A hand in the foreground takes notes while an obscured person in a blue button-up shirt and tie speaks with their hand on their chin.

When, why, and how to interview staff and board for a nonprofit website redesign

One of the most useful resources on this site for anyone building a nonprofit website is the redesign questions for staff and board members. The people on your board and staff hold critical knowledge around the organization’s values, work, and history. Collecting information from these “internal stakeholder” is helpful in so many ways:

  • Understanding the expectations people have for the new website and setting new shared expectations
  • Understanding the history of past website projects and other projects that may influence the website
  • Learning what the organization needs from the site to make it more effective
  • Preparing everyone in the organization for the new website

Every nonprofit staff person is a wealth of institutional and experiential knowledge! Your coworkers may rely on your website for important back-office functions or they might interact daily with the people your organization serves online. Hearing these things early in the planning stage will improve the result of any website redesign project!

Website Redesign Questions to Ask Nonprofit Staff

A useful guide for stakeholder interviews

The Nielsen Norman Group has a great guide for conducting these interviews—or emails or surveys or coffee dates!—called “Stakeholder Interviews 101”. It’s worth a read in full!

Stakeholder interviews help us gather any information that may help shape the design process, define success metrics, and ultimately meet stakeholder expectations. They save us time and resources by minimizing redundant work and lay the foundation for successful relationships with stakeholders.

“Stakeholder Interviews 101”

It’s best to collect information from staff and board members as early in the process as possible. That’s both when it’s most valuable in setting high-level goals for the project and also making sure everyone understands the purpose and constraints of the new website project.

By doing these interviews early, you can focus the conversations more on organization needs, goals for the future, measures of success, and lessons from past projects. This is the type of feedback that only internal stakeholders can provide.

What stakeholder interviews most useful for

Internal stakeholders shouldn’t be collectively deciding things like how best to organize a website or what information or features are “obvious”, “intuitive”, or “don’t make sense”. That’s because a nonprofit’s website is not for staff or the board, it’s for the people the nonprofit serves or engaged with outside the organization. As the saying goes: “you are not your user”.

The benefit of doing them early in the engagement process is two-fold: the stakeholder feels heard and you gather insight when it’s most helpful.

“Stakeholder Interviews 101”

The Nielsen Norman Group highlights these purposes when listing four purposes for stakeholder interviews:

  1. “Gather context and history.”
  2. “Identify business goals.”
  3. “Align on a shared vision.”
  4. “Increase buy-in and communication.”

Put another way, the purpose of talking to staff about a website redesign isn’t to decide the color of the donate button. Instead, it’s to learn about the role of individual donors when it comes to the website and how effective or ineffective past online giving efforts have been.

Once all the feedback is collected, it’s the job of the web team to take the information gathered, distill it to key themes and lessons, and combine that with information from external stakeholders. That’s the ✨ magic formula ✨ for making a website that serves its visitors in a way that makes an organization more effective.

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