usability

increase nonprofit website usabilityI’ve always advised nonprofit communicators to put key content up top on website pages, so users don’t have to do anything to see (or act on) it. It’s part of my “make it easy for your base” philosophy. In other words, your want to shape your nonprofit website to generate the actions you need.

So I was thrilled to discover the hard data in website usability guru’s Jakob Nielsen latest research findings: Web users do scroll down to the next “panel,” but only after investing 80% of their focus on what was first visible on the page. That means that content below the fold gets only20% of users attention. In a time of overall attention deficit, starting with 20% isn’t enough.

But but defining the fold is a real challenge: This approach works only if you know where the fold is. And that differs widely depending on browser resolution, screen size and other demands on onscreen vertical space. For those who use your site via smartphone, all bets are off.

My advice to your organization is do what you can to place key content in the first and second paragraphs on every web page — that’s first on the writing for the web success list anyway, to increase content digestion.  Your thoughts? Please email me or comment below.

P.S. Here are three more right-now website revisions your organization should make.

Nancy Schwartz on June 8, 2010 in High-Impact Websites | 1 comment
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I was shaken by new stats on a crucial shift in online user behavior–only 5 to 15% of your website users are coming in through your home page. Tip of the hat to Gerry McGovern’s take on the decline of the home page for clarifying what works now for nonprofit marketing online .

As a result, your site users:

  • Won’t be “introduced” to your organization (as happens when they enter via the front door, or home page).
  • Aren’t likely to know the breadth and depth of content and tools on your sites.
  • Won’t be asked to give or subscribe to your e-news (usually buttons featured on home page).

What to do about the decline of your nonprofit’s home page:

  1. Feature Donate and Subscribe (to e-news) on every page throughout the site, above the fold (e.g. visible without a user scrolling down).
  2. Label navigation elements (buttons, menu bar) to be broadly accessible and include on every page.
  3. Write/revise content to provide context, so users understand and can act, no matter what page they’ve come from (which may be Amazon, a competitor’s site, weather.com or another page on your org’s site).
  4. Include a site search engine window on every page. It’s the easiest way to reduce user frustration level.

This is just one of several critical shifts in site usage patterns I’ve been meaning to share with you. I’m in the process of reconfiguring my consulting site, Nancy Schwartz & Company, and have reviewed current trends in site usage to make it as effective as possible. I’ll be sharing other tips on site design out with you in posts to come.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today .

Nancy Schwartz on April 19, 2010 in High-Impact Websites | 2 comments
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Make Your Web Site Press Friendly, So Journalists Cover Your OrgWeb usability guru Nielsen’s latest Alertbox post emphasizes the imperative of press area usability for journalists, finding that plenty of the Web sites reviewed don’t provide adequate info for media (traditional or “citizen journalists”).

He cautions that poor site usability and missing info in online press areas can turn journalists away from covering your organization or force them to get their information from third-party sources (definitely not your messaging and likely to be incorrect). A shabby online press area is a lost PR opportunity.

Once journalists get to your site (you have to make sure they can), they need access to:

  • Easy-to-find online newsroom: Make sure you have a clean site with a clearly-labeled section called “Press,” “Media” or “News,” where journalists can get quick answers to their questions.
  • Press contacts: Being able to contact a real human being is essential for journalists researching stories. Deadlines mean that information is needed within hours or minutes, so most people would be reluctant to use an email address or contact form with no guarantee of a speedy response.
  • Basic facts: Reporters often need to confirm dates, spellings and more. To help reporters get that information quickly, make sure your sections are clearly labeled.
  • Your org’s perspective and actions on your issues: This is the stuff that differentiates your organizatons from colleagues and competitors. Make it easy-to-find, succinct and clear.
  • Financials: A core credibility meter.
  • Images to use in articles: Also, video and audio for online media. This is the stuff that enages readers which is a journalist’s ultimate goal.

Learn more here, then get to work:
10 Ways to Make Your Online Press Room Perform for Your Nonprofit

P. S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on key nonprofit communications topics featured in the Getting Attention e-alert. Subscribe today.

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Nancy Schwartz on January 28, 2009 in High-Impact Websites, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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