Whats Wrong with our Website?

So about six weeks ago, my little charity was lucky enough to establish a relationship with a relitively popular website which generously agreed to give us frontpage placement on their site. Since getting our banner on a high-traffic website, we’ve been getting tons of hits. Whats been very surprising though, is that all this web-traffic hasn’t been translating into increased donations. :frowning: Despite the massive traffic spike, we’re seeing less than 5 % of visitors actually make a donation.

What are we doing wrong? Our website is here

I’d really appreciate absolutely any thoughts that come to mind as to whats good or bad about our website in general, our ‘brand’, our pitch, or any other facet that you think might be holding is back.

Couple of quick thoughts:
Regarding design, I think the red background is too jarring - a green or some other earth tone would be better, especially considering the background photo.

Regarding content, I think this current page should be put in the “about” section. Your mission statement is a bit too wordy, and I would be more upfront about what you actually do. For instance, “Our goal is to work towards making cycling safer by sponsoring and supporting initiatives that will make cycling a safe and healthy alternative in urban environments.”

BTW, in these economic times, a 5% donation rate is nothing to sneeze at. Not bad at all!

Best wishes for your success!

I agree with the black and red. I would suggest a lighter tones of red, or changing the foreground. I am not a designer though, but the color needs changing.

There is also the logo. It just looks out of place. I believe you can find a digital illustrator to draw the logo for somewhat about USD 50 (or even cheaper if you out-source). If you want to, I can help you find someone, just PM me.

Second page, about charles, the padding between the photo and the text is too close. A couple of css tweaks should fix that (a few padding/marign rules for images).

Links should be of different colour. The underline is not good enough an emphasis by itself.

The unordered list in the donate.html file is weridly aligned. Some CSS would help with it though.

The pages change size and the navigation bar jumps to different spot depending on the page length. Much better it is to fix everything at the top and just let it flows down naturally to avoid the jarring jump (there’s a jump at donate.html between home.html and index.html)

Try to keep each page of the same minimum height (the red background) per page.

I am not sure if it is on purpose but you wrote chrles instead of Charles in the about title.

Super bad for me is Red background with black text. My old eyes can’t read it. You can stick with the red if you change it to white text, though getting rid of the red would be better. A medium to light yellow background is easier to read with a black text if you don’t want white.

I’m not going to go into detail on the design, which I think is fine (though the background color is hideous and makes further reading painful - and your navigation tabs seem to move around as you go through the site), but just address the “why so few donations?”

In my professional opinion (13 years of online marketing), the biggest problem is that the “Donate now” call to action is not obvious.

You might think it’s obvious, since it’s there, and has an arrow, but it isn’t (I can give you further reading if you want to know why - or just google “eyetracking”).

In fact your call to action is just another navigation tab, that will be ignored, but if it isn’t, it then demands that the visitor reads a bunch more wordz.

Most web users, when they’re in “curiosity mode” are the least patient and attentive people on the planet.

Bear this in mind and ask yourself “what is the single thing that I could do to the front page to get an ADD sufferer on meth to donate money?”

My answer would be a humungous “donate” button in the middle of the front page, that goes straight to your secure server. Sure, keep the tab, and maybe put a “further reading” link under that button, but put a honking great button there, meaning there’s only one click between a visitor and the action on the beanstream server.

I’m not a marketing guy at all, but I agree with what jjimm says.

Web sites are about content, and arranging that content to support the main function of the website. You have ten seconds to deliver your message to the casual browser: This is what we want you do do and here’s why.

In your case you want to get people to donate. Arrange your content to support that goal.

I’d put the picture of Charlie on the main page, enlarged and emphasised, and not have the irritatingly obscured background image of a cycle path on a dull grey day.

And that is an unfortunately ugly logo, that I would reduce in size to de-emphasise that aspect of it.

I also agree that the red is too much, and a soothing green would suit it better.

Probably a minor thing compared to the comments from experienced web marketers above, but I was slightly confused by the navigation. The Home tab goes to an index page, except the “Charlie’s Freewheels” page is called home, and the Home tab there stays on that page. I couldn’t quite work out which was the main page of the site.

Here is a good round up of non-profit sites that echos some of what was posted earlier:

Yup – that was the first thing that jumped out at me. It maybe be unfair, but it made me think – if you can’t handle getting your own name right, how can I trust you to handle my money properly?

Second – I don’t know how common it is in the charity world in Canada, but I was struck by the statement that you can’t give tax receipts for donations. Why is this? Again, this may be unfair of me, but I am very skeptical of charities on the internet (anyone can put up a pretty website), and obviously tax-exempt status is no guarantee of legitimacy, but it does make me curious. Also makes me curious about your long term planning and budgeting. Again, I fully admit this is just an impulsive impression.

Third – your link to your partner organization is bad. See first and second comments for the implications of this in my mind, fair or unfair.

