Charity web at 30

The World Wide Web is 30 today (11 March 2019). Five years ago I used the Wayback Machine to look at trends in charity website design, using British Red Cross as an example. Here is the post, now updated with lessons from 2019.

Is your charity website keeping up with the latest developments in design and functionality?

Starting out – 1998

British Red Cross website 1998

The British Red Cross homepage in 1998 shows that the web standard of logo in top-left was there from the start. The site was very basic, probably hand-coded in html and uploaded via FTP.

  • Brochure-ware content – dense homepage to be read like a book.
  • Email to make a donation.
  • ‘Click here’ links.
  • No images.
  • No search.
  • Approx 10 pages. Only one-level down.
  • Sponsored by Vauxhall.

Increased functionality – 2006

British Red Cross 2006

Fast-forward eight years and the 2006 homepage leads with an appeal. Fundraising and raising awareness is now most important. There is greater awareness of design. More thought about actions and audience.

  • Published using CMS.
  • Images but no coherent design.
  • Site-wide (top) and left-hand navigation.
  • Fundraising prominent – 6/12 ‘Quick Links’ are fundraising. Donate now tab.
  • Search button.
  • Functionality – ‘In my area’.
  • Accessible links.
  • No social media (Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter in 2006).

Integrated digital comms – 2014

British Red Cross website 2014

Another eight years and now the 2014 website still leads with an appeal using a single emotive image. The site is sophisticated offering many opportunities for interaction, transaction, discussion and commerce but also has a presence across many other digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blog, Apps, games etc). It feels like digital is now being taken more seriously.

  • Multiple channels (links to six network channels at the bottom of the page).
  • Optimised for mobile / tablet.
  • Many opportunities for interaction.
  • Greater use of video, audio, photos, games to tell a story.
  • Donation button and quick PayPal option on homepage.
  • CMS powered, integration with CRM and other databases.
  • Evolution of ‘in your area’ functionality.
  • Accessibility buttons.

Website in 2019

Red Cross homepage in 2019. 10s full-screen video

Now the 2019 homepage is all about clarity and impact. Previously the homepage would have had to work hard at promoting everything as most people would go to the homepage first. Now sites are so well indexed with people going direct to the pages they are looking for, so the homepage can be devoted to telling a story or running a campaign. The homepage can appeal to hearts and minds rather than acting as a directory.

The currently site uses a full-screen video for the current appeal. It shows 10 seconds of different views from Yemen to tell a story to drive donations.

Below the appeal, the page is segmented into sections with different types of links (UK appeals, get help in a crisis, support, first aid, how we help, shop). These use colour and photos to make it easy to use. This architecture is replicated in the top-level navigation which is now reduced to five options.

  • Images are more powerful, instantly telling a story. Video is centre-stage.
  • Simplified navigation (no more What we do, Where we work etc).
  • Language is shorter and has more impact. Links are 1-3 words. Appeal text is ‘Help give life-saving aid to families in desperate need’. In contrast with ‘Help us continue giving thousands of people vital aid in this desperate situation. Please give what you can today’ from 2014.
  • Donate button on top right-hand side.

Web design in 2019

I have been training people on writing for the web since 2003 – over half of the web’s life – and working on websites since 1996. Many of the old rules still apply (short sentences, headings, meaningful link text etc). But the way we consume information and content online in 2019 means that we now need to be even tighter with our words. Attention spans are shorter and screens are smaller. The language we use needs to be immediate, strong and clear. There is no room for wasteful words on the homepage or in navigation links.

Photographs and images now need to have more impact. They should use strong colours and instantly tell a story. Compare the images used in 2006 / 2014 with the images used now. They use close-ups and are not afraid of sharing an intimate moment, pain or emotion. They are beautiful and difficult to look at.

Homepages generally use a hero image (or in some cases video) which is shown at full-screen. This image has to work very hard to communicate everything you want in that key real estate location. Do you have images that are strong enough to do that? Take a look at the homepages of Crisis, NCT, Brathay Trust, and Bloodwise for examples. (See also Review and improve your use of images.)

Your digital strategy

You don’t need to be the size of British Red Cross to need a clear plan for how your website and wider digital platforms support the goals of your organisation. Technologies and design standards are changing all the time. Just today, Samaritans launched its new website which has a cool features such as a dynamic homepage which changes depending on the time of day.

A digital strategy can help you to persuade trustees to invest in new technology or staff. You may use it to plan your increasing use of social media, create digital services and have a reference for how you’ll deal with a crisis. Or it may help you plan the next 6-12 months, ensuring you are using your resources in the right way and keeping up with your peers.

Take a look at the Charity Digital Code of Practice which was launched at the end of 2018. It aims to help charities increase their impact, develop skills and improve digital sustainability. Zoe Amar recently shared data from the self-assessment tool to show where charities are at with Code.

