Malaysian NGO Website Problems & What You Can Learn From Them

website question & answer with redbox studio

We have a heart for NGOs because their work improves the community. From time to time, we support NGO initiatives with our Redbox Easyweb website system.

Cat Beach Penang and Penan Women Project come to mind. We support these two NGOs with sponsored websites so that they can reach out to more people and funding.

However, there are also larger NGOs that need help.

For larger NGOs, Redbox Easyweb just wouldn’t do as their needs are more complex. Larger NGOs have specific needs that need to be addressed.

Larger NGOs also suffer from information bloat. Their websites are rich in content. While being rich in content is a good thing, it is nonetheless, a problem as their visitors are unable to find what they need.

So this week’s blog post comes from an email that we sent to an established non-profit organisation.They reached out to us to ask about helping them not just with their website redesign but their brand communications.

Before we do any work, we need to discuss with the business or organisation first. Without a consult, we’d be going in blindly without a context.

At the same time, we were also working with another NGO on redesigning their old website. Hence we were in a good position to inform this NGO about the work we were currently doing.

As you can see, our work isn’t about designing websites – it’s about a communications strategy. This refers to streamlining communications and clarifying the overall message on the NGO website.

Why do you need to get clear? Without a clear message, your donors, funders and supporters will never understand the good work that you do as an NGO.

Remember, if they don’t get it, they won’t support it.

If you want to understand how websites work and how to create the right credibility, check out our new book here. 


Dear [name removed]

We are now developing a website for a regional NGO and their needs seem to be similar to yours. Perhaps this will help you see too how we can help.

They were so caught up in their work and campaigns that they forgot they needed to keep their donors/supporters/fans updated and informed more concisely about their work.

They realised they had a major problem when website users found their website confusing.

They had their website developed in-house and maintained in-house for many years.

As they ran many campaigns, their website was turning out to be a monster – like Frankenstein – with bits here and there and possibly held together by random links.

Their style and image weren’t consistent and colours were used without any idea what it meant for their supporters/users/readers.

When they reached out to us, their website was already blacklisted by Google because their website had been hacked. Their in-house webmaster had no idea of this problem until we alerted them. They forgot to back up their website and install the needed security features.

This is a major problem for most NGOs’ as they usually use WordPress (because it’s free) but they forget that WordPress needs constant backing up and version updates.

WordPress is widely used but it is also a big problem if NGOs don’t have webmasters who can manage the security backups of their websites.

Getting a website is the easy part; maintenance and management are often the toughest and that is why most web designers hand the website over to you the moment it is completed. They don’t want to be bothered when problems happen.

To be fair, it happens not just to NGOs but also business owners who want a cheap website but forget that their brand and reputation can go down the drain when their websites are hacked or turn up on Google as a “blacklisted” site.

Worse, a hacked website can be used for many years by spammers to send out spam email without the owner knowing anything about it!

This NGO finally reached out to us because they were going nowhere with their website. They needed a fresh, external perspective to see how they could refresh their image, improve their messaging and connect with their pool of donors directly.

Regardless of whether we run businesses or NGOs, the aims are the same. In business, we need to get prospects and clients. In NGOs, we need to get funders and supporters. Hence, your message must be clear.

But most times, entrepreneurs and NGOs are so involved in the day-to-day operations, fire-fighting and trouble-shooting that they can hardly see the forest for the trees, much less spend time ensuring people get their message.

This is where it’s useful to have an external consultant like us come into the picture.

Because we are not involved, we can immediately pinpoint advantages you have (but are not highlighting as much as you should) and help you a workable plan for creating, managing and distributing your content across all platforms (social included since the social landscape is always evolving). This is where you could use our consultation.

The consultation session helps you clarify the needs of your organisation before moving forward.

The moment we start talking to you, we’re already giving you ideas and recommendations for your marketing. This is in itself value regardless of whether you decide to redesign your website or not.

In the one or two hours that we spend together, we’ll show you how you can improve your website as well as marketing. After this session, you can take our ideas, recommendations and suggestions and give them to your in-house person to execute/implement. We’re fine with this too. Or you may give our recommendations to an external party (i.e. web designer) and get him or her to redesign your website. That is also fine by us.

When you work with us, even in the consultation phase, we are on your team. We are able to provide recommendations and suggestions because our work covers not just design but communications and marketing.

We are not vendors; we are your partners because we have your back. It means we have to know all bases – technical, programming, design, content, marketing and PR.

You are getting our years and years of experience and knowledge in a consultation and at the end of that session, you have a clearer idea how you wish to move forward, not just for your website redesign but also for the rest of your communications.

Then you’d know what next steps to take.

You don’t have to grope in the dark anymore. You can also decide how to allocate your budget for the rest of your needs be it training your team, redesigning your website, improving your social presence etc.

We are fine if you’d like to speak to other providers. In fact, I highly encourage you to do so. It would give you a clearer picture of what others offer and what we offer.

Our services (design or consults) are priced at a premium because our websites do work wonderfully to generate prospects and customers for our clients (not hearsay but truly proven).

You don’t get junior sales executives who think you’re just another customer; you’re getting people who care about your NGO as much as you care about your NGO.

I hope you understand where we’re coming from. I hate to use the word “passionate” but really, we are passionate about getting rid of lousy websites that don’t do anything for their owners. We dislike designers who are just doing their job for the sake of doing their job.

I hope this email, lengthy as it is, answers your questions. If it hasn’t, feel free to email again.

Thanks and make it a productive week!



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