- This study reports on work undertaken to ascertain how advances in medical research, funded by the charity Meningitis UK, could more effectively be communicated to donors through the charity's website to increase user engagement and future support. Current best practice in research communication through UK charities' websites was determined by a content analysis. It was found that most charities do not make full use of the opportunities the internet provides. The views and needs of website users were examined through an online survey and series of interviews. Supporters of Meningitis UK reported that features such as a glossary of terms, a vaccination summary and videos would greatly enhance the website. These results were used to inform the redevelopment of the charity's research website, which included the creation of a meningitis research timeline, vaccine game and glossary of terms along with video interviews with researchers who receive funding from Meningitis UK. The redeveloped section of the website was evaluated through a second online survey, showing significant improvements in user ratings for navigation, understanding, engagement and content. This study adds to the understanding of current practice in online research communication by UK charities which often have to communicate complex scientific issues. It also provides valuable insight into the views and expectations of website users and charity supporters, and shows how small changes in a charity's website design and content can have a significant impact on user satisfaction.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.