Ten years is a long time in the world of web design. Trends and technologies move fast, and charities often struggle to keep up. When redesign time comes around it can feel like you’re painting the Forth bridge.
Sometimes it’s good to stop and look back at how far you’ve come. With the help of the dangerously absorbing Wayback Machine I paid a visit to some of the charities and campaigning organisations with the strongest digital presence in 2015 to see how they were faring in 2005.
If you’re responsible for a charity website which isn’t looking as good as you’d like, take heart. We’ve all come a long way…
The prominent email list sign up box and simple main navigation show that Oxfam GB were ahead of the curve. But the three image boxes are battling for your attention before you even reach the forest of text links below.
Today Oxfam GB’s site is clean, clear and bright with a minimal main menu and a single call to action front and centre. The different colour on the ‘Donate’ tab in the menu works as a subtle but effective visual cue.
Amnesty International UK
Amnesty’s website in 2005 is almost unrecognisable. There is no strong visual impact and several different calls to action compete for attention.
Here’s Amnesty International UK‘s homepage today. It has a striking colour scheme and an unmissable call to action, directing visitors to the priority campaign rather than overwhelming them with options.
Cancer Research UK
Ten years on Cancer Research UK‘s homepage feels cold and rather clinical, with a raft of text links and not much else to encourage you to stick around.
Today Cancer Research UK’s homepage is bright and engaging, featuring an array of bite-sized facts and multimedia. Every block is a link, encouraging visitors to explore, with a large clickable area which is handy for mobile users.
Goodness me. It’s a Flash animation.
The homepage is cute and playful, but it doesn’t guide visitors to priority content. It’s not clear where to click, or what to expect when you do. And, given the organisation, this page really misses a trick by not using any photographs.
That’s better! Cats Protection‘s current homepage is still cute and playful, but it’s also clear, accessible and easy to navigate. There is an animation for visitors to interact with, but now it’s at the bottom of the page where it won’t interrupt information seekers.
Not a charity website, but I thought you might like to see how much Google’s homepage has changed in the last ten years!
Hundreds of column inches have been devoted to Google’s “iconic” homepage design, but it came about largely by accident.
The reason it has hardly changed in ten years is because it does the job. Visitors come to Google’s homepage for one thing only. Why distract them or throw obstacles in their path? The page is the world’s best known example of user experience design.
But for those of us who aren’t Google, is there any way out of the website redesign cycle? Perhaps.
Content publishers are beginning to explore evolutionary site redesign as a way to keep up with ever-changing habits in content consumption and advertising. Rather than a complete overhaul every three years, the idea is to make regular, incremental changes based on a process of continual testing and improvement.
A flexible, modular content management system makes this approach more achievable, as does an in-house web developer, those unicorns of the third sector.
Think evolutionary site redesign could work for you? This article might be worth a read.
One of the reasons I wrote this post is that 2015 marks ten years that I’ve been working with nonprofit websites. If you’d like some advice on developing your website or other digital communications, just drop me a line.