Assignment Two, Cheryl Lowry and Rachel Crick

Web Site Genre Analysis: Nonprofit
Rachel Crick and Cheryl Lowry
November 10, 2011

Sites selected

1) Seattle Digital Literacy Initiative

SDLI site analysis

2) American Red Cross

Red Cross site analysis

3) Oceana

Oceana site analysis


Similarities in visual design

  • Logos in upper left corner of home pages
  • Banners at top of site with logo
  • Tabbed menus below the banner
  • Links to social media platforms (although not in the same place on the page)
  • Use of particular color in repeated theme elements
  • All have “about us” link
  • All have some form of news on the home page

Note: Red Cross and Oceana have several thematic elements in common lacking in SDLO:

  • Contrasting colors on call to action elements (e.g., donate buttons)
  • Search in upper right  of home page
  • E-mail list sign up feature
  • Donate buttons on upper right of home page
  • Rotating “heroes” (images that include headlines) in upper center of page
  • Region-finding mechanisms in the upper right corner of home page (this would not apply to SDLO since it is a local organization)

Differences in visual design

  • Red Cross and Oceana look professionally designed, SDLO looks like it was created with a blog template.
  • Some of the sites have a motto or tagline on the banner and some do not.
  • The menu items and number of menus are inconsistent across the sites (except for the mutual inclusion of “about us”)
  • Some of the sites make clear the charity’s purpose with clear menu headings and headlines, some do not.
  • Each site offers different social media options on different places on the page, sized and designed in various ways.
  • Some have clear links to blogs, some don’t
  • Different banner sizes that take up different amounts of vertical space at the top of the sites
  • Some feature home page video, some don’t
  • Some contain pictures of the people (or animals) helped by the charity, some don’t

Scenario for testing the design(s) and definition of success

Jane Doe is a college undergraduate who would like to assist a charity that helps people or animals in need as part of a sociology project. She is researching various charities to understand:

A)   What the charity does and who it helps
B)   How to donate money or time
C)   How to find out what other people think of the charity using social media channels

A charity with a successful visual design will enable Jane to:

  • Quickly learn about what the charity does (the mission is made clear, and supporting details are provided)
  • Feel moved or educated by clear, representative pictures of the charity’s work
  • Feel confident about how effective the charity is (there are supporting documents and details about the charity’s work)
  • Understand how she can contribute time or money (how to do this is obvious, and the details are provided. Also, there is a secure method to donate money)
  • Quickly see what the public is saying about the charity via an obvious path to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media discussion

Effectiveness of visual design

Seattle Digital Literacy Initiative

The visual design of SDLI fails to pass the scenario test for the following reasons:

  • Its design is unprofessional (it looks like it is created from a blog template) which does not inspire trust in Jane.  There aren’t many pictures or first person accounts of the students helped by the charity, which does not impress her.
  • It is not clear to Jane who the charity helps and what it does. The “About us” link does not explain what the charity does, as Jane expected, but rather provides biographies of the staff.
  • The brief descriptions of SDLO programs under the “Students” tab don’t provide any information about how Jane can get involved.
  • The Support Us tab has very little information about donations, and no mechanism for donating online; it just provides an e-mail alias.
  • The social media options allow Jane to “like” the charity, but it is unclear whether it has a source of social media information like a Twitter stream or Facebook page.

American Red Cross

The visual design of the American Red Cross passes the scenario test for the following reasons:

  • The design is professional, well-organized, and provides clear categories, sufficient details, pictures, and supporting documents to help Jane’s research.
  • The “About us” link provides clear and detailed information about the charity’s mission, including supporting documents.
  • It is obvious how to donate; there is a large button on the home page and an easy, informative way to donate online.
  • A  prominent “Giving and getting involved” link tells Jane that she can donate, volunteer, give blood, or consider becoming an employee, and provides links to each type of assistance with instructions on how to get started.
  • Links to several social media channels give Jane a direct connection to social media discussions about the charity.


The visual design of Oceana passes the scenario test for the following reasons:

  • The About us link, like Red Cross, provides clear and detailed information about the charity’s mission, including supporting documents.
  • The site provides extensive and attractively-designed research information about endangered animals and the charity’s work with them, so Jane can learn specifically how Oceana helps. Particularly the beautiful photographs inspire her interest and sympathy.
  • The prominent Take Action link provides a direct link to a petition about a specific animal welfare issue, making it easy to help in a specific way.
  • Prominent “Donate now” buttons make it clear how to contribute, and there is a web form that makes this easy.
  • Oceana has a Facebook page and Twitter stream that are easy to find near the lower part of the home page, if she wants to hear what other people are saying about the charity.

One response to “Assignment Two, Cheryl Lowry and Rachel Crick”

  1. Kathy E. Gill says :

    The persona/scenario section does not provide enough information to use as a basis for analysis.

    Tasks are usually more concrete -> “how to donate” isn’t a task, the task is something like “Sam wants to donate $25 using his credit card or Helen wants to volunteer one weekend a month.” How might you rephrase ” What the charity does and who it helps” to be a task?

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