How Building, Measuring and Learning Improved Donations to The Peace Corps

August 1, 2008 posted in Design

Don’t invest your resources in unproven ideas. Prototype the idea first, make it live, and make adjustments as necessary based on user feedback. This idea was reinforced on a recent project that I directed. The scope of the project was to redesign an online donation application with a goal of increasing donations. The redesigned page was originally a list of 50 funds available to donors. The initial enhancement made the list searchable by keyword, location, sponsor, and type of fund. For the most part it was a quick solution that would have marked results.

prototype example

Shortly before the enhancement launched, additional features were requested by the project’s stakeholders. They suggested that the search form was not “visual” or “emotionally compelling” enough to increase donations. Their desired solution was the typical request for something interactive, engaging, and of course included Flash. Such a request would require resources beyond the scope of the project, so instead I suggested using an image map as a quick and easy prototype to roughly accomplished the desired effect.

prototype example

The project was launched with both the form and map interface. After the redesigned page spent a few months in the wild I installed Crazy Egg, which provided a visual representation of the page’s click density. Crazy Egg allowed me to observe how each interface was performing in real-time.

prototype example

Outcome

I can’t say I expected to see such a drastic difference, but users overwhelmingly preferred the form over the map. The feedback will now inform how I tweak the both the map and the form. If I don’t eliminate the map entirely, I’ll definitely modify the instructions; both “roll over” and “Partnership Projects” are not user-friendly terms. I’m very happy with the form, but will likely reorder the fields based on their utilization.

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