Using visitor surveys to improve your website



If you are 100% satisfied with how your nonprofit’s website performs in terms of generating donations, bringing in new volunteers or inspiring advocacy, then you can stop reading now.  


…Now, for all the honest humans out there…Your website serves a lot of different purposes:  inform people about your organization and its mission, educate the public about how it can take advantage of services you provide, demonstrate good stewardship and share your accomplishments, etc.  You carefully position calls to action amid your site’s content and you employ a variety of tools and tactics to drive conversion.

You can use Google Analytics to see how many people visit your site, or how many click on a button or link. And there is definitely value in this quantitative data.  But it can’t tell you WHY visitors do what they do.  And understanding the WHY can help you better answer questions like “How can we raise more money?”  or “What can we do to recruit more volunteers?”.

I visited the Charity:Water website today (as I often do when I want to bask in the glow of a well designed, powerful nonprofit website) and I was presented with a survey about my experience on their site.  The survey asked me to rank various aspects of the site, from design to page load times.  It asked me whether or not I responded to one of the two primary calls to action, DONATE or FUNDRAISE and why or why not.   It also asked me for demographic information.  It was quite a long survey, but I love the organization and I was happy to offer a few minutes of my time to help them.  

With enough respondents, Charity:Water will have a lot of information to help them improve the site.  They will understand why people responded to their calls to action.  They will understand why they didn’t.  Also, because they collected extensive demographic information, they will be able to see if there are trends in how particular groups of respondents behaved.

Every now and then it’s a good idea to ask yourself:


  • Do you know how people interact with your website?
  • Why do they visit your site?
  • Do they find what they are looking for?
  • Do they take the actions you want them to take?  If so, why?  If not, why not?


Gaining insights like this gives you the ammunition you need to make sure your website is working effectively to help you accomplish your goals.  Of course, you can hire a firm to help you execute a campaign like this.  Or, you can take visitor surveys on other sites to get an idea of the kinds of questions asked.  Then, you can piece together your own campaign pretty cheaply.


Here are some heatmap tools that can help you get a picture of how people interact with your site:

In-Page Analytics Chrome Extension

Crazy Egg


Here are a few survey tools to help you understand why they interact the way they do:






Here is a great presentation / video:   “Golden questions” that reveal exactly why your visitors aren’t converting