How to improve a charity’s acquisition and usability with UX trends

The way charities get the majority of their donations is quickly shifting to a more digital landscape. Charities must keep up with digital design trends to make sure they don’t miss out on donations.

You may think having an online presence is enough; unfortunately, many charities fall short with the design aspect or usability of their site, which can harm donor acquisition and online retention.

What can charities do to change?

Charities and NFP’s should start by evaluating where they are now and reviewing whether the primary goals onsite are instantly clear and are carried throughout the user journey. 

There are a few questions NFP’s should be asking themselves: 

  • Is the donation process simple and intuitive?
  • Does the website convey what the organisation's purpose and goals are?
  • Does the website clearly describe how the organisation uses donations?
  • Is the design theme appropriate, up to date, and suited to the intended audience?
  • Is the site design easy to navigate and consistent throughout the site?
  • Are the articles and information density appropriately handled?

You may have answered yes to one or two of the questions, but if the majority of your answers were no, you need to evaluate what you can do better to improve your online usability and acquisition. 

UX Trends charities should be using.

Many issues on websites can be fixed by following some straightforward but powerful and effective trends, let's take a look at a few of them:

Clear links to your primary call to action.

Whether your primary call to action is encouraging users to donate or to sign up to your newsletter, determine what your main goal is for the page and make it clearly visible to the user during their first home page interaction. It should be easy for the user to see on every step of their online journey. 

Donate buttons are a common addition to the website header, so it's repeated on every page. But it’s worth placing the link within the footer too. Doing this gives the user the chance to follow your call to action whether they’re at the start or end of any page content. 

Making your call to action stand out can be done by highlighting it to the user using an accent colour. Marie Curie has done this by using a bright orange donate button that is visible but visually compliments the colours already used on their site. 

Add a quick donation section.

It’s also good practice to include a quick donation box within the homepage too, as well as placing one above the site footer on other pages. Users want their information quickly, and they want to know how they can help quickly too. Offering a quick donation box allows donors to choose an amount and whether they wish to donate a one-off amount or set up a recurring donate monthly or yearly without clicking through to a donation page.

Although following a quick donation box will still take them through the normal donation process, it persuades users to make an impulsive decision based on initial impressions on the site. Cancer Research has incorporated a quick donation box front and centre of their home page, accompanied by a strong call to action that encourages donors to put their research back on track. 

Give examples of where the money is going.

Charities need to be transparent with their donors about where their money will go. By opening the lines of honest communication, a donor is far more likely to donate if they can see how their money will help. It creates trust in your organisation, and gives the donor a choice, based on the different results of donation tiers displayed to them. WaterAid implements this trend brilliantly by showing exactly how the money donated will help families living in water poverty. 

Use inclusive language

The language used in charity content is vital. It needs to be able to clearly convey what the charity's mission is, as well as persuading the donor to help by donating. Charities need to keep in mind how they speak to their donors and make sure the tone aligns with their site goals too.

Many successful charities address the reader as if they were a donor already, which projects a feeling of inclusivity. Doing this is a simple way of actively addressing the user, and making them feel like they should be part of the cause. WaterAid’s copy is an excellent example of inclusivity in action, ‘thanks to amazing people like you, we’ve been able to provide clean water for over 5000 people’. Before the user has even donated, they feel a part of the charity’s cause, which will push them towards involvement. 

Summarise statistics

We know that donors like to have their information quickly and in bite-size pieces, they can consume easily. So summarising key facts from larger chunks of data will have a more significant effect on achieving your site goals, and avoid overloading the donor. Mixing this technique with inclusive language is an effective way to encourage involvement from donors who haven’t yet donated. 

Organise your information on the homepage

Bounce rate is one of the critical metrics charities should be looking at when making improvements. If your bounce rate is high, it's likely your users can't see the information they are seeking immediately and are simply leaving your site. Users need to be able to view what they want instantly without spending a lot of time reading.

Visual descriptors are being used more regularly now alongside a small section of content that summarises the story you’re trying to tell with the photography. It’s a better way for the donor to digest the organisation’s cause without searching through large sections of information trying to find specifics. The navigation bar is also often made transparent to display only the link’s text, allowing more space for the image and making it more visually striking to the donor.

Be consistent in page hierarchy & navigation. 

Information density is an essential component of a charity's website, especially within the site's main navigation. Because charity websites usually have a lot of content to display, it's a good idea to include the following points in a navigation process, from left to right. 

  • Cause information (what you do)
  • Action points (ways to get involved)
  • Information about the organisation (who you are)
  • Additional pages (shop, knowledge hubs etc.)
  • Action point (donation button)

Utilising a navigation system within main categories allows for a template that can be applied across all pages, giving greater structure to the organisation and more choice for its donors. Subcategories within the main drop-down hands choice back over to the user, so they can navigate towards the level of information they want to at any point. Charities can do this by including a ‘ways to get involved’ navigation point. By incorporating a drop-down that has multiple categories, it allows users to select from any point within the site’s information umbrella, just by hovering over the main navigation point.

After evaluating your organisation’s UX performance, you can start to apply the trends that will improve your user’s donor journey. Helping the user to find the information they want quickly and put the organisation on the path to reach its site goals. The result? An increase in your charity’s donor acquisition and usability.

If you would like to know more about how we can help improve your site's usability, get in touch with the Dreamscape team.

About the author

Rachel Capper

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