A lot’s changed since 2012, when our old website launched. Brexit wasn’t anywhere near a thing yet. Netflix had only just stopped mailing out DVDs in the post.
As well as modernising the site—like making it easier to view on your smart phone—we wanted to understand what people think and feel about us and our website, so we could make the new one as useful as possible.
‘It’s hard to work out what you do…’
I’ve worked here for over 3 years now, but when people at social events ask me what I do it’s still hard to explain (even though as Comms Manager that’s pretty much my job)…
‘We’re a charity, but our cause isn’t curing cancer or tackling poverty, it’s impact. We’re a think tank, but we do things as well as think about them. We’re a consultancy, but we don’t trade in answers, more in mindset and insights.’
At this point, the person I’ve just met is edging away towards the drinks table. So, how do we get this right on the website?
By remembering two things:
When people ask you what you do, they really want to know why you do it.
‘So what’s the point of you then?’, they wonder.
We’ve tried to make that clear throughout. We do lots of things, but there’s only one why: we’re trying to help the charity sector make a difference.
People do still want to know ‘what’ though. So we’ve spelled it out in the ‘What we do’ section.
People want to make up their own minds about you.
Talking to someone at a barbeque isn’t the same as a website. A website user is in control of what they hear, can fast forward you, or just walk away if they’re not interested.
If our user testing taught me anything, it’s that people will do anything they possibly can to avoid reading blocks of text.
If they can get what they need from pictures, headings or content like blogs and videos, they will ignore your painstakingly crafted ‘About us’ copy.
So our mantra throughout has been ‘show don’t tell’.
If you don’t read a single bit of our marketing blurb, our images show that we are bright, engaged, hard-working people and you’ll see that we like to get people together, through events and through partnerships. Our themes of work and our resource hub show that we’re curious about a lot of stuff, and like sharing what we’ve found.
‘It’s hard to find what you’re looking for…’
Because we do lots of stuff, it can make it hard to get people where they need to be.
…A funder looking to learn a bit more about systems change.
…A CEO of a tiny charity grappling with theory of change.
…A policy wonk researching how charities’ work intersects with the public sector.
We’ve split our work up into themes within five ‘whys’.
So if you know what you’re looking for you can hop to it. Or if you fancy discovering something new, you can have a browse.
‘I know you’re nice people, but you come across as a bit… intimidating’
Organisationally, we grapple with being bold without being obnoxious, smart without being ‘clever-clever’ or abstract. We want to be balanced, but sometimes we can end up being a bit vague.
But when people meet us in person, they tend to just get it.
So we want to avoid hiding behind abstraction, whether in images or language, and try and say and show things a bit more as they are.
You’ll see more of our faces across the website. And you’ll see more of the human side of what we’re trying to achieve.
Showing the human side is really important to us. Because while we’re not trying directly to cure cancer or alleviate poverty, we’re working to help those of you who are. We want to make things a bit easier, and ensure your mammoth efforts are channelled into the right places.
We hope you like the new website. We’ve worked hard to make it more user-friendly. But really, only you can be the judge of that.
In true NPC style, we’ll be reviewing and refining in a spiral of evaluation and improvement. If you have any thoughts, I’m all ears. Katy.Murray@thinkNPC.org