Snap to Focus
On reading our February WebWatch featuring the Save the Children Web site, a member of the development staff at Surgical Eye Expeditions International, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based organization that provides medical, surgical and educational services to disadvantaged blind people worldwide, requested that we critique SEE’s site.
I enlisted the help of Sarah Durham, principal and founder of NYC-based
communications firm Big Duck, which works exclusively with nonprofits.
For starters, Durham says it’s important when writing Web code to test the code on different Web browsers. For Mac users accessing SEE’s site through Internet Explorer, for example, the “GIVE. Make a difference! CLICK HERE” button on the homepage doesn’t show up, and when viewing drill-down pages in Safari, the navigation device — which changes from a vertical bar on the main page to a horizontal bar at the top of drill-down pages — doesn’t appear. It’s something that a professional coder easily can fix.
She applauds the engaging photographs of the people SEE serves on the main page and especially likes the tag line, “Giving the gift of sight worldwide … to disadvantaged children and adults along with dignity, hope and productivity that accompany each free sight restoring surgery,” but she says the organization should make it easier to read and more prominent, as it gets to the heart of what SEE is about. The more real content — breaking news, current projects or anecdotes — an organization puts on its homepage, the more likely visitors will be to stay and go deeper into the site.
There are a lot of big elements competing for visitors’ attention on the homepage — the name of the organization, the main navigation device, the photographs, the logo, the “Night for Sight 2006” banner, etc.
“So that tag line becomes the least important thing on the page when actually, in many ways, it’s the most important element because it’s the only thing on the homepage that tells you what, specifically, they do,” Durham says, adding that SEE needs to sort out its hierarchy and decide which are the most important things it wants to communicate.
Durham recommends the organization restructure its homepage to be consistent with the drill-down pages, with the logo at the top left of the page and horizontal navigation.
“Keep the logo up at the top, make the navigation consistent, and then emphasize the real content: the value of their work — ideally their mission statement and breaking news, urgent work they’re doing, everything a visitor needs to understand why SEE is a valuable organization they should support,” she says.
SEE should invite people who are part of its target audience — donors, potential partners or volunteer doctors — to test drive the Web site, Durham suggests. Watch how they navigate, what pages they look at, what pages they ignore, how much time they spend reading a page, etc. This is one way it can restructure its site to be more user friendly, and something it easily can do on its own.
To view SEE’s Web site, go to www.seeintl.org.
So, you’ve got a Web site …
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