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Australian Oxfam Website – Colourful and friendly

Tue, Aug 21, 2007

Best of the web, Education & Society | Author:

www.oxfam.org.au

Introduction

Oxfam.Org.AU the Australian website of Oxfam International is a well designed and up to date information portal combining the many services and activities across Asia and Indigenous Australia, to overcome poverty and injustice. OXFAM stands for OXford Committee for FAMine Relief founded in England in 1942.

Form

The site displays a simplistic design using soft greens with 2 or three shades variations. The design and logo are reproduced from the parent organization Oxfam.org, since it is the Australian branch. The logo is white on green, very symbolic, could resemble two hands holding food or something similar. Since this is an aid organization I did not expect grand design, and truely the minimalistic approach works well and reflects the core values of the organization – to help, and not to waste resources.

The bright colours and full smiles of the children in the main photograph reflect the objective of Oxfam, to touch people in need, and warm their souls, to light up their world. There are more images of Oxfam volunteers on site at one of the many aid projects in Asia.

The horizontal top navigation bar is followed by the feature article with the focal image and then a four column design to list current projects and future events such as the Sydney TrailWalker. Follow the link and you come to a separate fresh and attractive promotional website for the walk. It’s good to find high quality deep links backed by a wealth of information on your site. Follow another link and you get to the non-feature simple information pages containing topbar, 2 columns, left navigation, right the body with a head image then the text. The opener image helps well to break up the text flood that follows. However the following text is again broken up well with frequent subheaders in shiny light green font.

Design is nice, easy on the eyes, I would only change a few minor points:

1. The font seems to crumble a bit on my screen, even though I use a high end 1024 screen, it may be the result of a too ambitious css stylesheet scheme. It is just not very sharp.
2. Cramping the site into 780 px wide container may work for smaller screen resolutions, but with more flat screens around that use 1280 and higher, the site will look very narrow on those screens. I would either bring the fixed size up to 980 px or have it flexible adjusting up to 1100 px even.

The site holds a vast amount of information (in access of 500 pages, that’s were my sitemap crawler stopped). The pages are well catalogued, structured and navigatable. For example the first button ‘Programs’ leads to various maps and submaps, then the body of each progam in detail. As maintained through the whole site, head images help to break up lots of text and paragraphs. Other main content is ‘Campaigns’, ‘Donate’ and ‘Get Active’, just the sort of pages I am looking for when visiting a charity website.

Follow the ‘Donate Now’ link and reach an online payment gateway that accepts credit card payments. That’s convenient. My advise would be to make the ‘Donate Now’ button more prominent on the home page. Loading times are good since the content is optimised graphics, CSS colour, text and some images.

Function

4 tiered, well designed navigation structure makes it easy to find anything you need, from topbar horizontal navigation bar, (1) to left hand sub navigation menu (2), then sub-sub navigation in the head image (3) to links spread over the body text and subimages (4).

The News page is my only point of concern – it is overwhelming and confusing. Use of that larger shiny green subheader font would help the structure there.

There are lots of ‘Calls to Action’, such as ‘Make a Donation’, ‘Buy Fairtrade Coffee’, ‘Sponsor a Team’. Calls to action are one of the most thought after ingredient in online marketing.

Any website optimsation strategy needs to direct traffic onto pages that are not just plain text and information, but contain calls to do something, either buy a product, book a consultation or like here, ‘Sponsor a Team’. The copy writing team at Oxfam appears to be well aware of this. Offer information and aim at getting a result.

Conclusion

Overall we are looking at one of the better charity websites I have seen. We learn about the many facetes of charity business, have many online opportunities to get involved, and the visual experience invites you to extent your stay for more than just page one or two. If you are looking at getting involved fighting injustice and poverty, this may become your favourite portal. It certainly has for me.


Sitecritic.net award

www.oxfam.org.au.1
fig 1. Sydney TrailWalker

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fig 2. Content presentation

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fig 3. Asian Region OXFAM Groups

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fig 4. Navigation 4 tiered

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