The British Red Cross website has been relaunched this week, with the aim of simplifying the functionality, making information easier to find, improving accessibility, and providing greater integration with social media channels

I’ve been having a look at the new site, designed by Aqueduct, to see how well it explains the charity’s aims and encourages donations… 

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Homepage

Compared to its previous incarnation, the new website has reduced the clutter, and introduced a clear navigational structure. There is enough space between the various areas on the page to make it easy to make sense of all the information presented. 

The clearest, and most important element on the page encourages visitors to donate to the Pakistan Floods Appeal, or to donate some clothes or other items to Red Cross shops. 

The area on the right of the page above the fold allows people to find put about the Red Cross and its activities in their local area, while the links on the top nav bar are clearly labelled and laid out: 

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Information

A post by Jakob Nielsen last year found a number of issues with charity websites in the US, which he called ‘donation killers‘. The main problems centred around the fact that users found it hard to get information on what their money would be used for, while poor navigation meant that some couldn’t find out where and how to make a donation. 

This isn’t a problem on this website. The ‘what we do’ link on the top navigation bar leads to plenty of information about the kind of work carried out by the charity.

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The donate link is clear on the navigation menu, while there are plenty of clear calls to action on the homepage and around the site. On the donate page, there is information on the kinds of things that your donation will help with, as well as more detailed information via links on the right of the page. 

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The social media integration is provided by a series of links on the homepage to the various British Red Cross profiles on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc, and there is more evidence of this integration on the blog, which contains buttons to retweet or share articles on Facebook.  

Checkout process

No less than any e-commerce site, charities should have a smooth checkout process that allows people to make donations quickly and easily, while providing the necessary reassurances about security. 

It is well designed, mandatory fields are clearly labelled, the number of steps in the process are displayed, and the amount of data entry required of customers has been kept to a minimum.

On the right of the page, a phone number has been provided so that anyone that has questions about the donation doesn’t need to leave the process. 

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The checkout process is almost enclosed, though the search box remains in place throughout, which is an unnecessary distraction for users. 

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The process is nice and easy until you get to the payment page, but is then made more difficult by the addition of a mandatory captcha code.

This is the first time I have seen this used within a checkout process, and while there may be a good reason for it, I can’t think of one. It seems likely that a number of potential donations may be lost as a result of this captcha. 

Conclusion

The new Red Cross website is cleaner and simpler than the old version. The new visitor to the site should be able to easily find the information they are looking for, while it is easy to find out where to donate, though the captcha on the payment page is a potential donation killer.