Non-Profit Web Site Usability

Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen recently released a study on the usability of non-profit web site and receiving donations online. The article is at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/nonprofit-donations.html. The important excerpts are:

“Non-profits would collect much more from their websites if only they’d clearly state what they are about and how they use donations. Our new usability studies revealed considerable frustration as potential donors visited sites and tried to discern various organizations’ missions and goals — which are key factors in their decisions about whether to give money….Well-designed non-profit websites are particularly suited for attracting new donors and efficiently supporting small-scale impulse giving. Websites are less effective at sustaining long-term donor relationships. For encouraging customer (or donor) loyalty, e-mail newsletters remain the Internet tool of choice.”

“What donors want:

We asked participants what information they want to see on non-profit websites before they decide whether to donate. Their answers fell into 4 broad categories, 2 of which were the most heavily requested:

  • The organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work.
  • How it uses donations and contributions.

That is: What are you trying to achieve, and how will you spend my money?

Sadly, only 43% of the sites we studied answered the first question on their homepage. Further, only a ridiculously low 4% answered the second question on the homepage. Although organizations typically provided these answers somewhere within the site, users often had problems finding this crucial information. “

“The donation-killers:

  • 47% were usability problems relating to page and site design, including unintuitive information architecture, cluttered pages, and confusing workflow.
    • Amazingly, on 17% of the sites, users couldn’t find where to make a donation. You’d imagine that donation-dependent sites would at least get that one design element right, but banner-blindness or over-formatting caused people to overlook some donation buttons.
  • 53% were content issues related to writing for the Web, including unclear or missing information and confusing terms.”
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