Alex McGibbon07/08/19

3 min read

Charities: why user personas hold the key to a successful website

According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report, 54% of donors prefer to donate online. Although 72% of NGOs already accept online donations via their website, it is more important than ever the challenges the Digital Age brings are considered. 

We specialise in the cause industry and are increasingly being asked to optimise websites for each and every individual. With many of our clients tackling sensitive subjects, it is critical that their website content is targeted to the right people in the right way. 

Building a detailed picture of your audience is a vital stage when planning to redesign your charity's website or launching a campaign via your website. Understanding what you want to achieve from your digital communications and why individuals visit your website means messages can be tailored to resonate with potential donors, volunteers and people seeking advice and support. 

So, how do you identify your personas? 

Website data: it’s at your fingertips

Your website data and intelligence is a great place to start. Keyword performance can provide valuable insight into the different demographics accessing your website and their intent. For example, if a large number of users’ search 'brain tumour symptoms', it supports the notion that those concerned about a tumour, seek a reputable website for advice. Put yourself in your persona’s shoes – if this is a parent with a child that is unwell, they are worried about their child’s welfare and need support and empathy. The language, tone and functionality of advice pages will differ significantly from the fundraising events and donations pages. 

Social media: do some digging 

Social media provides an open door to demographic details – use it! User's freely share their age, gender, occupation and social activities on a daily basis. Engaging with your social community by asking for feedback and marketing donations and fundraising activities, you can quickly develop a transparent view of your organisation's personas. 

Ask the audience

Often the answer is right in front of you. Engaging with your audience can be extremely valuable. It gives you the answers you need first hand and can also be a great way to build rapport and encourage brand advocates. A short, interactive survey can build accurate personas and behaviours in an instant with little need for data analysis. Do not be afraid to engage with your community – often you’ll be surprised with the response! 

Accurately understanding your personas can have a direct impact on your charity's reputation and donations. Personas should underpin your entire user experience and guide users quickly and efficiently to the information they require. 

These are just some of the ways in which you can learn more about your audience and should be combined with channel planning and interviews with your organisation’s stakeholders. It is important to remember that personas represent a hypothetical character as opposed to a single person. You should review your personas on a regular basis to ensure they are up-to-date and resonate with your audience.   

Our discovery phase is a crucial element in our entire process and helps us provide you with a digital experience that directly impacts your end users and achieves your objectives. If you’d like to find out more, contact us today. 

About the author

Alex McGibbon

Solutions Architect at Giant Digital


Alex is Product and Innovation lead at Giant Digital. Having spent many years designing charity websites, Alex is a real advocate for user-led design in the creation of websites, donation platforms and bespoke applications. He leads the UX/UI research and development, ensuring that charities balance their own organisational needs with those of their target audience, to maximise engagement and deliver results.

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