For World Usability Day, Bunnyfoot have been working with sustainable charities across the country to perform free expert evaluations of their websites. The charity sector is a sector where budgets are typically tight (if non-existent) yet there is great expectation on web managers to increase donations and maximise the performance of their sites.
We’ve spent the last month working with a number of charities (gratis) to help guide improvements on their sites and we’d like to share a quick process for generating ideas for your website quickly and cheaply.
Time required: 20-30 mins
What you get: Ideas for prioritizing content and page layout to maximize engagement with customers.
To provide an example we’ve used www.bunnyfoot.com to show how you can use this activity to enhance the design of your site. Remember, this is a top exercise if you have NO research budget and aren’t exactly sure how to start prioritizing content for your customer groups. This exercise is relevant for any type of site, and we find it a great starting point when thinking about initial designs and improvements.
This is a kick starter activity; it’s not a complete high performance engine and shouldn’t be used as one. This is no substitute for engaging with your customers, but rather a great starting point in helping you to create customer journeys and prioritise your site content. Use this activity as a means for generating some good ideas quickly.
1. Think about the content your customers need
Your customers are getting to your site, somehow. Step 1 is to think about who they are (in the case of Bunnyfoot these could be a prospective customer, an existing customer, a competitor, a job seeker, a journalist and so on). List all the potential customers and then next to each customer type ask yourself, “What are they looking for?” (to continue our example with Bunnyfoot, information needs of our customer groups could be Case studies, Contact details, Company History, Services, etc).
2. Sketch the layout according to content priority
Once you have identified the needs of each audience group, you can start to count the number of instances where customers are looking for the same content (e.g. a prospective customer, existing customer, competitor and job seeker could all be looking for more information about services; this would result in 4 counts). Once you have counted up the instances of cross over, a pattern for content priority will emerge. Once you have the counted priority, pick up a pen and paper and start to sketch out your content according to priority. ANYONE can do this, you don’t need to be a designer, and your sketches certainly don’t have to be pretty. The purpose is to think about how you’re going to give your customers the information they need.
Sidenote: We often undertake usability testing of hand-drawn screens; it’s a low cost and effective technique we use with our clients. With a limited budget, there’s nothing to stop you taking these initial designs to representative customer groups and getting some feedback.
3. Try some detailed pages using the same method
After you’ve finished with the homepage, go on to explore other key pages. We’ve shown an example of what our new case study page could look like. To create this we thought of what the story of a case study was and what are the most interesting aspects people need to find out about. For our site ROI was top priority followed by a summary of the brief the services used, the team involved, the process/services used, example output and a client quote. It’s natural for other ideas to be generated at this point, for example we’d like to add the feature for people to comment on our case studies and the approach taken on the original brief.
Going through the exercise helps with the content and layout, and will also aid insight into navigation and user journeys to tie different content together. After 20 mins we have a good idea about the customer groups and their information needs, and we have some initial sketches to take to our customer groups. Ultimately, many of these sketches will be thrown out – we don’t expect our new site to end up looking like it’s been drawn on a flip chart. However, many of the ideas generated during the process will be included in the end design for some low budget but effective quick-wins.