Give with Ella will never be finished, it will change, grow and improve over time as I hear from the community of Ella users. This is where I'll document the impovements, the updates, the bug fixes and the major releases.
New look for charity profiles & added public perception scores
A pretty major overhaul of the charity profile page. Now, a charity's profile uses their predominant brand colour as the background, with their logo prominently presented. We wanted to set up profiles so that they a charity can have more of a sense of ownership over it. To do this, a profile page has minimal Ella branding. The goal here is to encourage charities to share their Ella profile, though it is of course experimental.
We're now crowdsourcing public perception of each charity!
Now when you visit a charity's profile page you can see a breakdown of what the public feels about the charity. You can add your own thoughts and experiences, helping others to decide where they would like to offer their support. We wrote more about this update in our Rating Charity Journal entry.
Improved layout for displaying Charity financial data
As I prepare to roll out some new features, I thought it was a good time to reassess whether or not the way we display charity financial data is actually useful to viewers. The conclusion was "it could be better".
The new layout shows a charities income and expenditure (for their most recent financial year) side-by-side, making it much easier to compare how the charity brought in money, and how that money was spent.
This opened up much more space to display historical income vs expenditure for the past 5 years, making the graph way easier to read.
It goes without saying that protecting your personal information and data is important, after all, a huge part of this site is based on data and transparency. So I wanted to make sure this site is completely transparent about the sorts of data it collects from you and how that data is used.
Added a consent gateway for EU visitors wanting to talk via Drift
Another GDPR update here, this time it's for users wanting to chat, give feedback or seek help via the Drift instant messenger you see in the bottom right corner of the site. Any visitor coming from an EU country is now asked to give permission for Ella to collect personal information like their name and email so that I can keep in touch with them if the conversation gets dropped, or needs to be picked up later.
Anonymise the IP address for site visitors
Like most websites, Ella uses Analytics software to help us understand where visitors to the site come from and how they are using the site. The benefit of this is that by analysing this information, it can help improve the site as we can see where any problems might be, and where more focus is needed.
On May 25th, GDPR comes into effect, meaning that new EU laws around personally identifiable information come in to play. This includes the collection of IP addresses. It's helpful for sites to collect a users IP address, as it helps websites to understand the demographics of their visitors better. However, under GDPR, right now at least, it's better for Ella to not collect this information. The change made today ensures that all IP addresses are anonymised.
Now showcasing 150 large and small charities
Ella now has 150 large and small charities on the site, each showcasing their financials in the open. Now you're probably thinking "150?! That's not much, there must be thousands of charities!" and you'd be right, there are many, many more. I'm adding charities slowly but surely in a way that I can ensure the quality of the platform, to make sure the charities are legitimate, active, and well presented. This takes time, but we'll get there. Here's to the next 150!
Added a Parallax and fade effect to Cause page headings
This one is just an aesthetic nice-to-have. I've just finished up building the Journal pages (launching soon) and opted for this effect there - so I thought I'd bring in the effect throughout the site.
Fixed issue with hero images not displaying
I noticed this problem where Hero images weren't loading if you visited a page and then refreshed your browser, or navigated away and returned to the same page. I'm looking to see if the image is fully loaded before displaying it, to prevent the staggered loading effect for those on a slow connection.
The problem comes when the image has been previously loaded and then cached by the browser, sounds silly because this is exactly what we want the browser to do, but what is happening is that the image is actually loading too fast for the event tracker, and so the load event doesn't fire.
I'm now looping through images to make sure they are loaded and if so, fire the load event and display the image.
Added an error message for when charity financial data could not be pulled
There I am plugging away, making little tweaks to Ella and BOOM! Suddenly no financial data is being shown for charities. My first thought was, "Whoops! Maybe I did something to break it?" But as it turns out, it wasn't me. I'm pulling charity financial data from a 3rd party API and displaying it on a charity's profile page, but when that API is down, nothing is returned and panic ensues.
I'm going to make improvements to this so that instead of relying on the API to serve the data, I'll check the API periodically for updates and store the values in a database. Then I'll serve the data from the database rather than the API - meaning that the site won't be affected if the API is down for any reason.
Until then, I added a data-not-found kitty, because cute.
Added Changelog page
This is kinda ironic huh? I added this Changelog page so that I can show what bug fixes, updates, improvements, and features have been released so far. It's also a place to show what updates and features are upcoming (that is, they're very nearly ready for release - just needing a couple of minor tweaks here and there).
Added 404 "Page not found" error template
Added a nice page to land on if you stumble upon a URL which leads to nowhere, rather than a ghastly server generated error. Plus, I've been looking for an excuse to use that image, so...
Added search for charities and causes
You can now search for a charity or cause. If the search term matches a cause directly you will be taken straight through to the cause page where you can learn about the cause and see the charities working in that area. If the search term matches a charity, the charity will be returned along with similar charities.
Added Drift messaging for easy user feedback
I wanted to find a way for visitors to the site to easily get in touch if they ever wanted to provide feedback about the site, ask questions, suggest features and improvements or even just say hello. Drift is one of the most frictionless ways of providing this.
Added the first 100 Charities
There are now 100 charities on the site. A nice mix of major, well-known charities, and smaller, lesser-known charities, all with financial histories.
Added Cause pages
Add individual cause pages. Each cause page is a place where you can learn more about a particular world issue, from the core problems to the actions charities are taking to find the solutions. It'll also show which charities are directly working on the issues.