Design for Good: 4 Nonprofit Design Principles - Part 1 of 2

Raheel Gauba - 06.18.2009

Considering my blog, Sans Profit Design, actually started out as a blog about designing for good, I really have not been writing much about design lately due to my recent social media kick. Well, it’s time to change that...Let’s start with the basics.  As Creative Director at Blackbaud Internet Solutions, I have a certain vision, or some might say, mantra, that I like to follow and guide our creative work with.

I'd like to share my simplistic approach to effective design with you.

1. Every Pixel has a Purpose

This was a lesson I learned during my gig  before Blackbaud while working with Roald Marth, the CEO of The idea here is to ensure that as a designer, every single pixel on the screen must be accounted for within the design. This does not mean that every single pixel must be colored or manipulated, but rather - think about the positive and the negative space, balance and consistency - the pixels you don't touch are as important as the ones that you do.

2. Design Must be Audience Centric

Your audience is at the center of everything you do online - The design and content flow must cater to THEIR needs while being closely tied with YOUR organizational goals. It's a delicate balance, and not easy to achieve - but this is the difference between websites that do a great job at retaining their audience and ones that don't.

3. Less is Always More - Use Only What’s Necessary - Discard the Rest

Design is subjective. Some like clean and modern, while others prefer traditional and more elaborate approaches to design. Either way, there is always an elegant solution to the design challenge at hand. The way to arrive at this solution is to exercise the principle of 'less is more'. An over-designed, over-effected website turns your users away - Instead, keeping it simple and incorporating only the necessary elements to communicate your goals in a tasteful manner, is a gesture that your audience will truly appreciate!

4. Maintain and Improve Upon your Online Brand Integrity

Every time an organization goes through a redesign effort, careful attention must be paid to how your brand will be perceived with your new design. Is the design evolutionary or revolutionary for your brand? Careful attention must be paid towards elements that defined your brand in the first place and ensure they are being refined rather than redone. Make sure that the new brand and design still conveys the history and the essence of your organization while communicating your mission clearly and effectively.

There you have it - Four principles that you can easily follow (or at least be aware of) while going through your redesign (or rebrand) effort.


Here are some examples of websites that demonstrate some, if not all of the principles mentioned above. Do you have more that you would like to share?  Leave a comment and join the discussion!


Zoo New England

Zoo New England

Austin Film Society

Austin Film Society

Make a Wish Michigan

Make a Wish, Michigan

Meals on Wheels Association of America

Meals on Wheels Association of America

St. Pius X

St. Pius X High School

United Nations Association of the USA

United Nations Association of the USA

Filed under: design tips, Web Design, Creative Direction, Nonprofits, Client Feature, Inspiration

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