Just about every digital charity has a website today, but not every digital charity has a good one. The difference between a good website and an ineffective one usually comes down to one important factor: user experience (UX) design.
UX refers to any and all the interactions that a visitor has with a charity website, from the moment they arrive at the landing page, to the time that they click away. Good UX design ensures that the customer experience is as enjoyable, easy, frustration-free, and smooth as possible. That means that the visitor can accomplish what they want to achieve (such as accessing information on a particular topic or finding appropriate resources) as efficiently as possible, and the charity can deliver its services or solicit donations effectively.
Put more simply, good UX design ensures that a charity website visitor’s journey on the website is a pleasant and productive one for all parties concerned.
The importance of good UX design should not be underestimated. That’s because it can have a profound effect on whether a charity achieves its goals with its website. Small changes - which may cost very little to implement compared to the overall cost of the website - can lead to big improvements in terms of outcomes. For example, Cancer Research UK made a number of alterations to its website to make it easier for users to navigate. The result? An astonishing 294% increase in the number of clickthroughs it received, all thanks to better UX design.
Every charity website is different, and the balance between digital fundraising, information provision, service delivery and any other goals will vary. But here are five UX design tips for making a charity website a better one, with suggested actions you can take.
1.) Improve your landing page
This is where UX begins, and good UX design on your home or other landing pages can help ensure that visitors stay on your charity website. It can also be the difference between a brief and unproductive visit and one which ends in them making a donation.
Carry out A/B testing of different options or subtle changes to your landing page to see which ones result in better outcomes. Common things to test are changes to navigation aids, changes in how the aims of the charity are presented, and changes to the way that donations are solicited – perhaps by making a "Donate now!" button larger or a different colour.
2.) Make sure your charity website is mobile friendly Few things are less conducive to good UX than a website viewed on a mobile device that displays incorrectly. This may mean that navigation is difficult or impossible, or that when a visitor is finally at the point of making a donation, volunteering to help, or some other action, they are unable to do so because a form is unusable.
Consider a separate mobile website as an alternative to a site which adapts automatically to mobile browsers.
3.) Ensure that your website is accessible to everyone Most charities want to make their website accessible to people with disabilities such as visual impairment as a matter of course to ensure that no-one is excluded. It also makes good "business" sense to ensure that anyone is able to visit the site, and make a donation, regardless of any disability they may have.
Action: One simple step is ensuring that all images, including donation buttons, have useful metadata that allows screen readers to provide suitable information to visually impaired visitors.
4.) Make donating easier A principal aim of many charities’ websites is digital fundraising, so one of the principal considerations should be ensuring that anyone visiting the website with the intention of making a donation can do so as easily as possible.
A donation option should be prominent on every page. You can help prospective donors by making a small range of "suggested" donations, offering repeat donations, and translating those suggestions into outcomes (such as "feed a family for a week" or "buy school textbooks for ten children").
It’s also important to make the payment process as easy as possible. Possible changes to consider include whether your payment form can be simplified or made clearer, and whether the actual payment process is best carried out in-house or by a third-party provider.
5.) Listen to users UX design aims to put users at the heart of design considerations, but you can only do that if you really understand your website users and their digital customer experience.
The way to build up such an understanding is to listen to what they have to say about your charity website: what they like and dislike about it, what they find difficult, slow or frustrating to achieve, and what steps they think would improve things.
There are a number of ways that you can get feedback from your users, including online questionnaires, feedback forms, or contact users (with their permission) to talk to them.