The /firstpayment experience

I signed up to sponsor a child through Compassion International at a conference last weekend, and yesterday made it official by sending in my first payment. I had my check book out reluctantly. “Reluctantly” because I was hoping for an online option. Even with the Business Reply postage prepaid envelope, I still prefer taking care of everything through a website.

Then as I was about to write out the check, I noticed a small url at the bottom of the page. I’m guessing most people wouldn’t see it. But I went ahead and went to http://compassion.com/firstpayment.

Usability score: B+

I was able to complete my transaction quickly, but ran into a small issue in that I could not sign up for a monthly EFT checking account transfer. Other details of the process I wanted to note are…

A+: Landing page gets right down to business

Obviously you don’t go to this url to browse around, so Compassion made it very easy to get started. I just had to enter my sponsor child’s name, number, and source code. All of this info was on the blue sheet in my packet, which I would have had to include with my check if I mailed in my first payment.

A+: Landing page examples were helpful

The landing page had helpful examples in text and image formats for each of the “user-foreign” terms that would be new and potentially confusing to a first time sponsor like myself: Child Name, Child Number, Source Code.

B-: Landing page form fields format a bit off

The form has 3 text boxes for Child Number, which didn’t match the printed data on blue Acceptance Form sheet where it is printed all together (no spaces). To make matters a bit worse, after I type the first 2 characters (e.g.: “KE”) into the first box, I could not type anymore into the first text box even though I can see more room to the right of the “E” in that textbox.


spaces: the data format on the printed sheet and this form do not match

I would recommend either printing the child number with spaces on the blue Acceptance Form sheet, just like the example below the 3 text boxes.

If that is not an option with their printer, they could change the web form by adding some javascript that automatically moves the cursor to the next text box where I am supposed to type the first 3 digits of the Child Number. This javascript niceness would need to be repeated to move the cursor to the third box for the last 4 digits in the Child Number. This would allow me to type the 9 character Child Number without having to be confused by the 3 text boxes.

B-: Step 2 page confirms child’s number but uses a generic logo for his photo

Since the main motivating factor of child sponsorship is putting a face with the need, when a user visually verifies the child’s data they entered in Step 1 of the process, the child’s photo should always be part of the top of the form — instead of generic Compassion logo.


most donors would like to visually verify by seeing child’s photo

A+: Able to complete the data entry task on one page

Kudos to Compassion for presenting an user interface where I can enter all the rest of the info (name, monthly commitment, payment info) all on one page. Also, the form is attractively and intuitively laid out on the page.

C: No EFT option

Under method of payment, there is only one option: by credit card. I wish there would be a way to set up a Electronic Funds Transaction (EFT) monthly payment. The reason for this is because if I use a credit card, each month part of my donation goes to transaction fees. But, if I set up an EFT monthly debit from a checking account, there is only a one time set up fee. Over the course of 1-2 or even 5-10 years this is a better use of the funds that are sent each month.

A: Comments box

I was given the option to send a comment with my transaction. I like that. So, I commented on the lack of an EFT option and that I’d like to move to EFT giving in the future. Hopefully they will contact me to set that up before next month.

A+: Thank you page had a “thank you” video from the kids

I know this sounds quite cheesy, but after committing to sponsor a child each month for the foreseeable future, it was a really nice touch to see and hear children from all over the world saying, “thank you” and “I love you, sponsor.” A really nice touch was the mistakes and “out-takes” being part of the video. In a way that only children can do, the “out-takes” keep the video from becoming too polished and appear manufactured, even though that is exactly what a “thank you” video really is, right? Overall, I found myself feeling really glad that I had just signed up for this.

Watch the video below:

Let me know what you think of it as an initial “thank you” response to someone’s generosity.

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~ by Bill on February 24, 2010.

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