Accentuate the Actions
Responding to our invitation in the February issue of FundRaising Success,
Lacy Ward Jr., executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Virginia, an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in court, requested that her organization’s site be analyzed here.
Far from an expert on Web design and functionality, I enlisted the help of Domenic Spinosa, vice president of creative for Wakefield, Mass.-based relationship-marketing firm Epsilon.
Spinosa’s first reaction was a good one. He noted warm colors and visuals that give the site a friendly feeling. Other pluses: The page loaded fairly quickly, there was minimal scrolling necessary, and the logo is in the “right spot.”
“The logo is in the upper left-hand corner, and that’s really the place where most people are putting them — and it’s where it should be. It’s become a staple of Web sites, pretty much like a newspaper,” Spinosa says, adding that, like newspapers, Web sites have trained visitors to look certain places for certain things.
Spinosa is a big fan of using a masthead approach, with informational buttons listed horizontally across the top of the page, just below the logo. CASA of Central Virginia doesn’t use this approach, but he says that what it’s done — breaking out information in the sidebar — is OK because it’s highlighted in blue so visitors are drawn to it. The sidebar information also stays the same from page to page, which Spinosa says is a plus, as everything the organization offers is always accessible to visitors.
Spinosa says that as a visitor, he was drawn to click on the headline, “Be the Difference: Volunteer,”at the top of the page. But it’s not a hyperlink. If you’re using a headline that draws attention, it should be clickable.
“I think you can’t have enough areas where you click,” Spinosa advises. “On this site, I think what they should also do is make ‘volunteer’ a link. It’s minor ... but it quickens the [ability] to get from one spot to another because nine out of 10 sites work that way and their headline is a link.
“Now in this case, if I’ve been trained to do that and it doesn’t work, now you’re asking me to search,” he adds.
Spinosa says the organization should place more emphasis on action-oriented links such as volunteering and on making its “Donate Now” button, which is toward the bottom of the sidebar, more prominent.
Also in terms of links, Spinosa says that a site’s logo should link back to the home page. Here, the logo isn’t linked. And while there’s a “Home” link at the bottom of the sidebar, it wasn’t visible on Spinosa’s screen without paging down.
The black-and-white images the organization uses on its site attract attention and convey a sense of warmth. But rather than keeping the photos to the right of the logo consistent from page to page, Spinosa advises changing the photos to reflect where the visitor is on the site.
WebWatch runs every other month. If you’d like us to profile or analyze your organization’s Web site, e-mail email@example.com.