Designing websites for youth programs can be complex. There are so many factors to consider, such as what the site will look like, what features it should have, and how it will impact your existing association branding. The list goes on and on. Read on for several design considerations that you never want to overlook when designing a website for your association’s youth program.
If you are looking for ways to get your organization involved with young people, then creating an opportunity through a youth program might be the right fit. A youth program allows an association to show its commitment and dedication to serving young people. Not only do these programs give younger individuals something they can do, but it also provides them with valuable skills. In most cases, youth programs are developed or offered by associations with specific purposes, such as areas of STEM.
Creating a website for your youth program will help deliver information and resources about your program offerings, in addition to providing the chance to connect and communicate with other members of the group or organization. Below are a few considerations before designing a youth program website:
Remember your target audience
Establishing the target audience for your website and how they might use it is the first big step to a successful website experience. For example, suppose you offer programs aimed at younger age groups. In that case, you need to consider their level of technology sophistication when deciding navigation options.
The goal with any website should always be usability; there have been plenty of sites where users can’t find what they’re looking for because of poor or neglected information architecture, defeating the entire purpose of having a website.
Make navigation intuitive
One of the biggest concerns for a youth program website is that the navigation is difficult to follow. This can lose both parent and participant visitors and make them want to leave your site quickly. That’s why you must simplify the navigation so a user can get where they need to go quickly. Keep in mind there might not always be a need for advanced search features or functions that exist on your other websites.
One way to keep everything easy-to-understand and accessible is by making sure all pages include:
- Enlarged text with clear headings and subheadings
- Enough space between lines of text on web pages, so it’s easier to scan through content quickly (about 40 characters per line).
- Navigation bar with links at the top of each page, including Home, About Us, and Our Programs sections
- A “Contact Us” page
Design from their perspective
Think about how your prospective participants will interact visually with your website. Be engaging by creating an experience they’re used to at their age that makes them feel valued and essential. Considering their user experience can help you determine design considerations such as font sizes and layout. The text should be left-aligned unless you are using headings or subheadings, which need to be centered. Choose a color palette that is fresh and energetic but not overwhelming. If there is a members-only section on the site, make sure those pages clearly stand out so that users know exactly where they should log in before accessing content.
Include images of youth in action
Showing pictures of youth in action on your website will engage visitors and make them feel connected to the program. We recommend that you take photos with professional equipment for better-quality images. You’ll also want to add captions beneath photographs so that viewers know what’s going on and to help build the message of your program.
For example, the image below shows young students participating in an activity. The photo captures different emotions and facial expressions, how participants are dressed for the activity, and whether adults are involved. A caption could detail the bonding experience they are sharing in the image.
Offer parents resources
Parents, especially those with younger participants, who are interested in more information about their child’s program and the association as a whole, often want to know how they can support what is happening at that organization. Offer them resources such as links to social media accounts where parents can interact with other parents, or content on your website that provides tips for supporting their youngsters through this experience. If you have an active blog, include posts written by staff members which offer suggestions for involvement – even if it’s just reading stories from others.
Designing websites for youth programs at associations is both challenging and rewarding because there’s so much opportunity to engage both new and existing youth participants. With these tips, you can connect better with your audience by engaging them with a website experience that they are used to at the age that makes them feel valued and essential to your organization.
Are you starting or revamping a youth program website in your association?
We are here to help. Reach out to DJG for more tips on how to design a youth program website for your association.