Digital tools are transforming activism. At the click of a button, organizations and their supporters promote causes, share information, and raise money. And, with more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the US alone vying for your attention, the need for a memorable digital presence is increasingly important.
But, what makes an activism site truly stand out?
We analyzed the 2016 Webby Award Winners for Activism and identified the top trends driving successful online activism campaigns. The common threads were:
- Creating interactive experiences for visitors
- Utilizing intuitive and eye-catching graphics and infographics
- Putting engaging information at the forefront
Creating an Interactive User Experience
Interactivity is a very important component for successful activism campaigns online. The 2016 Webby Award & People’s Voice Winner for Activism, Rainforest Guardians, takes visitors on a colorful and animated journey through a virtual rainforest. Viewers can visit riverbanks, forests, and villages for a 3D panoramic view of the areas, all while learning about local cultures and ecosystems through video and photography.
By eliminating the physical, geographical, and cultural disconnect between people and causes, their site fosters a deeper relationship between visitors and the organization and creates a customized experience for visitors. Rather than using text and graphics to inform, photos and videos help users see first-hand the daily life and customs of native villagers, the habitat of orangutans or capybaras, and the effects of deforestation on the rainforest ecosystem.
Choose different paths – the forest, the natives, the riverbank – and discover the beauty of the rainforest from an insider perspective rather than as a distant onlooker.
Utilizing Infographics and Telling a Story
It could not be clearer what third runner up Beyond Prison’s mission is from the moment you land on the homepage. The site gives visitors enough time to digest this message above before leading them to the rest of the content.
The content is set up like a book or magazine; it has an index with a series of stories that are intended to guide the reader through the most pressing issues affecting our prison system. As the reader, you immediately know what to do.
The site uses animated infographics and other innovative types of media to tell the background story and justification for their cause.
Here, for example, they replaced what could have been a dull bar graph with a stack of iconic blue prison shirts next to a stack of fresh white button-ups. The stack of blue shirts increases, while the white shirts decrease, conveying a harsh statistical reality: “roughly two-thirds of all (U.S.) prisoners released will go back to prison within three years.”
This animated infographic shows the price of incarceration over individual prisoners’ heads as they walk by—the numbers rising rapidly as the prisoners amble along.
Visuals and data highlight Beyond Prison’s cause and add a level of personalization to their site that forces viewer attention and support. These stories humanize and highlight prisoners’ experiences, while the statistical facts bolster the cause.
MIPEX Brings Valuable Data to the Forefront
The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) website puts engaging information at the forefront. The site, which earned second place in the activism awards, is centered around the MIPEX tool, which assigns scores to countries based on their policy to integrate migrants. MIPEX gives government, researchers, and other interested parties the facts they need to make informed decisions regarding policy, practices, and standards.
Scores are displayed in a variety of ways on the site to encourage learning. An interactive map allows users to view countries geographically and compare their scores with those nearby. Click on “key findings” and you’ll find a variety of useful interactive infographics, including an interactive chart that gives visitors a simple list view of those countries with the “most favorable” migrant policies.
The site also gives visitors a history and analysis of the MIPEX score for context and clarification.
The Underlying Message
Every activist group must clearly answer these questions, while keeping supporters’ interested:
- What is being advocated, and why?
- What are the organization’s beliefs?
- What are their goals?
Information is often the most critical and persuasive component for these sites, yet many sites don’t take into consideration the importance of using data to tell a story. Using infographics, creating interactive experiences, and incorporating unique visual elements that evoke emotion while appealing to people’s rational side drives successful digital story telling, and makes advocacy websites work.