Tips to Improve Online Fundraising
Web site architecture and design can significantly improve your online fundraising success. In the session, “How You Can Dramatically Increase Your Fundraising Success by Improving Your Website’s Information Architecture and Design” at the Kintera 2008 User Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, attendees were given tips to effectively evaluate and utilize Web site architecture and design to boost online fundraising.
Here’s a quick summary:
1. Help people find and do what they want quickly. Effective information architecture and design is reflected by intuitive, easy-to-use navigation. A Web site with high usability navigation helps visitors, regardless of the type of information they are seeking, quickly find what they came to the site for. Good usability leads site visitors to respond, not just browse.
2. Make it easy to respond. Visitors easily can get distracted on a Web site. Therefore, it’s helpful to repeat key action elements across Web pages. Duplicating design elements like “donate now” buttons or sign-up links helps keep constituents on track. It will help visitors remember why they came to the site and encourage them to take action.
3. Use the upper right for key action items. High usability/high response Web sites use the upper right corner of the page for calls to action. This includes donating, sign-ups and other highly valued actions/responses. In Web site real estate, this location has become the place to highlight desired activity.
4. Utilize buttons to draw attention and drive response. Buttons can be another way to drive engagement and response. Adding a brief statement like “help children in Darfur” or “help save a whale” serves as a quick way to communicate the impact a supporter can make, and make response simple and direct.
5. Keep it simple; usable is better than pretty. Clutter and confusion are the enemies of response. Compare the No. 1 airline site, Southwest.com, to all other airline sites. Notice the simplicity of the Southwest homepage — no forms to fill out, just clear choices that lead you to what you want to do. Industry studies show that Southwest monetizes site visitors more effectively than any other airline.
6. Don’t let SEARCH drive people away. Depending on what research source you trust, 30 percent to 70 percent of all site searches end in failure. And failed search leads to a high abandonment rate (most research shows rates of 50 percent or more). So include search on your site, but not in high-response locations like the upper right. Try placing search in left navigation or even in bottom navigation.
7. Test, test, test, and adjust for greater impact. The Web gives fundraisers and direct marketers quick and cost-effective testing options that are not available offline. Your site visitors and constituents will tell you what they think about your architecture, design and usability by how they respond. Test for the best response and watch your results improve significantly.