My new friend Adonis Muronzi sent me an email this week asking me to give him feedback on his evolving website, below. Big fat caveat: I am not a usability expert. That said, I am an online donor and I review LOTS of nonprofit websites every week for work. So, I agreed to give him feedback on his site and he agreed to let me share it with you!
Here are my thoughts on Lets Give Them Hope. What do and don't you like about Adonis' site? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
The first thing I noticed when I went to the URL is that the site is clean, i.e. it's not cluttered with images and words. This is good and can be hard to achieve - especially, when every staff member wants to highlight their program success on the homepage!
Rule #1: Include LOTS of "white space" on your site. It makes it easier to scan and pleasing to the eye.
Next, I noticed a picture of a beautiful girl. However, I had to scroll down to see the whole image.
Rule #2: Don't make me scroll! Put the most important information on your site "above the fold." This is the MOST valuable real estate on your website. It's the first thing that everyone sees and many people will not take the time to scroll to the bottom of your site.
After viewing the photo, I looked for the email sign-up box. Full disclosure: My job is to help nonprofits succeed at list-building and email marketing so this is an important feature that I always look for on websites.
Unfortunately, there is no sign-up box on Lets Give Them Hope. Bad news. Why? It means that there is no way for me to ENGAGE with this organization unless I make a donation, which I'd never do on a first date!
Rule #3: Turn your website into a list-building tool by putting an email sign-up box on EVERY page of your website. This will enable you to build your database, stay in touch with constituents, and convert them into donors over time.
My first click on Lets Give Them Hope was to the About Us page to learn more about the organization. This page has another beautiful photo (good job!) but the copy is vague. For example, what is a Care point of hope?
WHO WE ARERule #4: In ALL of your marketing materials (this means your website too), use words and images that make your mission concrete. Stay away from buzz words and phrases that are well understood by organizational insiders but mysterious to outsiders. Remember: I am totally new to your organization!
We are a Christian non-profit organization building Care points of hope in vulnerable communities across sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS, poverty and numbers of orphans are highest and support structures are very low. Our ministry is aimed in skill building and raising up talent which can be used in the future.
Finally, I clicked on the Donate button.
Unfortunately, this part of the website is not complete. Still, here are some tips for ensuring that "your site as a whole is a machine which generates financial support." (This great quote is from Measure Everything by Shabbir Imber Safdar.)
Rule #5: Make your donate button BIG And BOLD so that people can find it! And, put it on every page of your site.
Rule #6: Streamline your donation form. Only ask for critical information. This will reduce donation form abandonment.
For more advice on building and optimizing donation pages on your site, see The 2010 Overachiever's Guide to Year-End Fundraising
Building a website is no small feat. One of the best ways to ensure that it works is to test it! Kudos to Adonis for taking the initiative to get feedback on his site. I hope you will follow suit.
P.S. For a GREAT overview of best practices in website design and practical advice on how to improve your website, read Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
Bonus Rule: Be sure to spell check and edit your website content. For example, Lets Give Them Hope requires an apostrophe in "Let's." :)