The Special Olympics is an international sports event that promotes the empowerment of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport. Special Olympics North Macedonia is a non-profit organization recognized by the International Special Olympics, and our task was to create a modern, professional website for them to showcase their work, attract more partners, volunteers, and donors. This project was assigned to us early on in our bootcamp program, and it was our first opportunity to work with real clients and propose a real solution.
The Challenges of Relying on Facebook and Traditional Media for Special Olympics North Macedonia
The absence of an official website contributed to a lack of public interest in donating, securing long-term partnerships, and efficiently recruiting and motivating volunteers. Despite being a highly active organization with numerous members and accomplishments on both a national and international level, Special Olympics North Macedonia did not have an official website to inform the public and its members about ongoing activities and the important work they do. Instead, they relied on Facebook and traditional media such as television and radio to communicate their message.
A Hub for Information and Empowerment: An Official Website for Special Olympics North Macedonia
The objective of this project was to design an official website that would increase donations, recruit volunteers, and attract partners. The website would serve as a transparent platform for showcasing the work, achievements, and impact of Special Olympics North Macedonia, in order to encourage more partnerships and donations. It would also function as a hub and information center for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends, and a broader audience interested in inclusive sports-related content.
Empowering Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities through a Transparent and Accessible Website
At the beginning of the project, we held a Zoom meeting and interviewed three stakeholders to gather ideas, requirements, and business goals that were directly related to the project.
During the stakeholder interview, we learned that the primary purpose of the website was to showcase the stories and achievements of individuals with intellectual disabilities, rather than to target them specifically. The website was intended to serve as a platform for communication with current partners and to increase digital exposure to the public. Therefore, it was important that the website effectively represented the experiences and accomplishments of the organization’s members. These insights helped guide our efforts and ensure that we were aligned with the needs and vision of the stakeholders throughout the project.
As part of our UX/UI case study, we worked to design and develop an official website for Special Olympics North Macedonia that met the needs and goals outlined by the stakeholders. Through our research and design process, we aimed to create a website that was intuitive, easy to navigate, and kept users up to date with the latest information. The website was intended to be a transparent platform for showcasing the work, achievements, and impact of the organization, as well as a hub and information center for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends, and a broader audience interested in inclusive sports-related content. By creating a website that was user-friendly, accessible, and effectively represented the organization’s mission and values, we hoped to increase donations, recruit volunteers, and attract partners for Special Olympics North Macedonia.
In order to gather inspiration and identify best practices for our website, we conducted a competitive analysis of several Special Olympics websites, including those of SO General, SO Sweden, SO Washington, SO France, and SO UK.
One key feature that we noticed across these websites was the prominent placement of the donate button, which was often emphasized as the main call to action. We recognized the importance of this design pattern as it makes it easier and more efficient for users to get involved and donate.
We also observed that many non-profits prominently displayed their mission statement at the beginning of their homepage. This was an effective way to clearly communicate the organization’s mission to users and help them understand the work of the nonprofit.
On the donate page, we noticed that many organizations provided pre-determined donation amounts to streamline the donation process and make it more efficient for users. These were some of the key design patterns that we considered in our own website design process.
Through this analysis, we identified several common design patterns that could be useful to consider for our website. One such pattern was the prominent placement of the donate button, which was used as a main call to action on many of the websites we reviewed. This was an effective way to encourage users to get involved and donate, and we decided to incorporate this feature into our design.
Another common pattern we noticed was the inclusion of a mission statement at the beginning of the homepage. This was an effective way to clearly communicate the organization’s mission to users and help them understand the work that they do.
On the donate pages of many of the websites we reviewed, we also noticed that pre-determined donation amounts were offered to make the donation process easier and more efficient for users. We decided to incorporate this feature into our design as well, in order to streamline the donation process for users of our website.
As part of our research efforts, I conducted user interviews with five participants over Zoom to gather insights into their donating habits and understand their needs and goals as donors. By speaking with these individuals, we were able to gain valuable insights that helped inform our design process and ensure that our website was tailored to meet the needs of our target audience.
To gain insights into the factors that influence people’s decisions about which nonprofit organizations to support, we conducted research to understand what drives these choices. Through our research, we were able to identify several key insights about what motivates people to get involved with a particular organization, including:
Who am I designing for?
To synthesize and clearly communicate the insights I gained from user research, I created user personas to represent different types of users. These personas were a helpful tool in answering the question: “Who am I designing for?” By understanding the goals, needs, frustrations, and motivations of the personas, I was better able to guide my design decisions. Personas are an essential element in the design process as they provide a clear understanding of the users and help ensure that the end product meets their needs.
To better understand the needs and goals of our user personas, I identified the task and user flows that would support their objectives. The website has a range of flows for different user journeys, but for this case, we will examine the steps a user would take on the website to make a donation.
After establishing the product goals, identifying user needs, and deciding on which features to include, we moved on to constructing the information architecture. This involved organizing and labeling the content in a clear and intuitive way to make it easy for users to find what they are looking for on the site.
The navigation menu was divided into six categories: About Us, Get Involved, Sports, Programs, Multimedia, and Contact. This allows users to access information through a logical and organized structure.
Transitioning to high-fidelity designs presented a significant challenge in terms of ensuring consistency across mobile and desktop viewports. Our goal was to create designs that were simple and straightforward, while also providing users with immediate information about the non-profit organization.
We anchored our designs in emotion, using imagery that evokes feelings of happiness, smiles, and gratitude among athletes to attract donations. Rather than focusing on the athletes’ needs, we emphasized their successes in order to elicit a sense of support rather than pity from users.
To instill trust and credibility in donors, we prioritized transparency in both the organization and its use of funds in the design of the website. The “About Us” page includes details on annual plans, reports, revenue and expenses, mission statement, and company history to give donors a clear understanding of how and where their donations are being utilized.
Our goal for the website design was to establish trust and credibility with donors by prioritizing transparency in both the organization and the use of funds. We accomplished this by prominently featuring an “About Us” page, which includes detailed information on annual plans and reports, revenue and expenses, mission statement, and company history. This allowed donors to easily access and understand the specific ways in which their donations were being utilized.
To provide a seamless user experience for athletes’ families and friends, we designed a dedicated sport page that features comprehensive information on all sports offered by the organization. The page includes details on training schedules, locations, and coaches’ biographies, making it easy for users to stay informed and up-to-date on the sports and teams they are interested in.
To enhance the user experience for volunteers and partners, we focused on improving information findability and simplifying registration. Through our research, we identified these as key areas of concern. To address information findability, we emphasized writing clear and concise content. For registration, we utilized a familiar user interface pattern to ensure a smooth and intuitive process for users.
When designing our product, we aimed to strike a balance between providing incentives and enforcing controls, while always keeping trust and credibility as our top priorities. We wanted to ensure that users were only encouraged to make charitable donations at a level they were comfortable with, without feeling pressured to give more than they wanted.