Many non-profits struggle with website redesign projects because they are such a huge undertaking. They can be both time and labor intensive – involving numerous stakeholders (board members, department directors, and key staff) and often you don’t see results for more than a year.
Convio’s proven methodology, ensures that clients take a more iterative, quick hit approach that allows them to see results faster while tackling the larger web presence redesign in parallel.
Project HOPE is a Convio client I work with who recently re-launched their site after only working with our interactive agency practice for 4 months. The new site has immediately improved the user experience and increased donations. The client worked with us on a quick turnaround redesign project which we started by conducting several interviews with key HOPE stakeholders. Armed with increased knowledge of the organizational goals and priorities, we developed a new information architecture and wireframes for the site. Then, since any successful web site redesign (even a quick one) should incorporate feedback from real users, we tested out the wireframes with some of HOPE’s target constituents. Once finalized, we designed a sharp new look and feel, which is live on the site today.
Katya Andresen gave kudos to Project HOPE for the effort thus far, but what people may not realize is that the team is working on a bigger launch in another few months where we will infuse even more user research and data with the stakeholder input driving the larger initiative.
Keep your eyes open for the next launch and thanks to the Project HOPE team for their great work in the Haiti Earthquake response.
I’m a sucker for new web tools and gadgets and luckily I am surrounded by, and work for, many folks afflicted by the same condition. Last week I saw a TechCrunch article about an SEO analysis tool that went BETA on January 20th called WooRank which has become a quick favorite. Provide this tool with any URL, and it will give you a breakdown and ranking of how well the site does against most of the standard SEO best practice areas and gives you tips for improving your ranking.
The current free version compares 50 fields but the soon-to-be-released version will have 120, according to the TechCrunch article. For me, the free 50-field version is a good gut check on how well I have my SEO basics down as I code and develop a site. For my non-profits friends, it is definitely a great amount of value and insight from only a 15 minute investment in reviewing the results.
At the risk of being hunted down by some friends in marketing, I tested Convio.com to see how well our homepage faired. Fortunately, we came out above average with a score of 66.4. (To give some perspective, median is 51.4 (of sites currently tested), and sites such as code.google.com, Wikipedia and Mozilla.org are in the high 80’s/low 90’s. Like most sites, Convio.com has a mix of easy and hard fixes that will have to be address over time. However, knowing what need to be done now means tweaks can be worked into other projects that are planned in the near future which will reduce overall implementation time.
For most of my results, WooRank had descriptions of what the crawlers are looking for and how I could improve the ranking. The descriptions are very helpful and they link to other references and resources for digging deeper if you want more information. If you are new to SEO, or like me, have long stints between these types of projects where you might forget some of the standard best practices, then it’s a great one-page refresher on what you should be thinking about.
There were a couple things I found myself hoping for in the tool that I would like to see in future releases. Not every item description has information that is actionable by me which can be frustrating. (For example, the Alexa and Compete ranks being ‘high impact’, but there are no descriptions as to why or how.) Also, one of the mantra’s of many SEO companies is ‘content is king’, yet there aren’t many references on the site related to writing good SEO content. However, these items are minor compared to what you do get overall and they could be soon available in the premium version, so I’m interested to see what the new 70 fields will include.
I can describe the tool more but really it’s easier to play around with it at http://www.woorank.com/. Any thoughts on how this stacks up against more industry standard SEO tools that are paid-for services?
Despite the difficult economy, American consumers will be going online in record numbers to support charitable causes in the final four weeks of the year – giving an estimated $4B online. This according to The North American Technographics® Omnibus Online Survey, Q4 2009 (US), a commissioned omnibus survey conducted by Forrester’s Technographics® on behalf of Convio. More than 63% of online consumers plan to use the Internet to donate to charities of their choice during the upcoming holiday season, up from 51% in 2008 – when you look at the amount they plan to give it looks like organizations ready to engage online could see a more prosperous holiday season than those late to the online game.
In the tough economy that might not make up for the revenue that some organizations have lost, but it is a significant shift in the giving habits of the US consumer. There is a bunch of data, but here are a few things that jumped out at me:
Two other salient points that I took from the data show good news and bad news, depending on one’s perspective:
Hopefully you are executing a well thought-out and designed year-end campaign and are ready to engage these consumers as donors. If you are great. But if not, our experts in our services and support functions took the key findings from the survey and created a last minute guide to help organizations be more successful in the last four weeks of the year. You can download the entire guide, but here is my summary of the information – really download the guide.
