Test online donation forms to maximize usability

Nonprofits should create the easiest path possible for potential donors so technical issues don't get in the way.

The last thing a nonprofit wants is to convince prospective givers that their cause is worth donating to and then turn them away with a lack of background information, a hard-to-understand donation process or directions that don't match up to the steps users have to take. A study from the Neilsen Norman Group showed that donating money to charity through a website is 7 percent more difficult than making a consumer purchase.

Usability testing doesn't have to break the bank or take up too much time, according to industry source npENGAGE. It can be as simple as asking friends, family and staff who don't often deal with the donations section of your nonprofit's website. The key is to find what parts of the site are confusing, off-putting or broken.

Once you have a small group of volunteers, provide them with some basic activities to perform - they should only take about 20 minutes total - and pay attention as they go through the steps. It may be easier to set these tests up throughout a day at the office or over the course of a few days, allowing you to closely follow their efforts, have a post-test discussion and figure out what parts of your online presence need the most improvement.

The most important thing for nonprofits to improve is how they present information, according to the Nielsen Norman Group study. That includes general information about your organization, its history, achievements and goals as well as presenting instructions for your online donation form and a clear path for potential donors to follow. A simple usability study will help your nonprofit begin the process of increasing the effectiveness and productivity of your website.

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