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Are You Making it Hard for Donors to Give?

Of course not, right? But maybe you’re not a good judge of how easy or hard it really is. I recently sent my mother an email with a link in it — she called me to say she didn’t know how to look at the information I was sending. My mother might not be happy if I gave her age, but let’s just say she certainly falls into the demographic of people who are good candidates for philanthropy. So what if my mother (or really anyone who is a bit less technologically capable) came to your website and wanted to make a donation. Would they be able to find how to do it and complete the process without a struggle? Do you really know?

Usability testing is an important technique in software product development. However, you don’t need to be an expert or even spend any money to learn if, and more importantly, what is difficult or confusing for potential donors. All you have to do is ask a few random people (and of course your mom) to make a small donation … and then just watch. Don’t provide any guidance or say anything, just watch and take notes. Look for:

How much time & clicks it takes them to get to the right place?

Where do they seem confused or take a long time?

What mistakes do they make?

When they are finished, you can ask and/or answer questions to get a better understanding of their experience and then consider how you could eliminate extra steps, confusion and mistakes.

Here are a few pieces of advice that should help:

1) Eliminate or minimize choices. It may seem like a great idea to provide multiple ways to give, but often making additional decisions creates confusion for the donor.

2) Don’t be so sure that more explanation or text will make the process clearer. If data has to be entered in a particular format, it can be helpful to show the desired format next to a field (e.g. MM/DD/YY). But if it takes a paragraph of explanation, something more fundamental is wrong.

3) Minimize the number of fields or questions. Form completion rates decline in direct proportion to the amount of data being asked for so ask for just the information you absolutely need.

If you do make changes to your form, try repeating your test with another small group of people. Hopefully, you have a big family, but you can also stop someone in the hallway or knock on a neighbor’s door. Not only will you make it easier for donors to give, but maybe you’ll even spread the word about your cause to someone new.

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