Whatever the priorities for your website, it is worth investing your time in producing a digital strategy to support its future evolution.

Useful links

If you need in-person help, there are lots of Digital Strategy courses and freelancers / consultants who can support you.

More on the web at 30

Read more about the web at 30:

Look at other examples of how design has evolved via the web design museum.

Google Doodle for the web at 30

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Be a good Secret Santa

It’s that time of year again. Rather than spending money on plastic tat / novelty socks, why not use some or all of your Secret Santa in a more impactful way? Here are a few examples of charities running Secret Santa sized fundraising campaigns and other ideas for doing good within your budget.

smiling windup snowman toy on a cafe counter surrounded by cakes

Christmas campaigns

Secret Santa gifts

Christmas cheer

Why not pool your funds and do something bigger as a team?

There are countless fundraising appeals, Christmas jumper days and local food bank collections you could instead donate to in the name of your Secret Santa.

Action Man style elf - text says 'This year, leave Relf on the shelf'

Leave Relf on the shelf and give a gift that matters say International Rescue Committee in this fab video.

What are you doing?

  • Do you do Secret Santa in your team? Any tips?
  • Is your charity doing an interesting appeal?

Please share in the comments.

See also: charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples from 2017

Digital round-up – October 2018

Highlights this month: big hashtags, user-generated content, AI, voice tech, digital skills and more….

The nights are setting in and seasonal content is upon us. October is a very busy month of awareness days. There was lots of great content launched. Pop the kettle on and catch up.

close up of 50s metal toy robot

How to use: Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox.

Content

10 October was #WorldMentalHealthDay, #WorldHomelessnessDay and #HousingDay. I have never seen my list of trending topics look like this for an hour, let alone all day. The trending hashtags and topics were consistently related to these issues. Nothing else got a look-in all day.

all 10 trending topics relate to social issues - a rare sight

There was some amazing content including:

Gallery of faces with white writing painted on them sharing insights into their mental health

Also this month:

screenshot of Halloween Twitter Moment

Twitter takeover of the month: CoppaFeel’s Kris Hallenger / @nhs. Kris who has been living with stage 4 breast cancer since 2009, talked about treatments and good health.

Comms

Digital – strategy, design, culture

Fundraising

graphic for Gift Aid awareness day - £560m in gift aid is unclaimed every year

People

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss September’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

Digital round-up – June

June passed by in a blur of great weather, football fever and lots of great charity reads. Get an ice cream / cool drink and settle back to hook some juicy digital catches!

metal fish in a paddling pool, ready to be hooked for fun. Summer picture.

Warning – this is another bumper crop. Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox. Enjoy!

Content

Dogs Trust - cute animation. Starts with a dog shuffling across the screen looking cheeky

Map with hundreds of red dots, each clickable to read the supporter's comment

5s video showing a small wave washing away a person (in lego) talking a photo of the weather.

Screenshot of doggy Twitter Moment

Digital

In case you missed it Brathay Trust: a lesson in crisis comms.

Brathay's instagram - image of a young man in a bright yellow t-shirt completing the run

Teams and ways of working

Mind your language

Suicide has been in the news a lot recently. Here are some guides to writing about it responsibly.

Events

Fundraising

Scope subscription box Mindful Monsters for parents and chidren

More

And finally….

1970's BBC presenter next to a BBC micro computer.

 

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss May’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

 

 

 

Digital round-up – May

In the month that we were all swamped in GDPR emails and RNLI and Dog’s Trust were responding to endless negative comments following misreported press stories, there were lots of great reads. Pull up a comfy chair and catch up with some great charity content and digital reads you might have missed from May 2018.

View through a glass case of butterflies, we see a child with open mouth in amazement. At the Natural History Museum

Warning – you may need longer than a tea break to catch up. Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox. Enjoy!

Digital

Useful resources and reads if you are working on digital projects, thinking about future technologies or just getting on with your everyday digital tasks:

Screenshot from CAST's design principles showing the first 5.

Inspiration from other organisations getting stuck into digital:

New websites / rebanding:

Events:

screenshot of one of the slides from the charity comms seminar.

Content / comms channels

street painting of lots of faces

ICYMI – I updated my 2013 post about trustee / staff pages on charity websites with new best practice and examples. How does your site match up?

Fundraising

Graphic from UK Fundraising - charities have a problem with men

Working with people

Great content

Still from ARUK video showing a hand drawing a healthy brain on the left and one with Alzheimer's on the right.

Plus there was lots of nice content around for the Royal Wedding, such as this knitted couple from Age UK and this blue blood image from NHS Give Blood.

Age UK tweet showing a knitted Harry and Meghan.

This Royal Wedding Moment contains lots of fundraising related fun from large and small charities. Great examples of how to join in with a feel-good event.

