practical mobile tips for non-profits and charities

I was one of the keynote speakers at Media Trust’s Go Mobile conference this week, a few people have asked for my slides and notes so here they are…


Mobile is here

You have to think mobile for all of the experiences you are designing. It’s not going away and it’s not ‘on the horizon’, its well and truly here.

But it’s still evolving

Mobile compatibility is still not entirely standardised, it’s a bit like the www in the 90’s. Adoption of different devices is also changing rapidly. For example, in just the last year the UNICEF UK website has seen a big growth in iPad that has caught it up with iPhones, we also saw Google Nexus 7 appear as well as others.

Case: UNICEF UK Mobile Website

To make sure we had a mobile compatible site as quickly as possible we launched an interim mobile website of just a few key pages and the donation funnel. We’re working on optimising the whole of the site. To keep costs lower and give us increased technology flexibility we’re using separate ‘layers of tech’ to do the transformation rather than having a fully responsive site (for now).

Case: UNICEF Sweden website

Our UNICEF Sweden office, on the other hand, have created a fully responsive website. They were on the brink of a full website rebuild so it made sense to invest now and go ‘mobile first’. The site is designed for smartphones first and PC desktops last. They had to make some hard decisions on how to streamline content.

Forget about ‘mobile’

It’s easy to get obsessed about mobile devices, really what this change means is a change of behaviours. Remember behaviour first when you are designing user experiences. People are now using multiple devices, we don’t live in single screen households.

Time of day

This graph demonstrates a clear difference in behaviour that mobile has created. UNICEF UK non-mobile traffic peaks during working hours while traffic from mobile devices is consistent throughout the day, even into the early hours. This pattern is important when you think about how people are interacting with your brand.

Case: UNICEF UK Speak Up for Children

I’ve learnt the behaviour lesson. We (with an amazing group of partners) did a brilliant mobile campaign called Speak Up for Children, it was a great success in the end, but we failed at first. The original concept was to create the biggest voice petition in the world. It seemed to make sense that a mobile campaign should use the voice feature of your mobile phone.

We quickly learned that very few people wanted to interact this way, it was just a bit too intrusive / embarrassing. So we paused the campaign and replaced the petition with a simple email address entry field.

Case: Syria Emergency

We also know that SMS giving is really effective. It enables the immediate emotional response of a supporter who wants to help, it also gets funds for emergencies quickly. We even include the SMS giving number in search adword campaigns. You should be prepared for SMS giving no matter what charity you are.

Apps are hard

Finding a concept that works as an app is hard. UNICEF offices around the world have tried and success has been limited. You need an app that fits with an individual’s life, if you wouldn’t download it – don’t build it.

When I worked at the British Heart Foundation we created a recipe finder app, it worked because it was something people could use repeatedly and it fitted with our brand.

Email is important

Increasingly, email is consumed on mobile. If you have an email marketing programme or email newsletter it should be compatible with mobile now. Even if you have to create plain text emails, it’s better than emails that don’t work on a mobile.

It can be easy (sort of)

If you have very limited resources it can be very difficult to go mobile. But there are lots of platforms which are now mobile compatible which you could design your experience around. For example; using twitter, facebook and justgiving could give you a campaign experience which is mobile compatible without you needing to convert your own website for a bit longer.

And that was it!

15 mins really isn’t very long to talk about mobile. I didn’t even touch on UNICEF use of mobile in the field, there’s a bit about that in this innovation presentation.

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