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Charity websites are self-centred and confusing

In the past seven days, I have written two stories reporting that charity websites have been criticised as inaccessible and frustrating to use.

The first was on a report by the agency Bluefrog claimed more than half of the UK’s 100 largest charities used hard-to-read design styles on the legacy giving sections of their sites.

In the second, digital media consultant Nick Burne said 60 per cent of visits to charity websites resulted in users failing to find what they were looking for.

To be fair, these problems aren’t unique to the sector: during his presentation at the Institute of Fundraising’s national convention last week, Burne recalled visiting the Ikea website and being frustrated that its ‘shop online’ feature did not extend to delivering furniture to his home.

The problem for many charities is that they are unsure whether their websites are for their donors, their beneficiaries or both. They often try to balance the two, awkwardly adding a ‘donate now’ button alongside information for service users.

On top of this, they build myriad microsites for campaigns that often mean little to users and add to their confusion.

And fundamentally, their websites are often self-centred. Too many charities’ home pages have links to pages on ‘who we are’, ‘what we do’ and ‘how you can help us’ rather than asking users ‘who are you?’ then directing them to services that might be of use.

If ill-designed websites thwart 60 per cent of visits, they must cost the sector a fortune. Now is not the easiest time for charity’s communications team to be asking the chief exec for more money, but if they don’t do something soon, they will pay in the long term.