A concise guide to effectively designing donation pages

It is very rare that people will google and come to a website with the specific intent to donate which means you’re typically trying to convert a user that is visiting your website for an alternative purpose – so keep things simple!

Donation Page Design and Structure

If possible avoid sending people offsite to micro-sites, it breaks the user journey and can be concerning to more security conscious users. Carousels should be removed from donate pages – you’ve already made a conversion and further call to action and appeal pages should only be related to the current donation path. With this in mind, a link to the donate page (Donate Now buttons) shouldn’t appear when you’re already on the donate page!

Avoid having your field explanations within boxes that will disappear when you click them, have it above the field entry or copy PayPal’s implementation and retain it in the box whilst the user is entering data but be wary of how older browsers may or may not interpret this.

Donation landing pages should avoid having a menu at the top cluttering the page – you can always re-introduce navigation post-donation. PayPal makes for a significantly easier donation path and provides an extra layer of protection for your users – it’s well worth implementing if possible. Keep donation callouts simple, there’s no need to write “please donate now”, “donate” will suffice. Social sharing / spread the word options should only be available post-donation.

Your form should present as simple and succinct. Not setting appropriate field lengths is a sure-fire way to overrun your form presentation with significantly more space than a user will ever input. Postcodes are never fifty characters long and the longest possible country name is only fourty-five characters!

Donation Amounts and selections

The average donation amount should be highlighted to guide the user. Try to limit to horizontal arrays for donation amounts with maximum of three options. Radio buttons and vertical lists have a typically have a lower conversion rate. Horizontal arrays with maximum three donation amounts is ideal.

Explain what the outcome of each amount could be for the community for e.g. “$50 could pay for a counsellor to those in need”. Default donation options should be indicated as being pre-selected with a tick, or something clearer than simply being highlighted and you should try to avoid jumping to the donation page before the user has had a chance to review the outcome of their selection. Avoid shopping carts for donation pages unless retail is a central donation focus. Make your case above the fold (top of the site), don’t use that area for further marketing / carousels.

Fields types, names and length

Only collect the data that you need! Don’t confuse or overwhelm your users. Many donation forms are too long – every field that you ask the user to input into your form is more time spent tied up in the donation process. For each point of data – consider how it will be used. Do you really need to ask that person for their middle name? Do you really need to capture titles, are they truly necessary for outbound communication? Do you really need to ask “How did you find out about us?”, don’t you already capture that in your analytics? What are you using the data for? Do you need it? Is it work sacrificing conversion rate?

Credit cards expiry should be in numbers, not month names to be more in line with what is displayed on the credit card. There’s also no need to ask the user for their card type, this can be detected from cc number first four digits.

What fields can be moved into a post-donation process? Can you capture just their name and e-mail now and then request further information post donation as a “we would like to send you a receipt” call to action? The more options you give people, the least likely they are to do anything due to information paralysis!

Also, try to avoid asking a user for a donor id or forcing them to signup / login to make a donation. Users are likely there as a once off activity from a call to action, or visit irregularly. You might know what their donor id is, but why should they?

Naming fields appropriately

Always try to use the field Last name not Surname, surname is very English centric and doesn’t translate over cultures well. Avoid internal terms – keep it simple. Assume that the user is there for the first time and doesn’t know any of your company’s slang or lingo.

Regular donation / regular giving isn’t common language outside of fundraising community. If you’re going to request it then provide context. Your average donation as a once off likely doesn’t match the average regular monthly donation – user journeys need to be crafted individually for each format.

Don’t use “Finish” or “Submit” at the end of a donation form, “Donate Now” or “Complete Donation” has a more positive vibe and is likely to connect better with your user base.