I work for a nonprofit and have been learning about UX and its methodologies but am no means an expert. We have a website that probably needs revamping and we want to get a sense right now of what a user takes away from the site when they visit - what do they think our mission is? where do we work? what types of people do we offer help to? etc...so far the resources I've found about UX testing seem to focus on products/apps/commercial websites. Are there good resources out there for UX specific to nonprofit sites? Is that an unnecessary separation, and the advice I see for commercial sites is also relevant to me?

I had been considering a moderated in-person test where participants think aloud as they navigate the site trying to answer a set of questions (like the ones I posed above about what the mission is, etc) while I take notes silently, but I would love feedback from experts on what might be the best method of eliciting accurate responses.

Thank you in advance!!

  • What do you think the implications of testing on a nonprofit site is (as opposed to websites in general)? The questions you have asked relate to all ux testing for websites, so it might help to understand the nature of the organisation you work for rather than whether it is a nonprofit or not.
    – Michael Lai
    Feb 18, 2020 at 23:18
  • @MichaelLai - I am not sure I understand your question: what I was trying to distinguish is that the commercial website info I kept seeing was all geared toward whether or not an app or product was usable or whether the site design encouraged people to buy a certain product. I'm just looking to test whether or not a user takes away the correct impressions from a casual look at our site, as we have funders who may come visit the site for a primer and know nothing about us and only spare a minute or two of looking it over.
    – Kate447
    Feb 20, 2020 at 17:13
  • I think that the same process used to test whether the feedback from users of your first impression is equally validate for commercial as well as nonprofit websites - people only give you a very small window of time to get your message across, and even though the message is different, the mechanism through which we process the information is the same.
    – Michael Lai
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:47

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you want to test visitors' comprehension of your organization's mission and what you do. This project sounds like it could be a good candidate for a 5-second test and a think-aloud study. In the 5-second test, you can show key pages for 5 seconds and ask the test subject that based on what they briefly saw, describe what they think you do and who you serve. This will help you understand if your headlines, photos and other branding elements are in line with the impressions you want to convey at a quick, visceral level.

In the think-aloud study, you can then have subjects review the pages as if they were casually interested in learning about your organization while giving you more detailed impressions. Let them spend as much time as they want on a page while telling you what they think your organization does, etc. Individually testing 5-12 people should give you a lot of good feedback.

  • I hadn't heard of five-second tests - that sounds like a good idea! Can I start each testing session off with that, and then have the same participant proceed to do the think-aloud? We are limited by resources on gathering participants.
    – Kate447
    Feb 20, 2020 at 17:08
  • Yes, that would be absolutely fine! A lot of people browse the internet that way -- they open a tab, do something else, and return to the page when they're ready.
    – Izquierdo
    Feb 20, 2020 at 19:46

That sounds right, what you described is a focus group and that would work well for you as you can perhaps get users willing to do it at no cost.

I believe UX principals apply similarly to commercial websites and it's worth looking into websites that would have similar user or provide similar services and see what they are doing.

Also depending on the kind of users you have you may need to look into accessibility.


Testing one on one with users is not restricted to usability issues, you can definitely ask them questions about their perception and understanding of your website. Some usability testing companies have free or cheap trial offers.

I would recommend doing un-moderated tests or using an external moderator. If the participants know you're involved with the non-profit organization, they might not be as honest and critical as they would be alone or with an independent observer.

Ideally you should use a camera (or just your phone) to record audio and video, in addition to the notes taken by the moderator.

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