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Life-giving design: how a new website busted myths and addressed misunderstandings about organ donation

Sadly, there’s a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there about many aspects of giving and receiving organs. And naturally, it’s an area where emotion can cloud the realities. So, a new website for Organ Donation New Zealand created by Insight Creative was built upon a determination to educate and help people make informed decisions. 

Organ Donation’s (ODNZ) new website is a vital tool to educate and to provide the facts and stories to dispel the myths and help people make informed decisions. One thing this site was not, was any form of an advocate for or against organ donation. ODNZ’s firmly held view is that its role is not to promote or influence the decision whether or not to donate – it's purely to provide the right information to help people with that decision.

Organ Donation responsive website on smartphone sample pages

It was therefore critical that the entire tone and content of the site was as a source of facts and the one voice in the organ donation landscape that was expert, neutral, science-based and authoritative. But the site also needed a strongly empathetic human dimension, conveying real life experiences in the words of the donors, recipients and medical professionals involved.

Organ Donation website authentic stories from the heart

Having worked with Organ Donation New Zealand (ODNZ) since 2005, Insight Creative had a very good understanding of the topic and the politics and communication challenges surrounding it. The opportunity to re-think the website from scratch enabled it to take a very user-centric approach to ensure a very different experience from the existing site, which was awkward to navigate, difficult for finding information, short of optimal content and lacking the important human and emotional connection.

The brief was to correct these legacy issues, prepare engaging content, identify audience groups and provide clear and direct user journeys for each. From ODNZ’s perspective, a user-friendly content management system was critical. And, of course, the site needed to be responsive to be relevant in a world where over 50 percent of website visits are now accessed from mobile devices.

Organ Donation website

An initial comprehensive workshop explored the obvious things like identification of audience groupings and what sort of content each was seeking. But Insight Creative also explored human sensitivity issues like making donor decisions at the time of a loved one’s sudden death, how that loved one was being cared for in their dying hours in light of any decision to donate organs or tissue, religious and cultural views, misunderstandings, and dispelling commonly held myths.

The architecture is audience-led, with each section characterised by two content approaches.

First, the direct audience stories – a transplant recipient whose life has changed, a family member who made the decision about a loved one and an intensive care clinician who deals with families every day – delivered in a highly-charged, emotive way. Video was utilised to tell these real stories despite the somewhat harrowing topic and it elected to shoot some short videos of these people telling their stories for three communication-effectiveness reasons: it is easier for the viewer to engage with their story, the raw emotion of the decision is much clearer and instructional, and usability trends clearly show that audience expectations were very video-focused.

The second content approach was to underpin individual people stories with ODNZ’s factual content. 

The chosen colour palette adds to the emotional feel, especially when applied over profile photos, providing an overall calmness and sense of optimism. The typography further reinforces the personal tone and that was enhanced further by animating the headline copy so that it rolls onto the page as if the user is being spoken to.

Organ Donation website call to action

Given that the purpose of the site was not to influence a decision in a particular direction, no ‘call to action’ was required by ODNZ. But there was a big social media opportunity so Insight encouraged the client to consider providing tools to help people work through their feelings and open a dialogue with their family. The more families can have these conversations openly, before any need arises, the more prepared they can be to make easier decisions at a traumatic time. And so, the ‘Have the conversation today’ page was added, with useful guidance materials for people to download to aid family discussions.

In the first six months of the site's relaunch, homepage visits were up over 30 percent on the year previous, total page views were up over 20 percent, time spent on the site increased by over 60 percent and bounce rates had dropped by 30 percent.

  • To see how Insight Creative's strategic brand and marketing communications can accelerate your business, visit www.insightcreative.co.nz.