How to Implement Mobile Web Design for Charities
Most readers will be fed up with statements like “mobile web usage has quadrupled over the last [insert period]” by now, but the reality is that more and more users prefer to browse the net on the move, via a smartphone or tablet. Strangely, quite a few industries are still appearing to be behind the times and not taking full advantage of the changes. A bad example of this (infamous) group is charities, which more often than not are late in adopting new practices. However, by embracing web design they can optimize their operations1.
People are more likely to encounter a charity or non-governmental organization on the street than at home and consequently look it up on the internet. To ensure that the user is left with a professional impression of the charity, its website must load fast, be easy to navigate and “feed” the visitor information as required. This technique of designing is quite similar to the dawn of the internet when connection speeds were too slow for more sophisticated Flash animations and dynamic content. (It could even pay off to dig out your old web design textbooks to refresh your memory). In addition to content simplification, the professional look and seamless browsing experience can be facilitated by Responsive design2 (our own article explains in more depth). This could be made easier by limiting the use of images.
As mobile and desktop sites satisfy two completely different purposes and are used in different contexts, you should not model a mobile webpage after a desktop one. Users who are in a hurry will want to access a short summary of the objectives and accomplishments of the organization so far as well as the current campaigns and news. Upcoming and regional events will be of interest as on-the-go visitors can book while traveling or decide to drop in spontaneously.
Your mobile platform should fully integrate social media and social sharing as these can be vital for an event turnout. For example, a socially active user could tweet about the noble and fantastic fundraising event currently being held and attract a few acquaintances, if the GPS location, address and instructions are easily sharable.
Naturally, the reach of a charity determines its success and social impact so the web page should also serve this purpose. Position a subscribe function prominently on every page, so long as it does not worsen the overall page look and feel. Additionally, adding text alert and calling options can increase the “quality of your subscription lists” – people are more likely to ignore an e-mail than a text message.
Having a Donate Now button on the webpage is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the feel good factor of your audience. They are more likely to donate at the event than after returning home, and a mobile donating function gives them access to wider financial resources. Currently PayPal and Google Checkout are the only reliable providers of this service although this likely to change in the coming years as more and more organizations embrace mobile payments.
The website can be a painless alternative to written petitions as it can enable many more people to sign up without having to wait in a queue. This will help organizations take action much quicker as they can easily show the support of the wider community. As a result, there is less documentation to be kept and the process is more environmentally friendly.
The charity website should be a natural extension of the current practice of the charity, and promotional items3, such as these from one of our local firms, should also support the website. The link must be featured offline on items like T-shirts, flyers, key chains, and flash drives, so that interested parties can easily access it.