Shouldn’t It Be Easier to Act via Social Actions? — Website Audit

Shouldn't It Be Easier to Act via Social Actions -- Website AuditWhen blogger queen Britt Bravo asked me and three other nonprofit marketing mavens to evaluate the recently-launched Social Actions website (and underlying communications approach), I jumped.

After all, I do audits all the time in my marketing strategy work and site strategy is another of my fav assignments, serving as assurance of a positive site audit down the line. But what really intrigues me is the the wonderful vision of Social Actions founder Peter Dietz, the confusing reality of the current site and the gap in between the two.

Here’s Peter’s vision:

"We automatically gather fundraising, volunteer, petition and other sorts of opportunities from 25 partner websites. We have built technology that provides an internet-wide search of these opportunities and helps online publishers embed links to them in their content. Our goal is to make it easier for people to overcome any reluctance or hesitation in taking action on issues they care about."

But, digging into the site my first reaction was, "Where’s the easier, Peter’s key differentiator?" What’s great is that the tool makes it possible to benefit from the data and search capabilities of multiple volunteer/action resources. What’s not so great are the communications approach, and how the interface actually works.

Here are a few ideas on revising SA’s communications strategy and website to engage users and make it easier for them to act:

  • Use clear, consistent and accessible messaging so I stay focused, not confused.
    • The home page refers to 30 actions at top right, and to 24 just below. Disconnects like this undermine credibility and detour my attention away from key content.
    • Although I understand that actions is one of the few words that encompasses all of the opportunities accessible via the site, the broadness of the term makes it difficult for a first-time user to envision what those action choices are. They should be clearly articulated right on the home page.
    • "Actionable aggregated opportunities" is jargon to the nth degree. Plain speak should be the rule.
  • Focus messaging, and the home page, on action opportunities.
    • Too many competing elements. I don’t know where to look.
    • Other ops (like serving as a Social Actions publisher or hiring a consultant) should be secondary. After all, the targets for each offering are very different.
  • Feature a profile w/photo of folks who have found their dream action op through Social Actions, right on the home page. Stories will show that the service is rich, real and relevant.
  • Give me a choice of action and/or issue arena front and center on the home page, leading me to a search menu of action ops.
    • C’mon, make it easy. There are so many things competing for my time and attention.
  • Make finding the right action clearer and easier.
    • When I click "find an action" I get a list of four choices, all of which are equally weighted. Where’s the easy in this?
    • Feature one main path in (Social Actions, the aggregator), with others offered as secondary alternatives
  • Tell me where I am in the site, wherever I am, so I can easily get to the next place I want to be. And let me browse, please.
    • The site’s information hierarchy (how content is arranged) is a mystery, as there are no visual cues like drop-down menus or breadcrumbs. I can’t browse, or dive into what I want.
    • So, when I’m on one page, I can’t easily see the options in moving to related content or  horizontally across the site.
  • Keep me interested with more graphics and photos, less text.
    • Relieve my eyes and give me something beyond dry description. That’ll keep me interested, and bring more life to what you’re doing.
    • Use font size, colors and other graphic elements to highlight what’s most important, and de-emphasize what’s not.

Take a look at Social Actions yourself, and see what you have to add. Please share your suggestions in Comments below.

P.S. Learn how to craft the shortest and most compelling story for your org. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on October 2, 2008 in Case Studies, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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  • Thanks for taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge, Nancy!

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