Third Sector Excellence Awards 2012: Website - Winner: Merlin

For the best new or relaunched website

Merlin's improved website uses video, photographs and infographics
Merlin's improved website uses video, photographs and infographics

The international medical relief charity Merlin decided to focus on its supporters when it overhauled its website last year.

After re-evaluating its previous website, the charity made the bold move of handing over the reins to the department that knew the most about its supporters: the fundraising team.

Merlin's websiteThe budget for the project was £17,000, and extensive research and analysis, supporter focus groups and user testing highlighted the need for a completely fresh approach.

With the support of the consultancy Convio, the website was stripped back to focus on the charity's key messages: what Merlin does and where it does it. Options to donate, sign up or share were also introduced at each stage of a user's visit to the site.

The site navigation was simplified, and improved tagging meant that users were shown only relevant related content on each page, reducing the chances of them leaving the site. For example, when a visitor is interested in the charity's work in Afghanistan, they are now presented with specific information based on their search criteria.

The charity also focused on improving the website's search engine optimisation to ensure that it appeared higher on results pages when people searched for relevant key terms.

Merlin's websiteThe updated website makes increased use of video, photographs and infographics that allow the charity to tell engaging stories of its beneficiaries and effectively showcase its work across the globe.

The latest web statistics show the strategy has clearly worked: traffic to the site has increased by 16 per cent and the average amount of time visitors spend on the site has increased by 35 per cent since the relaunch.

The improved website has also brought an increase in monthly online donations of more than 50 per cent.

Award judge Caroline Diehl, chief executive of the Media Trust, said: "The new Merlin website is bright, clear and engaging. It also demonstrates great use of photographs and videos."

JUDGING PANEL

Caroline Diehl, chief executive, Media Trust

Peter Maple, senior lecturer for MSc Management in Civil Society, London South Bank University

Karl Wilding, head of policy, research and foresight, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Macmillan Cancer Support: Online Community website relaunch

OTHER FINALISTS

- Action on Hearing Loss

- Living Streets

- The Millennium Centre: St Helens Gateway

- Unicef UK: My Fundraising

- Read about the winning entries

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