Web Design by Donor Organizations for Low Bandwidth

This page provides donor organizations with key principles and recommendations for designing their websites to promote access to their grant information to nongovernmental organizations that exist in low bandwidth environments.

This Page Includes:

Why It Is Important to Build Low Bandwidth Accessible Sites

Imagine you are working in an NGO in remote Africa. Your connection comes and goes at the drop of a hat. When it goes, it can last a few seconds, a few hours, or even days. On your best day you are pulling 20kbps, and all you want to do is find funding without having to spend an entire day looking at one donor’s website just to find the basic information you need. You find a site, only it’s laid out in a way so that it is difficult to World Internet Subscribers by Regionglean what the organization does, what kind of information to expect from the site, and whether or not the information is still current. You have to click a lot of links to find granting information. Once you do, the grant applications are 1MB in size and will take forever and a day to download. Suddenly, your NGO is no longer just trying to obtain much needed granting information, and overcome Internet access problems, it’s starting to wonder if the donor’s heart is even in the right place, with all the barriers to entry that donor is creating for the NGO. That is why it is absolutely vital that donor organizations, whose target audience includes NGOs in developing countries, make a concerted commitment to implementing as many of these recommendations for low bandwidth web design as possible. (See more...)

Common Frustrations When Using Sites Difficult to Use in Low Bandwidth Settings

Specific Components of Granting Information That Are Likely to Be Most Important to An NGO

Key Principles for Conceiving Web Pages for Low Bandwidth

Key Recommendations for Designing Web Pages for Low Bandwidth

Examination of a Sample of Current Donor Organization Sites

Many major donor organizations are guilty of practices that make it challenging to view their websites in low bandwidth environments. Of course, it would be unfair to nitpick every last detail, since it is unlikely that a truly perfect website even exists. It’s not their fault there is low bandwidth in the world, and they are, at least ostensibly, trying to help make the world a better place. Thus, this examination is not intended to demonize these organizations. Instead, it is meant to offer a look at how optimal some of the sites of major donors are for low bandwidth environments, and see who might need to make improvements. Included in this sample of current donor sites are Carnegie Council of New York, European Commission, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and International Renaissance Foundation, with my findings detailed in the tables and screen shots (See more...)

Strengths and Weaknesses of Disseminating Grant Information Via the Internet

Certainly, there are many strengths in utilizing Internet technology for disseminating grant information. First, it is a relatively cheap way for donor organizations to make information on their funding programs accessible. As stated before, imagine the cost of trying to disseminate funding information via TV or radio, through mass mailings, or by sending representatives door to door? A big part of this is because a website is a pull technology, which means the donor is only paying for those who actually seek the information. With TV, radio, mail, and door to door “sales”, a donor must pay for a lot of “eyeballs” that aren’t interested in order to find the smaller percentage that actually are. And, in order to pull, all a grantee needs is an Internet connection, and it can most likely gain access to funding information—especially when donor sites are built with low bandwidth in mind. (See more...)

Recommended Resources for Low Bandwidth Web Design

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"Web Design by Donor Organizations for Low Bandwidth" pages researched and produced by Ben Colmery, Fall 2008.

The first image is the property of Research Reinvented
The second image is the property of the International Telecommunications Union