Nevada Cancer Institute
This month, we’re looking at the Web site for the Nevada Cancer Institute, the only comprehensive cancer center in Nevada. The site for the Nevada Cancer Institute, which opened its doors in 2005, touts its high-quality, state-of-the-art treatment and care, innovative research, and compassionate staff. And while we don’t know how local residents perceive this nonprofit, its Web site certainly seems to reinforce its claims of excellence.
When people are diagnosed with illnesses or diseases, the Internet often is the first place they look for answers and support. So when patients or caregivers visit a Web site, they want to feel like the information they’re getting is trustworthy and reliable. And if that Web site is for an actual treatment facility, they want to feel like the facility will care about and address their specific needs and concerns. The Nevada Cancer Institute gets this. Practicing one of the golden rules of Web design — know thy audience — NVCI’s Web site does a great job speaking to patients, families, doctors, researchers and other audiences.
Easy navigation, good imagery
The first sign that NVCI developed its Web site with its audience in mind is the navigation. It offers two rows of options spread horizontally across the top of every page, and the primary and larger navigation offers four very clear and distinct paths through the site: About Cancer, For Patients, For Physicians and For Researchers. Visitors have limited time to click around hundreds of pages, so NVCI makes it easy for them to find what they need.
The next hallmark of what we Web geeks call user-centric design is imagery that reflects the audience throughout the site. Although nonprofits often have to supplement their own images with stock photography, it’s best to avoid using only stock photography if possible, since stock often feels impersonal and generic. It’s not always possible for certain organizations to feature clients, due to confidentiality, type of programs or budget, but users (and donors!) love to see themselves or people they can identify with. NVCI does this well with professional pictures of patients and providers throughout the site — most notably on its homepage. Dominating the screen is a presentation (using Flash technology) of pictures and quotes from real people connected to NVCI. We get to meet the strong, yet gentle, Dr. Phillip J. Manno, read a few patients’ stories of hope and survival, and learn about Dr. Sheri Holmen’s vision for NVCI’s research labs. Elsewhere on the homepage are videos that show the facility and introduce site visitors to more of the heart and soul behind the institution.
Areas for improvement
But what about donors? Nonprofit Web sites need to consider them, as well. We have a few suggestions for how NVCI (and perhaps you) can better engage and cultivate would-be and actual donors online. When donors come to your Web site, they should never have to hunt for how to give. Donors who start on NVCI’s homepage have to dig through a dozen or so information blurbs to locate the “Ways to Give” call out. Instead, NVCI could offer a compelling line about donating within interactive stories on the homepage and link the story directly to the donation form.
NVCI features an entire section for donors and volunteers called “How to Help,” but it took us some time to find it. This section definitely is a good start, and we think listing the development staff by name reflects the warmth and accessibility of the organization through the site. NVCI could follow some of its own (programs-side) lessons and offer donor profiles, testimonials and stories. And for the donation process itself, it might investigate something a bit more simplified than the three-step process currently in place. We were happy to see the various options for tribute (in honor and memory of) gifts.
NVCI’s tagline is “Hope thrives in the desert,” and it features the tagline prominently throughout the site. We find this sentiment describes our experience exploring its Web site as well. Not only does it present a place of hope and warmth, but also the clear navigation feels like an oasis of clarity in an online desert that often can feel muddled and confused. FS
Sarah Durham is founder and principal and Farra Trompeter is vice president of client relationships and strategy at New York-based consultancy Big Duck.