What is the International Rescue Committee?
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people affected by humanitarian crises—including the climate crisis—to survive, recover and rebuild their lives. They do so by accepting donations and facilitating volunteer efforts

I was tasked with determining the usability of the International Rescue Committee's website, and to present fact driven recommendations on how to improve the websites layout and voice. All of this will assist the International Rescue Committee in creating a seamless and high usability site for the average International Rescue Committee user.


VADU Scorecard
The first thing I did when starting this project was go through the entire website. I made sure to click on everything that could be clicked, making a mental map of pathways through the website. I then followed this up with an evaluation through the VADU Scorecard. What I found from the VADU Scorecard is that the IRC already has a site with mid to high usability. I did determine though that in some instances usability severely decreased. For example, when clicking on a sub-header, sometimes you were brought off the site or to a different part of the website where getting back to the home page was not possible. They also had icons that seemed intractable but were not. Lastly, I found that a couple of the top menu items were very similar and could definitely confuse a user.

I then decided that I should narrow down the focus onto improving the features that are primarily used by a visitor. How would I assess something so broad? Well the first step is determining a typical users goals when landing on the website. I came up with the five following user goals which come into play later on in my research.
1. To Donate
2. To Volunteer
3. To Become Corporate Sponsors
4. Learn About the International Rescue Committee
5. Learn about current issues in the world

Competitor Analysis
So now that we know what our users are trying to accomplish, it's time to look at some competitor sites that have a similar user to ours. Completing a competitor analysis can be tiring, but when you have cut out the bulk by focusing on only five tasks like I have, it's a lot quicker. I compared the International Rescue Committee's site to that of Save the Children. The whole point of this competitor analysis is to see if a similar brand is using different techniques than our brand and if it is more useful or beneficial. This analysis showed me that there are better ways at arranging and placing content on a site. Here are some of the insights/recommendations that I gained from this step in the process.
1. Donations: I think that the IRC needs to add a big button that is bold, bright and easy to see. They then need to allow users to select payment and enter payment on one page in order to eliminate steps and keep the process easy and streamlined for the user. 
2. Volunteering: I think the way International Rescue Committee set their section up is better. There are some takeaways though like a full page sign up that allows users to believe that they have a higher chance of getting an email, but the location based options I think is a very helpful tool. 
3. Ability to learn: There were good and bad sides to both sites. Combining the two good parts, I believe that the best way to go about informing visitors about the company would be to have a recognizable subtitle like “why IRC” but to also include images like Save the Children did. 
4. Becoming a sponsor: I think that International Rescue Committee should bring some ideas from Save the Children like a sign up page with contact info and a clear information section describing the tasks available to volunteer for. Having an “expand” button is not helpful at all. All in all I think there are some good features from the Save the Children site that IRC should adopt in order to be more successful in their site.

Looking back on these findings, you can tell that that there is work that is needed to turn IRC's website into an overall better site for their user. The things I want to focus on going forward are...
1. Learning what makes people want to donate
        - What factors would play into donation amount
        - What compels people to continue to donate
2. Determining what drives people to want to visit a charity website
3. Understanding what content motivates users to donate to a cause. (articles & photos)
4. Understanding what factors play into volunteering
5. Understanding what makes one trust an organization

In Depth Interview
Using these five focus points above, I started to draft up a multitude of questions for each individual point. These questions would be asked in an in depth interview format that would take around 15 minutes to complete. I gained a lot of insight through this process with my multiple subjects. I learned that donators look for positive impact and not sob-stories when choosing where to donate. I also leaned that donators are more likely to repeat donate when they can see the direct impact of their donation. Straying from donating, some red flags some users saw when looking at a site was the constant ask for money and dated webpages.

Website Usability Test
This is all good, but how is this going to help the IRC? Now knowing what a specific user is looking for and how they react to certain elements, I can finally put the IRC's website in front of an average user. What I did was create a usability script that a participant would follow. They would read tasks that would need to be completed on the IRC's site. While doing the tasks, the participant will be talking, letting me know why he/she is making the decisions that they do. These tasks are all based on the five bullet points above. 

