Helping MSF Overcome usability problems in order to achieve an easier and more effective customer experience

MSF is a major international charity that delivers emergency medical aid to people excluded from healthcare or affected by conflict, epidemics or disasters.

Our work gave MSF the evidence it needed to make changes to its site labelling and navigation with confidence. Visitors will be able to find content more easily and complete their goals more effectively.


Because the majority of MSF’s income comes from private donors the donating and fundraising section of its website is critical. MSF wanted to understand if visitors could find content within this section, currently titled “Support Us”. Then they asked us to test out some of their ideas for improving the section.


1) To assess whether content was findable we conducted a tree test. Typical users were asked to find, for example, how to leave a legacy to MSF in their will. Participants used a simplified version of the website’s navigation to browse to the target whilst the system recorded their path.

Results confirmed that not all visitors understood all the section labels. Further, some section titles conceptually overlapped and left users confused as to which could contain their goal. Finally, some goals required that users piece together content from different subsections: a poor user journey that some could not manage.

2) Next, to probe why people behaved as they did we conducted a website usability study. Conducted both in-person and over Skype this study asked typical users to complete tasks on the live website.

We understood participants’ thoughts and feelings by asking them to think aloud, and by carefully observing their behaviour we were able to identify usability problems within the section. For example, we found that potential legacy donors were not interested in donating to help a specific event, such as the recent ebola outbreak, but rather wanted their money to be invested in something for the long-term.

“Rob has a wealth of knowledge in fields of user experience and information architecture. With their guidance were able to get real insight into how our supporters navigate through our website and where they may be encountering problems”

Médecins Sans Frontières