I’ve been helping non-profits since pretty much the start of my design/development career in 2006 and the one thing I always noticed was the lack of user experience. As a designer, I find it my biggest responsbility to make the web more accessible, usable and progressive, not just for commercial/retail experiences, but also for non-profits.
Non-Profits are not selling products or any kind of service. They’re here for a cause. A cause to motivate users to become volunteers, donors or fundraisers and ultimately help change the world. And the role of UX designing plays an utterly important part in achieving that cause.
What is User Experience?
In my own language, I would put the definition of user experience as:
The feeling you have when interacting with anything tangible.
On the web, the experience is all about colors, typography, layout, the overall look but most importantly, interaction. Does the website feel slow? Does the button behave like a button (click)? Does the link to another page work? Where do I go next? What do I do next? How do I volunteer? All these are interactions you do on a website.
Non-Profit and UX
For a non-profit, a website is a means to spread the word on their social, economic or whatever cause they believe in; attract donors, win support and raise money.
Times have definitely changed compared to 3-4 years ago when non-profits didn’t care about having a well designed website. I see non-profits engaged in getting specialized UI/UX designers and developers in their team who understand the process very well now. One of those biggest examples (in my personal experience) is America for Animals, with whom I’ve been involved for the last 1.5 years in re-skinning their Humane Eating Project apps (iOS, Android and web). We are a huge distributed team of designers, front-end developers, app developers, sales, marketing, analytics, etc.
In my experience so far, and as I’ve written in my previous post, Designing for non-profits, I find it really easy to introduce UX to non-profits.
UX Design Process
The process of designing is no different than what you would follow in your daily job:
- Research – Non-profits have a very niche cause and it’s easier to understand the target audience, hence, research methods in this case work wonderfully.
- Sketch – Simple paper sketching or you could use your own choice of tool like Sketch app to do so.
- Prototype – I find the prototyping stage to be of great importance as that not only helps understand the flow of the site, but also the user interactions.
- Test – I can’t emphasize enough on testing. Test, test, and test whatever you design, be it with real users, or among your own team.
- Produce – Design comps are handed off to developers to start producing the work and bring it to life.
Important UX Design Elements
We know the process, the stakeholders and team has been well versed with the process too, but now what!
Here I list out important UX design elements that a non-profit survives on.
Tell a Story
Everyone needs a good story. For non-profits, a good story inspires a donor to give. Stories are the basic building blocks for reaching your goals. Studies have shown that donors tend to give twice as much when presented with a story about an affected individual.
Trust is very important for donors. To build that trust, a non-profit needs to clearly explain what work their organization does and how that work is done. This vital information needs to be easily accessible by the users. Displaying pictures of the organization management and volunteers is an addition to building trust.
The “Donate” Button
Like any other element discussed above, the donate button needs to be easily accessible, noticeable and straightforward on every page of he website.
Having an online presence (facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.) is very important these days. For a non-profit, it’s a great way to stay connected with their donors. It greatly helps to build trust.
Non-profits run on very small budgets and they need a great amount of human resource to be able to work on their cause. Having a clear, concise and accessible volunteer page/form helps them work on their goals efficiently and quickly.
Providing straightforward information on the organization, a clear layout, clear call to actions, building trust, are all important factors that can convince people to donate. An easy-to-use website and a great user experience (UX) helps them achieve this.