Research Shows Social Services Websites Not Meeting the Public's Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

Social Services Websites Falter in the Face of the Pandemic

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​trellyz, creator of the LifeSpots and RefAid apps, announced today the findings from the company’s latest research, “Digital Fails to Meet its Promise in Crisis: Social Services Websites Falter in the Face of the Pandemic.” The study exposes holes in the content and user experience of 75 Silicon Valley public and non-profit websites during the COVID-19 crisis that lead to unintentional roadblocks to key service information.

The report identifies opportunities for public and non-profit social service providers to improve the delivery of critical information in a time when people have never needed more help finding resources – housing, ways to pay their utility bills, food banks, mental health and addiction counseling, educational resources, and access to healthcare. COVID-19 has only amplified the challenges governments and their nonprofit partners face in meeting the needs of their residents coping with disparities.

“People need help now, and it’s almost impossible to find it, and information is a basic human right. With offices shuttered, websites are the only way to provide people with equal access to information,” said Shelley Taylor, Founder & CEO of trellyz. "Silicon Valley blew it. Sure, Elon Musk is determined to get us to the moon. But what good is the moon if we can’t even help people who have lost their jobs find their local food bank?"


Best Practice Examples

  • The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center website shows all current service availability, in light of COVID, directly on its homepage.
  • The City and County of San Francisco website shows their primary services available to beneficiaries on its homepage.
  • The Contra Costa Crisis Center website provides access to phone and text help at the top of its homepage.

Where social services provider websites come up short

  • Most (65%) of the sites analyzed failed to state what services they were offering during the lockdown or during the COVID pandemic fallout.
  • Only 21% of the full sample had an obvious help or advice line on their home page, and only 35% had their email.
  • Only 23% of nonprofits have content in languages in addition to English, although 27% of Californians are foreign-born and 44% speak Spanish.
  • City and county sites tended to have longer paths to key categories of information than nonprofits, with many placing key information as many as four clicks away from the homepage.
  • Only 41% focused on people in need as their, their primary audience, while 23% geared their content towards soliciting donations
  • Almost all nonprofit websites analyzed had appeals for donations on their homepage but only 36% of their home pages focused on beneficiaries/members of the public; and a full 30% of the nonprofit sites focused largely or primarily on donors.


The sample includes 75 Bay Area websites – those of 56 nonprofits, nine Bay Area counties and 10 of the largest cities. Sites were analyzed between June 8 and June 19 according to more than 25 criteria which included: whether there was COVID specific service availability, types of content, categories of services available, the stakeholder focus on the Homepage, the number of clicks to get to key information about services available, and languages available.

About trellyz:

trellyz, the creator of the LifeSpots and RefAid apps, offers the world’s first integrated social service data mapping, collaboration, communication, and coordination platform for use by the public sector and nonprofits. Shelley Taylor, the author of the research, is known for having created the world's first user interface “bible” in Palo Alto in the 1990s. The LifeSpots mobile app helps the public find services they need nearest to them when and where they need it.

Media Contact:
Shelley Taylor, CEO, trellyz
Phone: 650 770 5610

Source: trellyz


Categories: Non Profit

Tags: COVID-19, homelessness, nonprofits

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