Last year, Simple Focus redesigned the website for Northeast Arkansas (NEA) Baptist Charitable Foundation, a wing of the Baptist Memorial Healthcare system in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

At the center of the new site would be half-a-dozen forms, each one tailored to a specific program or cause. Because fundraising is at the core of the Foundation’s mission, getting the of these forms right was key to the project’s success.

How did we do it? By a system with rock-solid functionality and a design that builds trust.

Building user trust is a two-sided coin. On one side, the UI has to do some work to convince the user that the site is legitimate and their information is secure. On the other side, the experience has to conform to the user’s expectations and give them confidence that they’re on the right path throughout the process. Any hiccup in either of these areas can undermine the relationship.

Being Honest and Transparent

Neilson Norman Group outlines just how important upfront disclosure is when striving for trustworthiness in design. Users want to know how their money is being handled, where it’s going, and have total control over their donation amount.

We did a few things to empower the user on this front:

  1. Allow them to earmark their donation for a specific cause or program up front.
  2. Ask them to choose a donation amount and specify any additional information (like an honoree’s name) first, before keying in their personal and financial information.
  3. Confirm the amount to be donated near the end of the form in a large font.
  4. Add an Certified Merchant badge. For some users, just seeing a badge—and a secure lock icon on the submit button — is enough to make them feel at ease. For the particularly skeptical, clicking the badge and confirming that the site is an authorized partner will seal the deal.

Making It Feel Familiar

Imagine if clicking the “Donate Now” button linked to a PayPal payment screen with no NEA Baptist Foundation branding in sight. You might trust Paypal (or you might not), but wouldn’t you feel edgy that the organization was handing over control of your donation experience to a third party? What if someone had hacked in and redirected the Donate Now button to link to a different PayPal account? Would you be able to tell?

Consistency is key. We took time to write custom CSS into Gravity Forms that extends the design patterns from the rest of the site—so when a user arrives at the form after learning about the foundation, they won’t feel misdirected.

On the Brick Paver form, this also allowed us to get creative: users can enter their inscription on a preview of a brick, giving them a better idea of what the brick will look like.

Closing the Loop

Have you ever submitted a contact form, been redirected to the homepage without a confirmation message, and made this face?

Even a simple “We received your message, thanks!” goes a long way. But in this , that’s not enough. When a transaction is involved, users are owed a receipt.

When a user completes the Foundation’s donation form, they are taken to a page with a copy of their form submission data with a thank you message. They have the option to print the page for their tax records—complete with a print-friendly CSS—and will also receive an email confirmation.

All this adds up to a friendly, helpful, thorough experience that users can trust.


Concurrent with the product launch, the Foundation started a renewed push to drive online donations. The new site makes it easier for users to just do that, which has resulted in a noticeable increase in online giving.

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