Designing Sites for Nonprofits

Search “nonprofits and website usability” and Google will spit out dozens of great posts on user experience. What it won’t give you, however, is something that many cash and resource-strapped nonprofits value even higher – advice on how to manage the site. Where well-off companies might leave site management to a content strategist or IT director, nonprofits rely on us—the UX professionals building their sites—to find alternative solutions. After many discussions with people in the nonprofit sector, I’ve learned that developers and consultants tend to focus on exciting features and intuitive user flows (as well they should), but neglect to discuss one key element with their clients: what will happen after the site launches? As a result, nonprofits waste valuable resources trying to work with sites their staff can’t manage to update or maintain. Their websites grow stagnant and unusable at a time when even the poorest of the people they serve are searching for online resources. Essentially, for small to medium-sized nonprofits (and even some small businesses), a great website is defined not by groundbreaking bells and whistles, but by the basic features many web companies overlook. In other words, in our efforts to provide an excellent end-user experience, we can’t neglect the site admin’s experience. Last August I combed through the 77 applications for Chicago Cause, a competition in which a nonprofit is chosen to receive a free new website. Flipping through the applications, I found myself getting frustrated for these organizations—many of which couldn’t do anything with their websites. Here’s a sampling of what these nonprofit directors said: “What I’d really like is to be able...

An Icon is Worth 1,000 Words

A picture is worth one thousand words. This aphorism means even more when we apply it to icons: save, open, and print are just a few of the many actions we associate with a simply sketched image. The “hamburger” menu icon is newer to the icon family, and yet it is now nearly as ubiquitous as its namesake food. Yet when UX designer James Foster conducted a series of A/B tests, he found it suffered in clarity compared to the simple word “menu.” James Foster began A/B testing to satisfy his curiosity: would the full hamburger test better than the simple “three lines” menu icon? It did. He then compared the full hamburger to the word “menu” surrounded by a border, and that tested even better – 12.9% better. The test led him to the conclusion that the hamburger icon is not as universally understood as a square button—like box with the name of the item. For those of us with less time on our hands, we can’t spend days running A/B tests on every icon and word combination. Even if we could, the tests alone might not provide a clear answer; plenty of designers and developers have struggled over whether icons or text are “better” with no clear decision. This article will do the heavy lifting for us, compiling research on when icons are the better choice, and when the written word will best suit our needs. Icons for space constraints The primary reason a designer might choose icons rather than text is simple: icons take up less space. This has risen to the top of the priority...

What Testing Won’t Tell You

What do users think and feel while setting up an online store? This week, Lynsey Thornton from Shopify tells us what the Shopify team learned while investigating this very question. The post What Testing Won’t Tell You appeared first on UX...

Designing Digital Strategies, Part 1: Cartography

As digital products and services come to comprise an increasingly important part of our everyday life, the division between the digital and the physical begins to blur. We can, for instance, see a washing machine on TV, read reviews of it online, purchase it on our phone, and have it installed by our local shop—all […] The post Designing Digital Strategies, Part 1: Cartography appeared first on UX...

UIEtips: Designs and deliverables are haikus, not epic poems

In today’s UIEtips, we’re publishing an excerpt from the UXmatters article “Developing UX Agility: Letting Go of Perfection” by Carissa Demetris, Chris Farnum, Joanna Markel, and Serena Rosenhan. In it, Chris Farnum talks about design deliverables and their role in an incremental approach to your design. If you want to hear more about Chris’ thinking on design deliverables join us for our January 30 virtual seminar Choosing the Right Wireframe Strategy for Your Project. Here’s an excerpt from the article: Once you have a firm grasp of the goals for a project and the functionality you need to design, the next steps for many UX professionals are creating user stories, wireframes, and prototypes. To kick off design, we often brainstorm and sketch. Often, cutting edge Web sites and a desire to meet or exceed competitors fuel our ideas in part. While you are in brainstorm mode, it’s certainly a good idea to sketch out a full user experience, complete with all the latest bells and whistles that would delight users and impress stakeholders. But when you begin to craft a user experience for the initial stories that you’ll deliver to your Development team for implementation, you’ll need to be a strict editor and include only the core user interface elements. Limiting scope in this way can be challenging when you are used to waterfall approach, in which you may have only one chance to document all of the user interface elements you think your design should include. Read the article Designs and Deliverables are Haikus, Not Epic Poems. How does your team limit project scope in the early design stages? Tell us about it...