Testing Your Donation Form Part 1: Why do it? | npENGAGE

Testing Your Donation Form Part 1: Why do it?

By on Jul 31, 2013


Donation form Tips for Nonprofits

Note: This is the first in a series of posts about usability testing your Bio_Grangerwebsite from guest author Brandon Granger, Senior Interaction Designer for Blackbaud. Brandon has crafted user experiences and conducted user research in the nonprofit space for 12+ years.


Fixing usability problems on your donation form can be like giving your organization free money. Why?  Because user experience issues invariably impact conversion rates.  If you aren’t regularly testing your donation and registration forms with real users, you’re likely losing donations and registrations unnecessarily and continually.

But I’m not trying to be a Henny Penny, because today usability testing can be easily done by anyone.  The days of usability testing with labs, one-way mirrors, and high costs are long past. The purpose of this blog series is to help give you a simple game plan and best practices for doing usability testing on your own website.

What exactly is usability testing?

The term “usability testing” may sound complicated and esoteric but the purpose is to objectively measure if your website is useful and easy to use for your donors. Usability testing is about making design decisions based on real data and not just by subjective opinion.
Best of all, usability testing involves only four key steps:

  1. Find 5 people willing to give you 20 minutes of time
  2. Give them some real tasks to do on your website
  3. Watch them complete those tasks while keeping very quiet
  4. Fix anything you found broken or use the results to get money for fixes!

That’s it. These are the exact same steps that Blackbaud’s product and interactive designers use every day when testing our products and websites.

What is important to test on my site?

During this series, we will cover each step of usability testing in detail so that you can comfortably answer these crucial questions about your users and your website.

Can my donors easily grasp the value my organization provides?
In a 2011 usability study by Jakob Nielsen, the #1 usability problem his research found was that potential supporters could not find clear information about the mission, goals, and objectives of a nonprofit before making a gift.

Can my donors easily find where to donate?
In the same study, Nielsen also found that 1 out of 6 participants tested could not find the organization’s donation form during his research of 60 nonprofits websites. Ouch!

Can my donors make a donation with zero friction and total trust?
Difficult forms equal abandonments that equal loss of revenue. It’s that important.

What will you learn in this series?

  1. How to create a simple plan for testing (but we’ll give you a great plan for free!)
  2. How to recruit participants and run your test
  3. Wrapping your testing up
    1. What to do with your results
    2. Additional resources for DIY usability testers

What’s next?

If you are itching to get started, you’ll dig the next installment as we will jump right into a usability test plan I’ve created for testing nonprofit websites. Get ready to get your hands dirty!



Alissa Ruehl has been using Google Analytics since the first weeks it came out as a Google product. Through consulting, webinars, and conferences, she has helped hundreds of people at a variety of organizations and companies navigate Google Analytics and use it to refine their online marketing and website effectiveness. She currently uses her analysis skills as a senior user researcher on the Blackbaud products side, but she loves re-immersing herself the world of website analytics for her monthly Google Analytics blog posts. The only thing Alissa likes talking about more than data is food, but that’s a whole other blog.

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