UX means “user experience” and refers to designing and creating products with the user in mind. With nonprofits, this can refer to how a user experiences your organisation via your website.
For example, let’s imagine that someone hears about your organisation through a social media post, and they decide to visit your website to find out more about you. What would their experience be? Does your website grab their attention, draw them into your cause, teach them more about what you do, and encourage them to support your cause? Or would they be confused by dense, wordy text, content that has not been updated in years, and struggle to find even basic information like what you do and where you work?
Too many nonprofits focus on what they want to say, but not how they are communicating this information on the web. Online communication is more than writing – the style and design of the page is absolutely critical to how, and if, the message is received. A wall of text is likely to be skimmed over a few seconds, while text that is broken up into sections, with bullet points and important points highlighted, is much more likely to be read in it’s entirety. [Read more about Writing for the Web]
On a practical level, UX design means instead of focussing primarily on what you want to share on your website, think about why someone would come to your website and what they could be looking for. Is this information readily available, easy to find, and accurate? Does your website load fast, and look good on a mobile device? The large slideshow of high res images of the top of your home page might look beautiful, but is it serving any purpose or just slowing down loading your website?
Your website is more than a collection of documents about your organisation. It is a space for people to interact with your work, learn more about your mission, and become supporters and advocates for your cause. Remember that a user is already ‘experiencing’ your organisation when they interact with you, both on- and offline. Think about what experience you want them to have.
Ruen is the founder and director of Hashtag Nonprofit. She has over 20 years of experience in consulting and managing online communications and technology for the development sector. She produced a series of e-books on communications strategies for nonprofits, and has worked with clients across Africa and in the United States