RelevantView, a provider of web-based market research solutions, has conducted an interesting study of visitor reactions to the websites of current presidential candidates. Specifically, they were looking at how well the sites communicated the candidates’ positions on key issues like Iraq, health care, taxes, and immigration.

Only respondents self-identified as Republicans or Independents reviewed Republican candidates’ sites; only respondents self-identifed as Dems or Independents reviewed Democratic candidates’ sites.

Some highlights:

  • Obama, Huckabee and Paul websites were found to be clearer and more informative on these issues as compared to Clinton and McCain sites.
  • Reviewers aligned more with Huckabee and Paul after visiting their sites … in other words, they found the issue info they were looking for, and it made them feel more positive toward the candidate.
  • The Clinton and McCain sites were least effective at increasing these candidates’ favorability after reviewers had visited them.

But I’m more interested in the research methodology here than the findings on candidates. Because I think nonprofits could use the approach to evaluate their own websites … especially in comparison to the “competition.”

RelevantView first asked their sample some questions about the candidates’ positions on key issues. Then they “assigned” each respondent a single candidate’s website to visit, specifically to search out pertinent issue information. Then they asked the “reviewer” whether they found that info (as well as other questions about the site’s effectiveness) and whether it made them more favorable toward the candidate or not.

I could see a nonprofit asking its members/donors a series of benchmark questions about, for example, its strategies, programs and achievements. Then asking these folks to find pertinent info on the org’s website (as well as the same info on the sites of a competitor or two), and then querying them on the experience. At the end of the process, how did the websites rate comparatively? How did perceptions change toward the various organization? Etc.

Would your nonprofit’s website score well in such a comparative review?

Tom

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