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Charity Website Refreshed with Lean UX Approach, Embedded Analytics

In the Charity sector, a website’s improved user experience aimed at the target audience can dramatically boost online fundraising, recruit support, and share the charity’s message more effectively. Combining this with embedded analytics, to provide evidence based on real users to drive any website improvements, can have a huge impact - as Mustard Tree, a local Manchester-based charity, is discovering.

Mustard Tree rebuilds the lives of the homeless and marginalised across Greater Manchester. And with more than 600,000 people living in poverty in Manchester, its mission is very close to the heart of our Manchester office. The charity is committed to providing life support for the homeless and marginalised across Greater Manchester. They work with those who are facing the greatest barriers to employment, education, good health outcomes, secure housing, social integration and financial integration, by seeking to tackle both the causes and consequences of poverty.

ThoughtWorks Manchester approached Mustard Tree to help them review their website and digital presence to better engage with our shared local community and key supporters. This was the beginning of a collaborative, longterm partnership with the charity.

Having a smooth user experience throughout Mustard Tree's website could be the difference between a successful donation, a referral of someone in need, or nothing. We quickly realised that an intuitive design and a user-centered mindset had the potential to hugely impact the success rate of these interactions and others,  and a lean UX approach was taken to prioritise the first phase of work on the website.

To kick off, key goals were identified, in collaboration with Mustard Tree to:

  • Expose (build local awareness);
  • Educate (help others understand the issues Mustard Tree addresses); and 
  • Engage (increase levels of donation, and simplify the process for interaction).

This gave the team an agenda and point of prioritisation whilst reviewing the overall architecture and layout of the site, and helped drive out the key interactions, interfaces and user journeys for improvement.

Based on the identified areas of focus, in just three days a rotating team of three ThoughtWorkers completed the first stage of the site transformation. Each change decision was linked back to these goals to ensure effort was being spent for maximum impact to the user experience of these key goals through the site. A quick feedback cycle between the team and the client throughout the day allowed the site to be visibly improved by the end of each day.

The ThoughtWorks team achieved the following website improvements, and much more:

Embedded analytics
to allow the Mustard Tree to understand how customers are using their site for the first time

Improved basic aesthetics
to improve reputation and sense of reliability for users to donate, refer and interact

Navigation improvements (first steps)
to ease customer journeys throughout the site

Consistent alignment, size, and style
to simplify font and format for customers to absorb site content

Reviewed layout of site pages and key actions
to make the website more intuitive for visitors to assist them in achieving their goals on the site

“When ThoughtWorks approached us about redesigning our website, it was clear that they take a lot of pride in their work and go above and beyond to get the job completed. A number of ThoughtWorkers visited Mustard Tree on three separate occasions to speak to customers, clients and volunteers to obtain their thoughts and views of our website, as well as finding out what the staff wanted to get out of the website. Once this was done, three key members of the team presented their findings to us and suggested ways to improve the site. Once we talked everything through, the team went away and in a matter of days, changed the entire feel of the site for the better. They totally understood what we wanted and were able to manage our needs with what would be best for users.

Feedback about the website has been all positive since the redesign. Users have commented that it looks great and that it's easier to navigate than before. The initial phase had such a positive impact on the site so we're very excited about what phase 1 will bring later this year. That's when we will be able to get down to the really interactive stuff and hopefully make it an experience for people visiting our site.

Throughout the entire process, not only did ThoughtWorks ask for feedback about the site, but also about their team which I found refreshing. It's not often that an organization will go out of their way to obtain feedback about the way their employees work and we think this is a contributing factor to why ThoughtWorks is such a successful organisation. We value our partnership with ThoughtWorks and relish the collaborative working environment. I look forward to what the future holds.“ - Soraya Sheikh, Organisational Development Manager, Mustard Tree

So what's next for the ThoughtWorks and Mustard Tree partnership?

With the initial phase of the projected plan for the website complete, Phase 1 is lined up for later this year. This will involve continuing to refresh the website, in particularly focusing on continuing the implementation of Mustard Tree’s rebranding, reviewing the Information Architecture, and introducing a simpler newsletter signup.

The embedded analytics is a huge asset to Mustard Tree and the development of the website going forward. In true Lean UX fashion, the embedded analytics shows the team where to focus their efforts, with an all-new understanding how the site is being used, on which devices, where people are clicking.

This understanding feeds into a continuous improvement cycle of the website, as improvements are made and we can monitor their exact impact, then make additional informed improvements; a benefit which is already helping to shape the backlog for Phase 1.

For more information about Mustard Tree, and to see the website, visit www.mustardtree.org.uk.