Strawberry Social even did a comprehensive thread of an A-Z of Royal Wedding tat which should have got more likes than it did.

See also

Coloured print outs of T&Cs from social media sites. Instagram's is the longest.

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss April’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

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Digital round-up – March

With more wintery weather heading our way, poke your head out from under the duvet for some of the highlights from March 2018. It has been a bumper month (snow, data abuse, more snow, lots of hashtags) so this round-up has lots of gems.

coloured bear heads poking out of a seaside game.

Campaigns

image from Dog's Trust Pawtrait campaign

Comms good practice

infographic of the 500 most popular passwords

Also, catch up with the slides from CharityComms’ content strategy conference and read Eleanor Dean’s blog with her key takeaways – Three thoughts on creating better digital content for your charity.

Social media

Digital evolution

Have you read the Charity Digital Skills Report? How you does your organisation compare? Do you have a digital strategy? Do your trustees ‘get’ digital?

screenshot from the digital skills report

I went to the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards and heard about lots of brilliant Tech for Good projects. Here’s a blog post from Ross McCulloch about some of the winners (4 examples of digital innovation) and a blog post about the Citizen’s Advice case management system which won an award. Is tech for good on your radar? Are you working on projects or know who is in your space?

Tech trends

Charity reads

And finally….

If you are looking for some cheering up, try these:

What else?

What were your good reads in March? Please do share.

If you want more, see also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection?

—–

Did you miss Jan/Feb’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

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Great #IWD2018 content

More than ever today, my timeline is wonderfully filled with messages celebrating brilliant women and highlighting women’s projects and causes.  It is International Women’s Day (#IWD2018) so here’s my pick of the top content around.

Fundraising for women’s charities

Bloody Good Period encouraged us to give a sister a leg-up by donating to their Amazon wishlist.

Still from animation - have a bloody good IWD

Richard Herring did his annual ‘Why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?’ response marathon to raise money for Refuge. At one stage during the day, new donations were being every added every ten seconds. The £50k target was hit around lunchtime, and £100,000 by the early evening. The final total is now almost £150k + Gift Aid!

Tweets between Refuge and Richard Herring announcing fundraising totals

There were lots of fundraising activities on the day. This reproduction of this suffragette poster from 1906 is being sold to support the campaign for a statue of Mary Woolstonecraft.

The Huffington Post ran an article about donating to women’s charities.

Celebrating brilliant women

There are thousands of tweets giving shout-outs to fabulous women. Imandeep Kaur’s thread, showcasing women in her life stood out. Using one tweet per person and a stonking photograph, she explains what the woman has achieved and why they are amazing.

One of the tweets from Imandeep Kaur's thread.

Lots of charities celebrated their women founders and / or the stories of prominent women. For example, see Sue Ryder, The Woodland Trust, Leonard Cheshire, RSPCA, Maggie’s Centres, Battersea Dogs and Cats and British Red Cross.

And there were a number of posts introducing some of the women I admire working in the sector today. See CharityJob’s Sheroes, Kirsty Marrins’ post from last year and Lightful’s 6 phenomenal women leading the way.

Fighting for equality

City, University of London asked why there aren’t more expert women featured on the news with this nifty animation they shared on Twitter sharing research from Professor Lis Howell.

Still from IWD video from City, showing cartoon-drawn images of famous women

The NY Times admitted that its obituaries have been dominated by white men. They have responded with a series called Overlooked.

UNICEF produced this simple animation calling on a world where every woman and girl feels safe.

It’s worth watching the #FreedomForGirls video produced by Global Goals if you haven’t seen it already.

Still from Freedom for girls video - text on wall says 71% of human trafficing victims are female

This interactive timeline of women’s rights and gender equality over the past 100 years from Southbank Centre has been released as part of their WOW festival.

Women’s projects

Great coverage for this Women in Sheds Age UK project in Loughborough.

Still from ITV video of Women in Sheds project

Some charities you wouldn’t particularly expect to have an story for IWD, used the opportunity to share stories about their work. For example Dog’s Trust shared information about their Freedom Project.

Tweet from Dog's Trust thanking foster carers who look after dog's of women fleeing domestic violence

And Crisis shared research about the impact of homelessness on women in a short video.

Inspiring messages

‘Be a role model for the sort of woman you want your children to be’. Wise words in this video from Age UK showing a discussion between Shirley Meredeen and Lynne Ruth Miller.

Still from age uk - 'what I would say to any woman, if you have children, be a role model'

Grow old disgracefully – I love this from the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Campaign to End Loneliness tweet showing 'when I am old woman, I shall wear purple' quote

What did you spot?

This was just a small fraction of all the tweets, videos, campaigns shared for IWD18. What did you see or produce which particularly stood out? Do share your highlights in the comments.

See also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection?