Managing Director at User Vision
05 June 2005 15:16pm
Online donations are a quick and cost effective way for charities to raise money. During the tsunami appeal at the start of the year the online response was fantastic, with donations pouring in on charity websites. Leading the non charity push Amazon.com, who utilised its streamlined and user friendly purchase process for the appeal, recorded US$3 million in aid in the first four days alone.
User Vision has put together a quick start usability guide to online donations. Reviewing several charity website we found a lot of good practice. Drawing on that and our own experience of transactional websites we have come up with eight basic points to make ensure that nothing gets in the way of users donating online. Here are a summary of those points.
1. Have a clear call to action: The call to action needs to be bold and straightforward. Several sites we reviewed used images to try to raise the visibility of the ‘Donate’ link, but actually ended up reducing its visibility by making it looking like an advert. Text links using clear language (‘Donate’, ‘Donate now’, ‘Donate money’) worked best.
2. Concisely explain the benefit of donating: Users should be able to tell at a glance why they should donate and how their donation will help, but this message should not get in the way of completing the process.
3. Suggest amounts but allow specified amounts as well: Suggesting amounts, and showing how they can benefit the charitable cause, takes some of the thinking away for users and can be combined effectively with letting donors know how they will help. However, there should still be a field to allow users to specify odd amounts.
4. Keep forms clear and simple: Form usability is a whole article in itself; however follow these basic steps to make sure the forms conform to best practice: - Do not ask user to register with your site to donate - Only ask for essential information - Make the labeling of each field clear and in simple language, - When errors occur in a form clearly point out to the user which fields are affected
5. Make sure the Gift Aid option is clear: Charities need individuals to opt in to the Gift Aid to allow them reclaim the basic rate of tax already paid on all donations made by individuals. Yet many people who do not regularly give to charities will not be familiar with Gift Aid. This needs to be presented clearly and concisely so users understand the benefits to the charity of opting in.
6. Emphasise security: Have a clear statement of security on the first form page. If a third party payment site is used, users should be warned that they will transfer to another site and it should be emphasised that this is a secure method of paying.
7. … and privacy: A transparent opt in (as opposed to opt out) option for future contact will increase users trust in a site. No one likes to think that a site is trying to obtain their contact details to use without their permission.
8. Integrate third party payment providers seamlessly: As mentioned above, some charities use third party payment process, like WorldPay. Minimise the surprise element by warning users they will transferred to another site and try to maintain site branding. This ensures that the donation process is not too disjointed.
Read the full version of this article with examples on the User Vision site: http://www.uservision.co.uk
Full article: Usability guide to donations. http://www.uservision.co.uk/usability_articles/usability_donations.asp
Chris Rourke User Vision
Free market research on digital marketing
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