Time spent (minutes per month) on websites was down across all industries in the U.S. in 2016, according to an Adobe report. “Despite time spent being down, visit rates are up 4% year-over-year across all industries,” CMO Adobe wrote. This makes sense. The simpler, faster and more convenient you make your website, the more likely a customer/donor is to come back.

‘Time spent’ and ‘pages viewed’ are lousy and dangerous metrics. (See Agitator Vanity Metrics.) They reflect the cult of the old volume approach that has dominated web management thinking (not to mention direct mail thinking) for too long.

Websites that folks have to use (the DMV site for renewal of a driver’s license or a technical support site) can have high ‘time spent’ and ‘pages viewed’  — but these metrics simply reflect dreadful design and management.

Make no mistake. The most successful companies and nonprofits have optimized the design and management of their sites to save donors and consumers time. In our ‘always-on’ world we ignore the donors’ need for speed and convenience at our peril.

Sure, traditional marketers and communications folks are trained to get the attention of potential donors. But this is the wrong focus, wrong priority at a time when donors are jumping ship and switching causes in near epidemic proportions.

Rather than spend unnecessary time and expense in trying to attract donors we don’t have, we’d be better off paying attention to the donors and frequent visitors to our websites — and provide them quick and easy access to the information they want.

Note: Quick and easy access to the information the donor and frequent visitor wants. Not what we think they should have.

What job are frequent visitors hiring our website to do? What job are donors hiring our website to do? The path to poor performance is paved with trying to force your organization’s perception of itself onto donors. (See Agitator Milkshake Mistakes.)

I suspect that very few organizations can honestly answer those questions because only a few organizations bother to survey their site’s donors and frequent visitors to find out what top tasks they want the website to perform.

I guarantee that DONATE is not a top task. (Unless you’re driving folks to the site with special landing pages.) Yet site, after site, after countless sites have the ‘Donate’ button plastered right there on the front page.

If the organization is a health charity chances are that both donors and frequent visitors are using the site to get answers to questions, to solve problems, seek support. And then, having done that they may respond to the ‘Donate’ button.

So, think about removing the ‘Donate’ button from your homepage and lots of other places on your site — UNLESS you know for sure that users of your website are hiring it to make their job of giving money easier.

Of course, I’m over-simplifying. I’m not recommending a wholesale deletion of ‘Donate’ buttons.  What I am recommending is that we all need to be devoting more time, energy and resources in understand why the ‘best’ of visitors (donors and frequent users) to our websites are coming there.

I urge you to read an earlier Agitator post — How To Make Your Website a Fundraising Winner — for a terrific case study of the process the Norwegian Cancer Society followed to re-design their website. Apart from noting the 250% increase in revenue and a 90% increase in monthly giving, the most fundamentally important point is the time and study the organization invested in finding out what top task visitors wanted the site to perform.

AND PLEASE … also pay attention to the Comments to this post from Agitator readers.

Isn’t it time your organization undertook a serious study of what Top Tasks your donors and frequent visitors would like your site to perform?