I gained a lot of insights and crafted a multitude of recommendations for the International Rescue Committee through this stage. There were three main things that I found:
1. Users have difficulties distinguishing tabs in the navigation bar from each other. This makes learning about the IRC an overly complicated task.
2. The design of the corporate sponsor page has a poor use of navigational tools, i.e. drop downs, side links, etc. 
3. The design of the volunteer page gave little to no detail on how to find a donation location. This, combined with the poor location of the volunteer button in the drop down, caused users to go everywhere but the volunteer page.

Card Sort
Now that I can see what our main problems are with the International Rescue Committee's site, I can start working on ways to fix these low usability situations. The first part that I want to address, and is what first greets you as soon as you enter the site, is the navigation bar. It has been stated multiple times through this research process that this navigation bar fails at almost every aspect. Pictured below is an image of a card sort that I did. I started by writing out all of the sub-menus (things that visitors would like to do when they visit the site). After grouping all of the similar ones together, I, along with the help of others, came up with titles for the new groupings. At the end, the new navigation labels ended up being: How to help, How to give, Who we are?, Our History & Finances, and What we do.
Persona & Design Persona
Wrapping up with the research, I have already addressed the multitude of problems I encountered with the IRC webpage. Now it's time to not only put a face to our user but also to the site as a whole. What I came up with a persona for a user is a 33 year old man Named Doug Martin. Doug is married, a father, and is the owner of an entertainment bar. Doug grew up in an unsafe place and now feels the need to give back as he is now successful. Doug does not know how to operate technology very efficiently. He also likes to see the impact of his donation and would prefer a subscription based donation so we doesn't need to log in every month. 
As for the design persona, I went the unique route of having the voice of the site be that of a middle aged man named Walter. Walter is very passionate about his charitable work and has lots of experience with everything on the site. Walter is someone who helps out whenever he is able to, he helps users to accomplish their goals of helping others. His voice would give our users a sense of reassurance. It would be calm and would speak slowly, not in a rush. The voice would give a sense of intelligence when speaking but not to the point where users feel insecure or don’t belong
What I learned & Results
This whole process was very eye opening for me as I started with a website that I didn't think had any major problems and that I thought had a great design. Now I see a website that has many different problems that definitely add up to a bigger whole. I learned that there are always going to be problems, no matter how hard they are to see. Utilizing all of these tools stated above, you are bound to be able to make drastic improvements to your site. I am very excited that I was able to learn from this whole process and at the same time help a charitable company.
Now let's look at some some main takeaways and results from all of this research: 
1. The navigation bar was very confusing and did not work well with the average user. I was able to infer this through multiple steps of the research, but it really came in to fruition during the usability test where I was actually able to see participants interact with it. This led me to determining new labels in order to allow users to find their desired location easier. Like I stated above, these are labeled now as How to help, How to give, Who we are?, Our History & Finances, and What we do.
2. The corporate sponsor page had very poor use of navigational tools and did not live up to its reputation. It should be easy to become a corporate sponsor on a charity website. What I recommended was to create a section of the page titled "how to start" with a step by step process and links provided to the sign up survey. This would eliminate the confusion and get the user to their desired location faster.
3. The volunteer page was almost non-existent to users as half of the participants in the usability study couldn't locate the page without help. When one of your main goals is to have people volunteer for your organization, it should be a relatively straightforward process to sign up. My recommendation to IRC is to make volunteering more accessible through different paths on the site as well as improving search bar results
4. The site lacked a cohesive voice that resonated with the user. Through the re-worked design persona, I was able to create an "avatar" or sorts who was serious but not unhopeful, sad but not sorrowful, powerful but not complicated, and understanding but not ignorant. I believe that through popups and subtle wording that this new voice will allow for users to feel satisfied with their visit.
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