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UW Medicine
Site Audit

The Challenge

How might we make giving easy, compelling, and irresistible for new and current donors? The amount of time people spend on UW Medicine's fundraising site,, is extremely low and the bounce rate is very high. UW Medicine Advancement has opportunities to implement changes that will lead to higher donor engagement and conversion rates. 


Content Audit

Competitive Research and Analysis

Information Architecture Recommendations


Google Lighthouse

Google Analytics

Screaming Frog


Pictured is the current UW Medicine Advancement homepage, I identified several opportunities for improvement through a content audit, research and competitive analysis. As a team we set goals for our donors and our organization that will help guide our design and content decisions going forward.


Below is an outline of my analysis and recommendations for the site redesign, which is currently in process. 

Existing Site Analysis

Site Performance

The amount of time people spend on our site is extremely low (currently 38 seconds) and should be in the 2-3 minute range. The bounce rate is very high 81.79%, nonprofit industry average is 60-70%. Our page load time could help improve some of these numbers as well as creating a more intuitive navigation experience. 

User Analytics (October 2018 – October 2019)

  • 30,761 (78% are new)

  • 60% visit our site on a desktop and 34% on mobile.

  • 17% come from UW internet service provider.

  • Trend younger than our major gift demographic – nearly 50% are between 25-44 years of age.

  • 57% female

  • Seattle area has the highest concentration of users, by a large margin.

Key Findings

More Donors Will Give If We

Clearly communicate our mission, history, and campaign information.

Motivate online visitors to donate with smart design, quality content, and easy-to-use tools.

Create a positive impression for a broad audience and not cater to any particular donor group.


What Donors Need in Order to Make a Gift has several opportunities to improve the giving process. Based on research conducted by other organizations around online giving and engagement the following recommendations apply directly to our donor needs.


Clear explanation of what our organization does

  • Ensure that donors know what our mission is and how we are accomplishing it through philanthropy. Donors want to see their values reflected before they decide to make a donation.

  • According to usability research by NN Group, 53% of abandoned online donations were due to content issues related to writing for the Web, including unclear or missing information and confusing terms.


See/know how donations are being used

  • The second most important detail that users needed to know about an organization before donating was how their contribution would be used.

  • Users who found this information were pleased at the transparency and those who could not find the information were aggravated and thought the organization was inefficient or trying to bury those details.

  • Even if the percentage that went to programs and initiatives was lower than users had hoped, they were still pleased to see the information and felt confident that the organization was not hiding anything from them.


Provide a noticeable and clear link to donate

  • Provide a clear donation button from anywhere on the site and make sure the UX writing is clear – For instance Donate and Donate Now are both widely understood.

  • Peer to Peer (P2P) is a significant source of online fundraising - in the Health sector this accounted for $80 of $100 raised online. UWM would benefit from making P2P resources easy to find and use.

  • According to M+R’s benchmark study, revenue from one-time gifts increased by 1%, while monthly giving revenue increased by 17%. Monthly giving should be encouraged and easy to achieve.


Streamline the donation process

  • According to usability research by NN Group, 47% of abandoned online donations are due to usability problems relating to page and site design, including unintuitive information architecture, cluttered pages, and confusing workflow.

  • Make the donation process closer to that of an e-commerce experience.

  • Narrow the options for funds or allow for filtering or a facetted list – the current list of funds is likely overwhelming for donors. The structure of a redesigned experience should be tested on users to ensure we are solving the problem.


The giving flow on this site is dictated by the University of Washington and we do not have control over the design of this module. It is extremely problematic and is likely a huge barrier to making a gift. 


Endorsements from peers and/or third parties

  • While UW Medicine may not need to be concerned about brand reputation, there are opportunities to highlight testimonials from existing donors and grateful patients.

  • Content that encourages a feeling of trust and conveys our credibility will help new donors make decisions about giving.

According to usability research by NN Group,
47% of abandoned online donations are due to usability problems
relating to page and site design, including unintuitive information architecture, cluttered pages, and confusing workflow.

Content Strategy

Team Alignment

Donor Experience Goals

I brought several key members of our fundraising team together to determine overarching goals. These will guide our content and design decisions for the new site.


Our top three points of focus for our donors will be:

  • Creating a connection – the donors should see themselves and their values; the impact of their giving; feel inspired and moved to give.

  • Brand/Mission awareness – know what our mission is and that it aligns with what they care about; show what differentiates us; show them why they should give.

  • Ease of Use/findability – searchable; navigable; simplify their journey to find what they need; make giving easy.

Our top three points of focus for our organization will be:

  • Show impact – show giving in action; tell donors what their philanthropy has accomplished; make sure donors feel appreciated and recognized.

  • Encourage/inspire giving – make online giving easier; inspire impulse giving; encourage monthly giving; make P2P fundraising easy.

  • Tell people where to give – increase awareness around our work (specific disease areas); leverage featured content to drive donations; provide resources for where to learn more.

