Not-for-Profit Web Design Q&A: Welcoming a New Era for The Royal Society of Victoria

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Web design for not-for-profits (NFPs) is a completely different principle. There are many key features that a NFP website requires that others may not; leaving a lasting impression is integral for these types of websites. We spoke with The Royal Society of Victoria to get their expert opinion on not-for-profits in the digital era, why they chose to work with emd:digital, and their experience partnering with us to build a new, engaging website for RSV.

Mike Flattley is CEO of The Royal Society of Victoria, working alongside Scott Reddiex (Director of Engagement) to promote the advancement of science and knowledge in the state of Victoria. RSV is the oldest scientific society in the state and celebrates the role science has in our society through publications, talks and many other agendas to deliver on their mission. 

What did your last website lack that you were looking to remedy with a new website?

Scott: The old website’s identity and format were inconsistent with the organisation's strategy. An outdated and difficult to navigate website is inconsistent with 'clear and effective science communications and engagement'. The quality of content is meaningless if it isn't easily accessible!

Mike: Our small organisation has a communications and engagement focus but is also very broad in its activities and offerings. This can confuse site visitors looking for a single source of information. We were looking for a way to bring all our various brands and programs under one roof, but also direct traffic quickly and easily to the content that our audiences are looking for with a minimum amount of scrolling and clicking.

How do you think the internet had changed not-for-profit outreach?

Mike: Pre-internet not-for-profits traditionally gained impact for their programs through newsworthiness, through traditional media outlets. However, journalists generally seek public interest stories, not the latest institutional position on Victoria's alarming decline in biodiversity, nor announcements about prize winners, nor details of public lectures sharing the outcomes of scientific research. 

The internet has provided smaller not-for-profits with the ability to self-publish and engage in sharing stories of direct relevance to the organisation's mission and its stakeholders without incurring significant costs from print publishing and distribution via post.

Do you think a website is a fundamental necessity for not-for-profits in 2024?

Scott: Yes, it is a fundamental necessity, as every not-for-profit needs to have a readily accessible 'source of truth' for everything to do with the organisation. If you're not online, you're not visible. If you're only operating on social media, I think there's a perception of a lack of legitimacy. Your identity as an NFP is your brand and your message. A website, even the most basic one, provides a solid foundation to build from.

Mike: There is no simpler way for a resource strapped NFP to pursue its agenda than through online publishing and sharing content through social media channels and email campaigns. It’s cheaper and easier than recruiting and assigning staff to PR activities, or mass-producing and distributing print publications, as many of the larger players often do.

Why did you choose emd:digital? Would you recommend us to other not-for-profits for web design?

Mike: We reached out to our network for recommendations and emd:digital came back as a strong candidate. In gaining quotations, the team respected both our brief and our budget, so it was a straightforward decision. We had a good experience with professional and accommodating staff with a good head for design and function.

Scott: A key part of the shortlisting process was the portfolio of emd:digital’s completed works, like the UN Innovation Network and the endometriosis research sites. From there, the meetings with the agency were positive and productive, and the resulting vision and quote were consistent with our needs.

I would recommend emd:digital to other NFPs, because of their willingness to work with you, and ability to tailor a solution to match your vision. 

Did you learn anything new or interesting about web design while working with emd:digital to develop your new website?

Scott: Different agencies have preferences for different platforms. We had experience with the WordPress which we had used for years, but Webflow is new to us. It will be a learning process, but so far it seems responsive.

Mike: We were able to rely on the emd:digital team to draw on their earlier experiences with other clients to advise us on "what works" for most audience members of not-for-profits. While we directly manage our own websites and have a lot of experience in design and content creation, our focus is constantly drawn to other areas of concern in managing a complex enterprise such as Royal Society of Victoria, so our knowledge regarding user experience is neither up to date nor informed by client feedback. 

We respect that emd:digital has this insight and defer to their recommendations on user experience and navigation.

Our Experience Designing and Developing Websites for Not-for-Profits

Our slogan ‘digital for the better’ is rooted in designing and developing websites that help both small and large not-for-profits flourish in the digital era with responsive and compelling websites. These websites must tell a story, meanwhile need to be easy to navigate with clear calls to action.

The Royal Society of Victoria was founded in 1854 and continues to promote better understanding and utilisation of scientific knowledge for the benefit of Victoria. Working with the Royal Society of Victoria has been an incredible experience bringing their mission and agendas to life through modern web design.

Websites for not-for-profits is our speciality at emd:digital; look no further for responsive, engaging web design for your NFP.

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