ASPCA Website Redesign

Building empathy and urgency for animals in need

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a mission to “provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States” and has been in operation for 150 years. In late 2015, the ASPCA partnered with Boston Interactive to redesign their website and create a more persona-driven strategy that more closely aligned with their new strategic plan.

Aug 2015 - Feb 2016
UX Designer
The Challenge

The greatest hurdle our team faced was untangling the current architecture and finding ways to deliver better calls to action that would communicate to different key user groups. The donation process required an overhaul due to inconsistent messaging and a rigid form experience—some users were landing on the donation page, but not taking any action, while others were known to donate many times, but were hesitant to become monthly donors. We also found that the taxonomy around different key animal issues and calls to action became confusing to their audiences. This went hand in hand with the work around the architecture and overall navigation, so the first action we took was simple labeling exercises with stakeholders and users to see if we could slim down the top-level navigation as much as possible, while also sending clearer messages that aligned with ASPCA's brand message.

Current State

Making Sense of the Current Architecture

My team and I began this journey by initially conducting several rounds of stakeholder interviews with education and resource teams, engagement teams, marketing, and executive leadership to better understand what their expectations and goals were for the site. We discovered a lack of communication between teams around content that fit ASPCA's strategic plan and in addition, there was no sense of curation. The site was also filled with legacy content, duplicates, and dead links. This was partially due to their current CMS platform becoming an obstacle that prevented content from posting in a timely manner, which was difficult to maintain internally.

Our Goals

Standardize Navigation

Create better pathways for users to find information and create standards for content to be deposited internally.

Improve Engagement

Expand and improve engagement surrounding donations and fundraising by creating ways to track progress and content that is relevant to the cause, while making active donors feel more appreciated and recognized.

Increase Visibility

Develop effective ways that show how donor money is used in support of key animal groups by exposing the outcomes. This led to a focus on the initiatives and goals in ASPCA's strategic plan, which was to increase pet adoption from shelters and strengthen animal protection under the law.

Better Donation Flows

Generate a feeling of sympathy and urgency through content to entice prospective donors and provide clear and easy pathways to donate.

User Insights

Interviews with Donors, Advocates and Fundraisers

While it was evident that ASPCA's website was outdated and needed some love, we wanted to collect more data on how long time users were accessing the site. We probed for the kind of content that draws them back, the drivers that lead them to give or hesitate to do so, and overall likes and dislikes of the current experience. We also took the opportunity to use eye-tracking software to validate a few of the pain points that they experienced on the site.

Defining Key User Groups

We developed personas for each of our key user groups based on information gathered from ten rounds of 60-minute interviews.


Measuring Current Site Performance

With the conversations from the user interviews fresh in our minds, we wanted to evaluate how other visitors are using the site and understand what their specific behaviors are. After requesting access to the ASPCA’s Google Analytics, we were able to view data including the channels visitors were coming from, the pages that were getting the most views, and top search results.

What We Found
  • 50% of traffic is from users looking for articles on pet care
  • 15% of traffic is related to donations
  • Organic search greatly outweighed both direct and paid searches
  • Top referrals were coming from Facebook
  • Many shelter seekers were accessing the NYC site by mistake

Competitive Landscape

Generate Ideas form Competing Organizations

A few of the big themes we found were that many of the competing organizations were aligning their primary navigation with their mission to help users understand what the problem is, what the solution is, and how they can help. Other themes were offering transparency around how different donation amounts were being used and communicating the benefits of becoming a monthly donor vs. a one-time donor.

Labeling Exercise

Trimming Down Top-Level Navigation

We pulled 5 users from our initial interviews and presented them with three possible navigation possibilities. We asked what they would expect to find behind each label and what combination felt the is most intuitive.

What we found

The combination of "Animals in Crisis”, “Our Response”, and “How You Can Help" was most intuitive to 3 out of 5 users, but "Key Issues" was the most accurate label and provided the least amount of confusion when users were prompted to explain what they thought it meant. Some users felt that "Our Work" suggested only work the ASPCA had done in the past—not future goals they were working towards.

Information Architecture

Using What We Learned to Improve Navigation

Utilizing the information gathered from the labeling exercise, we worked with the ASPCA to deliver the most effective labels for the new site architecture's top-level navigation. We began breaking down all of the existing areas and trimming the fat. A primary benefit of our top-level navigation solution was that it also translated well into the structure of each animal group. This would offer users of specific interests a more personally meaningful and consistent experience.


Wireframes and Visual Design

We began to build and test wireframes to validate that our navigation was aligning with the donor's journey and guiding visitors to key decision touchpoints throughout the website. I worked closely with the visual designer, Samantha Catoggio, to ensure that we deliver a unified and modern experience that aligned with the brand message.

The New Homepage

The goal of the new design was to elevate the issues of key animals in crisis, facilitate the communication of ASPCA objectives, and streamline pathways for visitors to take action.

Key Issues Page

We created contextual and personalized calls to action using emotive imagery and facts that triggered empathy and as a result, increased donations.

Team ASPCA Page

The new fundraiser page offered a way to track progress and view donations as they came in.

Donation Flows

The new donation form offered a more user-friendly experience and incentivized the benefits of becoming a monthly donor.

A Truly Responsive Experience


More Intuitive Site Navigation

Overall, users found the site to be much more intuitive—making it easier to source information that is important to them.

Easier Ways to Give

Users found the updated donation form easier to complete and the pathways to donate much easier to navigate. This ultimately helped improve their understanding of the advantages to becoming a monthly donor during the donation process.

Fundraising Made Simple

Sign-up and registration for fundraisers became more intuitive and streamlined. Fundraisers also ended up with a more efficient model to track their progress.