Snap Judgement 

I also facilitated a discussion with the same group about what we want our donors to think and feel when they come to our site 

Top things we want our donors to feel within a few minutes of visiting our site:

  • heart beats a little faster

  • that they belong

  • that their support is important and needed 

  • confidence in UW Medicine and our mission

What we want our donors to know within a few minutes of visiting our site:

  • that we're leading progress toward fixing things they care about

  • that we exist to raise money and a sense of how their money would be used

  • that their support makes a positive impact

  • understand they can make a gift

  • know where they are on our site and be able to navigate easily

UWM Header.jpg

Based on the research, several areas of the site could use reworking.

One example is the existing header: 

  • Make the call to action (Donate) more prominent. 

  • Let users know where they are on the site by underlining the current page title. 

  • UX writing - use language that makes sense. For example, "Priorities" might not be the most intuitive label. 

Information Architecture

Help Donors Find What They Need

Through a content audit and site inventory of, here are several recommendations for improving the functionality and structure of the site:


There are some basic navigation elements that are missing from the current site or could use improvement.

Global Navigation

  • Visual indicators will help users know where they are on the site. This could be achieved through bolded or underlined text in the navigation menu and/or breadcrumbs.

  • The URLs don’t necessarily match the actual location of where a user is on the site – this can lead to confusion.


Additional navigation observations

  • The cards on the priorities page reorder as you navigate away from the page and return to it. If a user wants to click on each card to see what content lies within it, they cannot easily track which ones they have clicked on.

  • I highly recommend frequently testing the redesigned site organization with users to maximize findability.

  • Having a separate site for the magazine content makes for a disjointed experience. I would recommend moving all editorial content to one place.


Site Map

The site structure should address our donor experience goals as well as the research recommendations. Showing impact, illustrating our mission and making it easy to donate are three of the most important goals. The proposed site map reflects the top goals in the hierarchy of the information presented on the site:


proposed site map

Interaction Design

Make Our Site Easy to Use

  • The "Next" interaction on the hero image at the top of the homepage is not a common or familiar action. I would recommend including an arrow or carousel dots to indicate that it is a carousel.

  • The size of the hero image throughout the site is too large and on certain devices it takes up the entire screen. The design of the site should guide the user through the page(s) and the size of the hero image is prohibitive. I recommend reducing the image size and/or including some text or arrows that indicate the action we want someone to take - should they click or scroll to get to their destination? Making navigation visually clear and obvious will increase usability.

  • Studies done by Dunham+Company in both 2013 and 2018 reveal that 65% of charities still do not pre-select a mid-range gift on their donation forms even though the data shows this approach performs better. We do not do this at UW – a fundamental flaw in the giving module.

  • The design of the giving module needs an overhaul. It should reflect an e-commerce experience as closely as possible in order to feel familiar to users resulting in less friction. (As mentioned above, this flow is determined by UW and not part of this redesign but any barriers in the donation flow on the site should be removed.)

SEO and Performance

Increase Accessibility and Performance

Summary of current site performance (October 2018 – October 2019)

  • Sessions: 50,232

  • Page Views: 71,641

  • Pages Per Session: 1.43 (industry average is 3 pages)

  • Bounce Rate: 81.79% (non-profit industry average 60% – 70%)

  • Average Session Duration: 38 seconds

  • Average Time on Page: 00:01:29

  • Average Page Load Time (sec): 2.91

On the whole, engagement is low:

  • 86% of sessions are only 10 seconds or less

  • 82% of sessions are only one page deep

  • Referral links to 404 pages should be identified and fixed

Recommendations for homepage (mobile and desktop):


  • Mobile: use next gen image formats for faster loading time and less data consumption

  • Mobile: consider a plugin for image optimization

  • Desktop: Upload images directly through the media library to ensure that the required image sizes are available, and then insert them from the media library or use the image widget to ensure the optimal image sizes are used (including those for the responsive breakpoints). Avoid using `Full Size` images unless the dimensions are adequate for their usage.

  • Mobile & Desktop: Consider reducing, or switching, the number of WordPress plugins loading unused CSS. A plugin should only enqueue a stylesheet if it is actually used on the page.


  • Mobile & Desktop: Metadata – need more meta descriptions. The <meta name=description> element provides a summary of a page's content that search engines include in search results. A high-quality, unique meta description makes your page appear more relevant and can increase your search traffic. Implement a standard process for tagging, labeling and creating content.

  • Mobile: Interactive elements like buttons and links should be large enough (48x48px), and have enough space around them, to be easy enough to tap without overlapping onto other elements. Currently 38x14 on our homepage.


  • Mobile & Desktop: Not enough contrast of background and foreground (should meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards and above).

  • Mobile & Desktop: Link text (and alternate text for images, when used as links) that is discernible, unique, and focusable improves the navigation experience for screen reader users.

  • Manual tests should also be performed with screen readers and/or something like


We have opportunities to provide our audience with inclusive content that is relevant to all audiences, utilize intuitive design to reduce friction when making a gift, and create engaging storytelling to illustrate the impact of philanthropy. All of which will lead to higher donor engagement and conversion rates. Beyond the recommendations for improved site design, we have opportunities to drive more donors to our site and create more targeted communications – these are being addressed in tandem with through our donor audience and engagement group work.

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