Analyzing the Journey

I arrived at Habitat at the beginning of an ambitious period of growth for the affiliate. There was no record of how the organization interacted with donors over time. Several people are involved in a donors journey with the affiliate. They may start by volunteering, then attend an event, and perhaps become a donor. Each of these touch points might be managed by a different person or department. This made it difficult to implement new donor recruiting and retention strategies because it was difficult to measure. The solution was to create a series of journey maps for our donors to focus our data gathering efforts. Once we knew what questions we wanted to ask, we could find the right data. Above is an example of map for the “Wordly Idealist” which is defined in the Habitat Brand Guidelines as one of our target demographics.

First we created a set of personas for different types of donors. We had some general categories to go on from the Brand Guidelines book. We had a wealth of data in our donor management system that we used to start defining the the broad categories. One key criteria is the donor had to have made two gifts to Habitat. Survey data from our volunteer programs and anecdotal information from our resource team helped inform what our donors goals were and what they were feeling and thinking at different points in their relationship with Habitat.

By assembling a bigger picture of how we were interacting with our donors we were able to identify several areas where we could improve our donor experience:

  • Speaking to issues that donors care about with tailored email content.

  • Email series that focus on how the donors money is being used locally today.

  • Better timing of appeals to coincide with inspiring events.

  • Better performing messaging across marketing channels that engages existing and potential donors.

  • Timed nuturing emails to ensure consistent communication.


Improving the UI

The original Habitat website consisted of several layers of what I cal “Portal Pages”. Click after click you would be confronted with 2 - 3 similar looking pages with a grid of 4 titles, images, and descriptions. According to our analytics most people did not make it more than 2 levels deep with anything below that being almost unseen. Aside from burying content, the overall UI of these pages needed help. The updated design (above right) attempted to address the following issues:

  1. Unclear Design: The title of each quadrant was separated from the description by an image that, in many cases was unrelated to the actual content of the link. ie: Individual has a picture of a group of women, this is right above Women Build which has a picture of staff outside the office.

  2. Hierarchy Issues: The first thing users see is a volunteer button, to the right is an information box that largely went unread that contained what the team deemed essential information about the scarcity of available volunteer slots.

  3. Too many similar pages: Having so many levels of navigation with the same layout and no breadcrumbs made it difficult for users to know where on the site they were.

The updated design:

  1. Used brand colors and style guidelines to clearly differentiate the 4 options

  2. Is used only on top-level pages when appropriate eg. There is less content and more links to different sections.

  3. Uses breadcrumbs to allow the user to easily see where they are and how to access previous content.

  4. Uses images as style elements that fade into the background and do not distract from the important information.

Navigation Update

The Habitat website used a mega menu consisting of 54 different pages with 3 levels of visible hierarchy. The actual site hierarchy, in some cases, went 5 to 6 pages deep. Our goal was to identify high value content, consolidate non-essential information, and flatten the hierarchy to ensure simple and direct paths existed between the home page and essential information.

Analytics & Competitive Analysis

To start off our project we looked at our own analytics to determine common user paths, bottle necks, and underserved pages. We also spoke with department stakeholders to discuss what they felt was important information that was not being presented to their users, be they donors, potential homebuyers, or volunteers.

We also looked at other successful affiliates around the country. There were several common elements we found in their top level navigation that helped give form to our intuition and anecdote based hypothesis.

Some common themes we noticed

  • There are always two donate buttons, one that goes directly to a donation form and one that gives the user more options to donate and these are both top level items with a stylistic differentiation or with the non-form option being called “Support”. Driving customers to either of these choices is generally a win.

  • Volunteer should be a top level item. Our affiliate does not have a lot of volunteer opportunities for individuals because of our paid groups filling many of the slots but it’s important to capture and direct this groups attention as they have the potential to become strong supporters.

  • Menu items that were inconsistent from site to site showed us how each affiliates service offerings and region required slightly different approaches. One affiliate might have “Housing Help” if they offered an array of ownership or repair programs while an affiliate doing a large volume of building might choose “Our Impact” to display their presence in the city.

Update Navigation

We decided to remove several old pages that were not needed and consolidate others that were fragmented but related. For our top level items we decided to remove Our Builds as much of the information was outdated and redundant. This allowed us to bring buried menu options up in the hierarchy, eliminate redundant pages and stay within only 6 top level items.

Get Involved  - Programs - Our Builds - ReStore  - About Us - Donate

Donate - Volunteer  - Get Involved  - Programs - ReStore  - About Us


Designing within Brand Guidelines

Eat Drink Build is a local event thrown by one of Habitat's volunteer groups: Women Build. Restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds on the day of the event to Habitat. The new Habitat for Humanity International brand guidelines have been slowly adopted by affiliates around the country but this event had not yet had a brand refresh at our affiliate. The guidelines for events in the new brand book are somewhat limited. One of the directives is to not have logos or unique artwork for programs like this . This can make it difficult to create eye catching marketing materials. This concept aims at a balance between the strict "No logo" brand guidelines and something loud and fun to catch the eye. 

Using simple iconography, which is allowed under the guidelines, and the full brand color palette, the solution is bright and eye-catching, but still felt feels like Habitat.