The Chesapeake Bay Foundation needed a visually stunning website that served to drive education about their mission and goals, prompt action from site visitors, and increase online donation conversions.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is saving the Bay through education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration. By updating their website both visually and architecturally, Blackbaud Interactive was able to help increase their unique page views, decrease bounce rate, and vastly improve online donation transactions and revenue.

Phase 1: Initial Discovery

We began by working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to identify the top five high-priority website redesign goals and the target audiences we needed to reach. A comprehensive audit of their existing site was also performed. All information collected during the discovery phase was categorized, ranked in terms of priority, and further analyzed. This provided a quantitative look at what we learned and where energy and resources should be focused as we moved forward.

CBF’s top five goals included increasing revenue, advocacy and member engagement, as well as educating site visitors and supporting their education program. Four principal audience segments were identified –concerned citizens, business-oriented visitors, current constituents, and revenue resources. Urgent needs included ongoing website optimization, management of increased content and improved user navigation.

4 CBF Mobile

Milestone: Launch of Mobile Web Presence

To coincide with the launch of the new home page, we established a visually striking mobile website. As a result, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation experienced a 57% increase in mobile traffic, a 6% decrease in the mobile bounce rate, and 20% more pages viewed per visit.

Phase 2: User Research

Usability testing was conducted with more than 140 environmentally-minded volunteers to see how easy it was to make a donation on the original website. Less than 53% of the participants were able to succeed on the first try.

Over thirty volunteers and staff members participated in a focus group. We used a card sorting technique to gain both qualitative and quantitative insights into how users instinctively group content and navigate through the site.

Phase 3: Information Architecture

We needed to accommodate the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s expanding content library within an uncluttered framework with intuitive navigation. Using our inventory and research, we developed a new site map from the ground up to make information easier to find, and to allow users to easily accomplish tasks critical to the organization’s mission.

We then ran a series of remote usability tests to validate our new information architecture. This approach allowed us to quickly optimize the new structure before proceeding with design. For example, we were able to iterate the “Make a Donation” pathway until the target conversion rate was achieved.

5 CBF Usability Test
6 CBF Usability Test

Results of the 5-Second Usability test and a Heat map showing the Click test results on the newly designed home page.

Phase 4: Visual Design

Blackbaud Interactive worked to provide an innovative and dynamic visual design with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s top goals in mind. We customized their home page with a prominent slide show featuring stunning visuals linked to upcoming events or calls to action.

We created a tabbed panel so that users could navigate easily according to their interests and explore news releases, upcoming events, blog entries, and twitter feeds. An interactive map enables users to learn about important Chesapeake Bay Foundation locations. Opportunities to engage via donation, registration, social media, shopping and other actions are strategically placed on each page. Imagery showing dramatic environmental and community impact were also incorporated to ignite action from website visitors.

Phase 5: Website Build

Blackbaud Interactive successfully migrated over 2,000 pages to the new website. Our content strategy was also used to streamline content and pathways for site visitors, with a focus on building effective conversion paths based on our research and usability testing.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s timeline of the bay.

An expandable and collapsible timeline located on the home page highlights environmental and community impact over the decades.

Milestone: Launch of the New Website

The new website launched to overwhelmingly positive feedback. Our metrics confirm success in higher conversion rates, increased interaction among top constituent segments, and in providing easier accessibility to goal-related information. Users responded with a decreased bounce rate (-8.23%) and an increase in page views (+25.22%).

Page views
increased 25%

Organization Type



Content Strategy
Information Architecture
Mobile Design
Search Engine Optimization
User Research
Usability Testing
User Experience Design
Visual Design/Redesign