WEDNESDAY 30 MAY 2018 10:52 AM


Improving users’ understanding of the charity and its website, the British Red Cross has launched its new website designed by brand experience engineers Rufus Leonard. The project has achieved to significantly increase the donation conversion rate.

Gemma Hamilton, head of brand and strategic marketing at British Red Cross, talks to Communicate magazine about the role of web experience in developing brand purpose and how charities can harness customer experience to drive online donations.

What inspired the website renovation? And with what goal in mind?

We want to create the best possible experience for anyone who has a part with the British Red Cross. We knew that our old website hadn’t been updated for about seven years and we also evaluated the use of the pages, finding that 59% hadn’t been used for over a year. It was a job that needed to be done and the purpose behind it was to ensure that, as we grow as a movement, we continue to fulfil our purpose and make the biggest positive difference to people in crisis.

What was the biggest challenge you faced before and during the project?

The British Red Cross is a diverse organisation in terms of the services that we offer, the teams and the individuals. It’s our shop window and the way the website had evolved, there were a lot of interested parties and so the development process needed to be a long and careful process of consultation and collaboration to insure the teams were kept informed, because the development of the website was rooted in user experience and user testing, putting the audience in the heart of what we do. That meant that we reduced the pages of the site. The challenging part of the process was ensuring that any interested party was kept informed.

What is the role of web experience in developing brand purpose?

We in the British Red Cross have a clear sense of purpose in terms of our vision of the world and our mission to ensure that everyone gets the help that they need in a crisis. Our website is a critical way in which we fulfil that purpose. We talk about the new website as a key platform of connecting human kindness with human crisis. That means ensuring that people who want to join our movement, volunteer with us or make a donation, but also, the people who need our services and need help, are able to so in the most accessible and straight forward way.

What is the difference between designing a brand experience for a corporate and for a charity?

I think it comes down to the product. A commercial company’s objective is selling, generating income, when our charitable purpose is quite different. We are looking to improve the quality of life of people in crisis, ensuring that our website is a service in itself, to allow people to get the help that they need. Our whole approach was designed around providing a service for users and meeting their needs rather than trying to get them to buy a product.

How can charities harness CX to drive online donations?

People go on the web having an idea of what they want to achieve, and it is our role as an organisation to make it as easy as possible for them to do that. By building a website, focusing on the needs of visitors and ensuring that we understand how people are using the website currently and how they might like to use it in the future, we are able to make those pathways as easy as possible, which helps us to drive donations.

How did you achieve consistency between the web and the main brand while creating a new more digital-friendly experience?

In building our new brand strategy, we conducted lots of internal and external research to define who we are as an organisation. That led to the development of our new brand strategy and our new brand promise ‘connecting human kindness with human crisis.’ We worked closely with our strategic brand agency, our in-house marketing and brand team and creative agency Rufus Leonard. Rufus Leonard made the new experience inclusive and accessible, specifically for those in need at a time of crisis – this included ensuring a seamless mobile experience. This involved organising, re-structuring and labelling content in a way that would help people find information and complete tasks quickly, rationalising 4,000 pages down to 350 and consolidating 74 services.

Did the success of the project make you understand a bit more about customer behaviour? And how do you plan to apply what you’ve learned in the future?

We are constantly monitoring how users use the new website and we are talking this information and quickly adapting so that it continues to be as effective as it possibly can be. This builds on the extensive user-testing that we did prior to the website launching, with over 900 users. It is all about our users’ behaviours and tailoring the website to make it as easy to use as possible.

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