of vision.

Research done by Chris Janiszewski in 1990 at the University of Chicago found that the logo placed on the right meant it was being processed by the less active left hand side of the brain and therefore was getting greater examination by the subconscious. The right hand side of your field of vision is an access point to the subliminal. 

Your logo will become recognizable to a fuller extent through using this idea with those who interact with you regularly. The key is the logo is a static symbol, not a call to action or text advert, which need to be on the left side of the field of vision as highlighted in the previous article on incremental gains. 

The importance of logo and color together 

Be consistent! Our brains like to feel a unified theme when interacting online. Your logo and color scheme should echo each other throughout your website. The more your logo appears, the closer the viewer feels to it. Brand recognition is a long term and vital goal and the work starts from the first click. 

Use descriptive language 

As laborious as it may sound, try to go through your website top to toe and identify weak or repetitive language. There’s a reason brands use obscure titles for flavoring and tins of paint.

  1. Chicken flavor soup becomes: roasted poultry broth 
  2. blue paint becomes: Ocean marine.
  3. Outdoor music becomes: Open air performance.

Take the mundane vocabulary and put a little love and attention into it. Your website should speak beautifully for you to every visitor. Weeding out bland, overused turns of phrase and nouns are a great place to start. It’s a process and can be fun.

There’s a mass of research out there for advertisers to draw on, the goal of this blog series is to cancel them down from the byzantine to the practical. Try implementing as many of these tips as you can. The good news is once you’ve adjusted your nonprofit’s online presence – or your printed materials – you don’t have to keep doing it. These improvements will be working for you and your nonprofit 24/7 from the moment they go live.

Nonprofit Sustainability

Nick Wood

Nick Wood

Freelance Journalist & Author
Nick Wood is a freelance journalist and author. Specializing in the nonprofit Industry, digital media, and the travel sector. With years of experience working within the industry on the ground in the UK and further afield. Founder of light-on-light, a project addressing the stories of individuals and organisations making a positive and intentional impact on society. For enquiries, nickjohnwood@mail.com.