Otherwise, I like your website in a lot of ways. I like that you will accept donations of parts and supplies, and I like the simple design. I even like your logo – I like that it looks homemade and it corresponds with your cause, the self-made bike and empowerment. :slight_smile:

The background not moving when you scroll down just screams “1998” to me.

I wanted to address this particular comment quickly as I think its important to clarify. In Canada, there is a somewhat lengthy process involved in obtaining the ability to issue tax receipts. Basically the application takes 9-12 months to process. The app. itself is quite complex, but can still be understood if read carefully, however, its sufficiently complex that there are plenty of opportunities to fill in the wrong clause or weird legal technicality and then theoretically get the approval delayed for a long time.

Such being the case, we were told by a lot of people that the best way to get approval is to use a lawyer for the application, which is fine, except we were typically quoted $3000-$5000. Thats a significant chunk of money for us and so we put off going through the process. We’re working on establishing a ‘fiscal agency’ relationship with a larger charity which would enable us to issue receipts through them until we get our own license.

We are a provincially registered non-profit corporation, we just can’t afford to get charity status yet, though this obviously very important to move on asap.

Question: Is the banner graphic that sits on the “relatively popular website (RPW)” hosted on your servers? If the image is on your servers, anytime anyone visits the RPW it will show up as a hit in your stats, even though they never actually visit your website at all.

Yep - I think a big honking “donate now” shield in the top right corner of each page would be great

I would also like to see a “results” page / section (as in what programmes you have run, is not clear to me from my 10 seconds I spent there.

I think a bigger photo blog may be better with clearer pictures

And sorry - but I still don’t get quite what it is that you do - build leadership by building bikes? I am kinda wondering what takes 7 weeks to build a bike? (but this could be my own ignorance - typically I want a bike I go down to the shop and buy one)

Swallowed My Cellphone: I don’t use the (local) server-generated ‘hit’ data you’re referring to, I have a special invisible .gif on the main page connected to statcounter.com so I’m pretty sure the traffic monitoring is accurate.

bengangmo: Our mandate is quite broad, but the FreeWheels project we’re currently running takes a group of 11 at-risk economically underprivileged young people (ages 15-17) and teaches them how to assemble and repair each major bike-part over the course of approximately 40 hours of instruction. At the end of the program, each participant gets to keep the bike they put together.

We’re carefully looking at expanding into a permanent social enterprise whereby participants from the programs will be helping to run a non-for-profit bike-shop. In this scenario, kids would get bike skills, business skills and a constructive outlet to spend time.

I would assume it’s a course on bicycle mechanics. So maybe a two hour class, one night a week for seven weeks or something. It’s not at all unusual in any case for an in-depth course on bike mechanics. Here’s a curriculum for comparisson.

THIS is what should be on your website. It’s far easier to understand than is there currently.

ETA: And Statcounter is pretty accurate as far as tracking goes.

Several have commented on the color scheme. I will throw in my 2 cents worth on the content.

Generally, shorter is better, especially online.

Make sure all pages support your Mission Statement in some way. I will have to admit I am getting a mixed message between the safety issues, Charlie’s love for cities, and sustainable/environmentally-friendly transportation. I’m not really sure what your main goal is.

On your main page, you state, “The CPI aims to support creative and environmentally sustainable initiatives that we think Charlie would have been proud of to create positive change in the Toronto community.” I would make the statement active by dropping the “aims to” because it makes you seem uncertain of your future. Take the position that you are doing what Charlie wanted: The CPI supports creative and environmentally sustainable initiatives to create positive change in the urban landscape."

At first glance, I thought the logo was done by a young child, perhaps Charlie himself. I then had a cognitive dissonance reaction (… The logo must be one of Charlie’s drawings … Charlie biked from San Diego to Toronto? … How old was this kid? … Oh, he was an adult.) In other words, the logo may actually be taking away from your message.

The top menu navigation is weird. Why is there a difference between Home and Back to CPI?

Some of the information is outdated. (The FreeWheels page needs to be re-written in the past tense, since it has all happened.)

Don’t make the visitors look for the Donate button … put it on every page. Try to establish a “touch” between the text on the page, the visitor’s heart, and the Donate button. Examples:

On the main page, try something like, “Join us in making cycling safer … Donate Now”.

On the About Charlie page, try something like, “Keep Charlie’s passion for sustainable transportation alive … Donate Now”.

On the Charlie’s FreeWheels page, try something like, “Help us sponsor tomorrow’s leaders in the cycling community … Donate Now”.

Again, the heartstring tagline needs to somehow refer to or support your Mission Statement, so that needs to be decided first.

Then I think you need a section on “success stories” - kids that have been through the programmes and the outcomes they have achieved. Probably 200 - 300 word personal biopics? Maybe some photos of the “graduates” proudly doing something on the bikes?