Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Websites should be visually appealing, not distracting. It is probably worthwhile to keep your site looking fresh by taking a serious look at it every 5-7 years so that it doesn’t become stagnant or dated. Just as fashions come and go, so do website designs, color schemes, and technology. For example, at one point in time, most agencies used hand written applications. They felt that seeing a donor’s handwriting helped intended parents to form an impression of the donor. Today, hand written applications tend to make an agency’s site look small-time and unprofessional. Intended parents are far more sophisticated then you may realize. They have the opportunity to see numerous sites and as a result, they may worry when they see an outdated website. To them, it is a representation of a small mom and pop shop business. Even if you are a small agency working from home, which is how many agencies operate, you can present yourself as bigger than you are simply by having a fresh looking, updated site. It definitely makes a difference in how intended parents perceive your agency; I know because I hear their comments.
If you have more than 50 egg donors, you should have a filter to allow intended parents to find what they need quickly, without having to scroll through all of your donors. My favorite filters are those that allow the intended parents (and me) the ability to choose more than one option for each search requirement, i.e. eye color or hair color, by holding down the control key. I find that most intended parents are open to a range of eye colors and hair colors and having to search each possible combination separately can be very time consuming. The same holds true for ethnic heritage. Some Asian couples may only want to see Chinese donors, while others may be open to Japanese and Korean as well. Though lumping all Asian donors into Asian may be effective for the agency, it is definitely too broad a category and should list the donor’s specific heritage not just her race. Some of my favorite filter options are:
•Minimum Education = or < (College degree, Masters, PhD etc.)
•Hair color – Blond, Light Brown, Med. Brown, Black, Red (hold down control to choose more than one)
•Eye color – (hold down control to choose more than one)
•Repeat Donor (yes/no)
•Available (please, don’t show me who is in cycle)
•Race – Asian, African American, Middle Eastern, Caucasian, East Indian
•Ethnic Heritage – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Irish, French, German, Persian, etc. (hold down control to choose more than one)
•Academic Achievers – (Only donors who meet the following criteria belong in this group: GPA of 3.0 and up in college, SAT over 1250 on old SAT over 1700 on new SAT, ACT of over 27, Masters level or better)
Don’t make it difficult for intended parents to see full profiles. If they have to contact you to get a full profile, they may just move on to the next site that allows them direct access. You must have pretty amazing donors, either visually or academically, for intended parents to want to contact you for full profiles. And chances are that you are missing out on possible matches by making them jump through hoops to see a full profile. Some agencies feel they are protecting their donors, but in most cases, the site is already password protected. Those who have requested passwords are usually serious about finding a match.
The most important way to improve your site is to have really great donors. Make sure they complete their profiles, and stay in touch with your donors so that you aren’t surprised if they have moved, changed their mind, or are in cycle with another agency. Your donors will feel more committed to your program, and you will be more on top of their availability to cycle if you stay in touch. There is nothing worse than having an intended parent express interest in a donor only to find that you can’t locate her. Young women move frequently and don’t always update you with their new contact info. Staying in touch with your donors can also help you to keep your site looking fresh by adding current photos. Some agencies are good at rotating donor photos and posting new pictures, which can bring new attention to the donor and possibly a new match for you.
Think of your site as a storefront. You want to keep it looking clean, fresh, and interesting. Pay attention to details and make sure the donors’ profiles are complete. If a donor ages out, remove her from your site. Very few intended parents are comfortable choosing egg donors over the age of 30, particularly if she is not a previous donor and has no children of her own. It is far better to have a site with 50 great donors than a site with 1,000 so-so donors.