Four tips to help succeed in the last four weeks of the year:
With consumer dollars being tight and the competition for donations growing, online marketing and fundraising continues to grow in importance for donors and organizations alike. It is clear that online giving has joined traditional channels as mission-critical part of the giving mix and successful organizations are investing accordingly in their online relationships. Don’t get tied around the $4B estimate, rather look at the millions of people that are available to engage and build relationships with this holiday season. Use this season as an opportunity to engage with them’ to cultivate a relationship; and create a sustained relationship that yields returns for many years.
With the Holiday Giving season ramping and the recession having a negative impact on donations, charities are expanding their eCommerce offerings to better meet consumer’s needs. We are finalizing research into the holiday giving plans of consumers, but preliminary data show that 61% of online consumers plan to give online this year, up from 51% last year – that’s more than 106 million Americans giving online in the last 4 weeks of the year.
Nearly 21% have not yet decided how much to give and to what charity. According to the National Retail Federation U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2 percent drop from 2008. According to research in by the Chronicle of Philanthropy the top 400 charities expect 2009 giving to be down by as much as 9%. While there is no doubt that this is not good news, the data does shed light on opportunity.
Of that 106+ million people looking to give, there are about well over 20 million Americans who might be torn between buying a gift for a loved one or friend and giving to charity. Thus, we have talked to a number of clients who are giving constituents the best of both worlds this holiday season – giving the gift of charity and giving a gift from charity.
Our founder and CSO, Vinay Bhagat was quoted last week in The New York Times about the trend, and today our client American Red Cross was also written up in the Times about their first "Gifts that Save the Day" catalogue. The Yellowstone Parks Foundation is offering their first online gift this year, and online stalwarts like World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Oxfam America, Humane Society of the United States, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg, UNICEF, Animal Humane Society, Project Bread and dozens of others are making it easy to give gifts to the people that mean the most to you and give to charity.
You can give everything from a traditional ornament to lions and tiger and bears (Oh my) (really you can adopt a lion, tiger and/or bear), you can give bees and goats or even a pile of manure for that special someone...a little more traditional you can give museum membership or buy that Andy Warhol replica that would look great in the hallway...the really neat thing about shopping online from charity is it is easy to find the perfect gift for anyone – even the person that has it all. I'm really looking forward to seeing my teenage daughter when she learns she's getting manure - She'll be happy when she learns it supports Oxfam. Most importantly the gift you give to the person you love support causes that feed, protect and care for children, the poor and the homeless, protect wildlife and the environment, educate and enrich our communities and make a difference in the lives of millions of people – that is the true spirit of the season.
I KNOW that I have left off some examples of how our clients are using eCommerce and other Convio products to bring gift giving and giving together this year, so I ask you to share your opportunity here – let’s create a clearing house for online gifts that make a difference this holiday season.
Let’s help make the year-end giving season come alive for your friends, family and the nonprofits that make a difference.
In my last post, I explained why you should be listening to your users. Listening is monumentally important when you’re redesigning your website. Successful websites all incorporate user research and feedback throughout the design process.
When you initially decide to redesign, it may be based on feedback from your site visitors. You may have heard from your constituents that your site is outdated or that it’s difficult to find information. Alternatively, you could be redesigning because of an internal push from your organization. Either way, it’s important to keep in mind that your website is for the visitors. Ask them what they want that they don’t have today. Ask what issues they have with your current site so you don’t make the same mistakes again. You can have these conversations through an online survey or through individual conversations with your constituents. You can utilize and assess data you may already have from emails or calls coming in about the website. Collecting this data and incorporating it into your must-have list is the first step to a successful, user-centered design.
Once you’ve made some research-backed decisions about your new website, you should test it out. We’ve had great success testing out wireframes before the design has even begun. After all, if you don’t have a strong underlying structure, there’s no way to cover it up with a snazzy new visual design. Also, participants are more likely to provide candid, direct feedback to wireframes. They see an unfinished product and realize there’s still time to make changes. Run your wireframes by a few members of your target audience. Ask them where they’d go to donate, learn more about you, or accomplish other key tasks. Then, make changes based on what you learn. If you have time, it’s great to test the visuals too, but make it a point to test early. You’ll avoid costly and time consuming changes down the road.
Do you have experience listening to your users while redesigning? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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