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The Tech for Social Change Baltimore Meetup Message Board Meeting Logistics, Details, and Notes › 2013 May - Scott Paley - Website Redesigns

2013 May - Scott Paley - Website Redesigns

Kate B.
Baltimore, MD
Post #: 36
This month Scott Paley, founder and CEO of Abstract Edge, shared some tips to help organizations make their websites perform better.

Most importantly: Your website is a process not a project.

The first goal you should have for your website is for it to be authoritative, then you can worry about fundraising, advocacy, and engagement. If your website is authoritative, people will trust you, sometimes unquestioningly. For example, people have given their ATM deposits to "security guards" who were sitting next to machines with Out of Order signs.

  • Use Psychology
    Design can be more important than content. If your site is poorly designed, people won't trust the information on the site no matter how amazing the content is. Once the site is trusted, "content is king."

  • More Is Less
    You can't put everything on your website. You need to prioritize. If you give people too many choices, they'll be attracted to your site, but they are unlikely to act. It's the paradox of choice. Concentrate on key actions. What do you really want people to do?

  • Don't Make 'Em Think
    People don't want to make hard decisions or take big steps. You need to watch out for this. Make your donation forms simple and don't collect any data that you aren't going to use. But you can also take advantage of this. On forms, set up defaults for them to use, including for donation amounts. Scott recommended having three default donation numbers. People will often pick the middle one, so make it your minimum average donation plus a little.

    Not wanting to make decisions also applies to email subjects and blog titles. Scott discussed an example from one of his clients. She sent the same email with two different subjects. The first, "I hate my job." had a 40% higher open rate and a 42% higher click through rate than the second "Do you hate your job?" This is because people had to think to answer the question posed in the second.

  • To Win Big, Win Small
    Start with a small ask and then ask for something bigger. The small ask could be to like your organization on Facebook or sign up for your newsletter. After people have agreed to something small, it's easier for them to commit to more.

    Don't discount people who use social media. People who participate on social media channels are five times more likely to recruit others to help, three times more likely to ask others to donate, and are no less likely to donate themselves.

  • Assume They Don't Care
    To get people to act, you need to connect with what they already care about, and at our core, we care about only ourselves consistently. The best way to connect is through storytelling. Appeal to people's emotions first and then use facts second. Your story should focus on one person's personal story.

    No one donates because you've helped 1000 people. They'll donate because you've tapped into something they care about.

  • It's Not About You
    Don't focus on your organization. Think about how you can benefit your website's users.

    Scott told the story of Dan Ariely and his research into whether it is preferable to minimize pain when removing bandages even if it draws the process out. When he talked to nurses about how procedures should change because of his findings, few nurses changed their behavior even though patients would have experienced significantly less pain. He had to reframe the argument to highlight how the nurses would also benefit from changing their behavior.

  • Be in the "Hope" Biz
    Take two campaigns. The first asks people to help them reach a goal of $300 starting from $0. The second has a goal of $3000 but starts from $2700. For every person that donated in the first campaign, six people donated to the second because it seemed easier to help them reach their goal.

A few resources that were mentioned

You can also check out Kelly McKew's post on Scott's presentation.
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