What Makes A Great Adoption Website?

Any day now we’ll be introducing a new adoption profile website service. If your networking efforts have hit a wall and you’re looking for a new way to reach out to prospective birthparents, I hope you’ll check it out. [Editor’s note: Our new adoption profile website service is now up and running]. Or feel free to email me any time for more details. I’d be happy to help you with your adoption networking strategy in any way I can.

As I was putting together a feature sheet about some of the thing we’re planning to include in our new service, I started thinking about what makes a great adoption website.

Adoption websites are, or at least should be, as individual and dynamic as the people they’re created for.  Just as no two adoptive parents are alike no two adoption websites should be alike, either. And yet, despite their individual differences, every great adoption website has some elements in common.

Here’s some of the ones that immediately came to my mind. I’d love to hear what you think of them, and what you think makes for a great adoption website and online experience.

Contains compelling content

Prospective birthparents click on adoption websites for one reason and one reason only: to find out more about you, or other prospective adoptive parents, and what kind of future you can offer their child. So don’t disappoint them when they arrive. Make sure that your content is not only strong but relevant — that it contains specifics about you, your reasons for adopting and the life you can provide their child.

Creates a strong first impression

In our time-strapped world, you have mere seconds to make your mark. In the case of your adoption website, either you grab prospective birthparents’ attention right away with large photos, smart design or eye-catching colors or you lose them. Your site needs to have impact and create trust from the start. After all, until the prospective birthparents actually speak to you, your website is the only thing they’ll have to go on.

Makes a statement

Your adoption website is your calling card. As a result, it needs to convey who you are and what you believe in. Just like your parent profile letter, it should tell your story simply and effectively through words, pictures, graphics and typography.

Visually interesting

If your adoption website doesn’t draw prospective birthparents in, it might just as well not exist at all. For that reason, your website should be pleasing to the eye and contain interesting elements that will create a mood and capture the essence of who you are.

Well organized

Because your adoption website is a reflection of your life and personality, it’s tempting to jam everything into it, just to make sure you’re fully covered. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, be judicious when it comes to choosing the details. Strip everything down to the essentials and be sure that whatever goes into your website has a reason to be there. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to take it out.

Easy to navigate

Given how short attention spans are today, your adoption website needs to be as dynamic and user friendly as possible. That means organizing your content into manageable chunks that are clearly displayed and easy to access. Knowing that users tend to jump around online — say, get a quick sense of you by checking out the family photos in your “Our Photos” section before reading up about you in your “About Us” section — make sure they can conveniently go from one section of your website to another.

Easy to read

With so many other websites to choose from, you’ll want to make sure that prospective birthparents not only find you, but stick around long enough to find out about you. Making your site inviting and easy to read through the use of clean and friendly design is one way to help them along. Avoid fancy fonts, reverse text and small point sizes. They may look snazzy, but for the most part they’re distractions.

Loads quickly

You could have the most comprehensive, well-designed adoption website in the world. But if your pages take a long time to load, nobody is going to wait around for them. Avoid weighing your pages down with too many photos or large files. Not only will they affect your loading time, they can even have a negative impact on where your site shows up on search engines.

Contains a call to action

Your website is a great way to introduce yourself to prospective birthparents. But remember, it’s just Step One. Besides learning about you, you want them to eventually contact you. Give them a hand: post your contact information prominently on each page and encourage them to reach out to you by email or phone.

Your adoption website is a great networking tool that could help you set yourself apart from the crowd and connect with prospective birthparents. But it’s not enough just to have one.

If you want to make a connection, you need to make sure that it’s visually appealing, contains strong content, and is easy to navigate and read.  By incorporating these elements into your website, you can increase your odds of making an impact with prospective birthparents and perhaps of even finding a match.

What do you think makes a great adoption website? What have you done to get prospective birthparents to take notice of your site? What advice do you have for hopeful adoptive parents who are trying to get noticed online?