St Elizabeth Hospice is a charity providing specialist care for those living with a progressive or terminal illness. They deliver care and support within the hospice, the community, and in patients’ homes.
As a charity that is heavily reliant on public funding to operate, St Elizabeth Hospice’s website plays a vital role in attracting donations and promoting its fundraising events and initiatives. As such, it is important that each area of the website performs as effectively as possible – engaging, informing and converting all visitors appropriately.
There were several key areas of the website that the management team required insights into, these included:
Hugely important for fundraising and PR, events are one of the Hospice’s key revenue-generating activities. The team therefore needed to know whether events information could be found easily on the website, as well as which areas of those pages attracted the most attention.
With plans to further develop the e-commerce side of the business, the Hospice needed to know how easily website visitors could find their online shops.
While there are large ‘Donation’ call-to-actions around the site, the Hospice was unsure as to the effectiveness of these and whether the donations page itself was user-friendly enough to drive users to make a donation.
In addition to its core service of hospice care, St Elizabeth provides a wider range of services including an advice line, young adult service, therapies and group support. There were questions however over how quickly and easily information about these services could be found.
Symptom control and self-care
There is a plethora of information on the website designed to help people manage their symptoms. Again however, the Hospice needed to know whether this information could be found quickly and easily.
As well as the above, the Hospice needed to know how easily people could find information about their education and training; and required more insights into the general layout of the website, including imagery.
For all of these areas, insights into the way in which the website functioned on a mobile device was of high importance.
As the only company local to them that could offer eye-tracking usability studies, we were engaged to carry out one-day participant testing that would provide the Hospice with important insights into user behaviour.
These insights needed to be actionable with any recommendations explained in a straightforward language so that the Hospice could work on them over the coming months.
We were asked to ensure that a cross-section of participants, who represented the range of people in need of the Hospice’s services, were used for the study. This would entail testing taking place at the weekend in order to be accessible to a wider range of people.
The testing all took place within a single day, with the final report delivered to the St Elizabeth Hospice team four weeks later.
Following the initial meeting, during which we discussed what the Hospice was hoping to achieve from a usability study, we set about designing a testing scenario that would provide them with relevant and actionable insights.
We planned for the study to take place during one day and devised a series of tasks for study participants that would enable us to answer the Hospice’s questions.
These tasks included:
Before finalising our usability study plan, we collaborated with the Hospice team who reviewed and signed off the suggested tasks. We then set about rehearsing the study at the SimpleClick offices.
We chose to carry out the testing on a Sunday, helping us to fulfil a key part of the brief from the get-go. Selecting 10 participants, with an even gender split and a mix of ages, we ran the study using our Tobii eye-tracking hardware which enables us to view in real-time which areas of the website users looked at.
As mobile performance was an important aspect of the study, the participants were split into two groups of five, with one group undertaking the test on desktop and the other on an Android mobile device.
Following the study, we analysed the results of each task, compiling them into a report which contained screenshots of heat maps, gaze plots, opacity maps and their interpretations, ensuring that outcomes of each task were explained in an easy-to-understand way.
Based on the data we collected, we included a series of short and long-term recommendations for improvements in layout, navigation and content, as well as recommendations for further testing that would enhance the study.
Having this technology at our disposal has been invaluable for the hospice. Through eye-tracking, we have verified how the website is driving donations, and these findings will direct new ways of communicating with the community and will navigate improvements to our website.
Rosemary Porter, Marketing & Communications Manager at St Elizabeth Hospice
For each area of concern identified by the Hospice, we were able to provide them with detailed insights into why particular pages weren’t quite ‘working’ as intended – showing them which aspects of design and navigation were not as effective as they needed to be and what changes needed to be made in order to fix these issues.
Many of the recommendations made were relatively straightforward yet would make a significant difference to conversion rates and ultimately, revenue.
Being able to provide the team with visual ‘proof’ of user behaviour in the form of heat maps and gaze plots amongst other test results, enabled them to see first-hand how the website was used and where the sticking points were.
Alongside recommendations that the Hospice could work on internally following the study, we were able to offer them various ‘quick wins’ that would have an immediate impact.
One such quick win related to the main navigation. Prior to the study, there was large blue button displayed on the right-hand side of the navigation section which advertised the Hospice’s support line. This had been designed to be large and bright blue in order to draw the eye, however our study showed that not one user focused on this button at all.
Instead, users went straight to the text links within the navigation:
Drawing on this valuable insight, the look and feel of this area can be updated, taking advantage of users’ propensity to gaze toward the left.
Another quick win related to the large amount of online ‘real estate’ being taken up by large banners on each page, containing the page title. Whilst the page title is of course really important, our study showed that users simply weren’t reading it.
We were able to demonstrate that once arriving on a page, users immediately scrolled down to the text sitting underneath the banner, and often toward a photo. We can assume that this is due to an element of what we call ‘banner blindness’.
What this also suggested however is that, despite the page title’s very large font size, users were unsure of whether they were on the correct page and needed to verify this by reading further.
Our report contained a number of insights such as this, covering all of the areas the Hospice had asked us to. We were also able to give the team some insights into which elements of the website were working really well, such as the Donations page. Our heat map of this page showed that the donation form drew the eye of all participants immediately, removing one of the main barriers to donating and making it very easy for them.
The Hospice team was extremely pleased with the findings and recommendations we provided and are confident that when actioned, they will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of the website and, most importantly, to the lives of the people they help.
Want to hear how eye-tracking can provide invaluable insights into your website? Talk to us today. Call 0844 736 2747 or find more ways to.