For most charities 50% (or more) of their revenue for the entire year occurs during the 4th quarter and over one half of that amount arrives during the month of December. December is not the time to make changes, edits or do testing with your website. LEAVE IT ALONE.
The time to test or make improvements on your website is in the spring and summer. During the fall, and especially moving into year-end, the most important thing you can provide for your website is STABILITY.
I amazed this year at the number of charities making 4th quarter modifications on their websites. The root cause may be a desire to spike traffic for “Giving Tuesday” or to increase year end giving, but trust me when I tell you that modifications to the infrastructure of your website could really hurt you during the busiest time of the year. Remember, most websites are what we call relational databases. The HTML code is strung together like lights on a Christmas tree. If you change something in the middle of your website, the odds are problems will occur in other areas of your site that are indirectly linked to the area you changed. Yes, it is very similar to what happens on your tree when a bulb comes loose. You’ll spend many hours twisting every bulb and then ultimately replacing the entire string of lights on your tree. Web site quality control is tough, timely and expensive. It takes hundreds of hours to properly Q.C. and make modifications on your website. Time is the one commodity that you do not have approaching year-end.
Of course, I am NOT talking about things like on line emergency break fixes, Email deployment or Holiday campaign-specific changes (banner/feature/giving page updates for campaigns). However, if you are building new code. Things like adding additional pages or writing new code adding significant features IT COULD BE A BIG MISTAKE at this time of year.
Successful marketing, even with websites, is about minimizing risk to increase opportunity. Remember, if you are like most charities, half of your annual income is at risk. So even if Buddy The Elf has a great idea to make your website more Christmassy… put Buddy in the mail room and keep him away from the computer screen.