We’ve been working with Cameron Corda and his team at Patronage to optimize our MuckFest® MS event series website. In this newsletter article, we’ll look at the process we used to fine tune our registration process.

The way our online registration process is set up on the back end is technically complex, so we avoided doing much in the way of testing it previously. But online registration flow is such a crucial part of an event’s website experience, we knew we had to make it a priority. We wanted to create a user-friendly flow that was also simpler and more flexible to implement on the back end, so we could continue to run experiments on it in the future.

We started with the numbers to ground ourselves and see where we might improve. Some of our questions:

  • What was our current conversion rate?
  • Was there a difference between mobile and desktop experience?
  • Where in the registration process were people dropping off?
  • Were there any specific events that occurred more frequently than we expected?

Following up on the analytical research, we did some design research. What are others in the mud event space doing well? Are there other, unrelated websites we can learn from?

The third pillar of our research phase was to talk to users and find out what worked and what was confusing for them.

What we learned was that the largest drop-off was happening when we prompted people to log in. We also learned that people wanted it to be easier to find and join a team, and we needed to be clearer about the connection to fundraising for the National MS Society.

Our strategy was to:

  1. Shorten the form. Every question has a cost in terms of conversion, and over time we’d only increased what we asked of people. We took a hard look at what could we trim.
  2. Move the login to later in the process. If it was easier for people to get started and find their team, they might be less likely to drop off.
  3. Inject more of the MuckFest MS personality into the registration process. Registering for a race requires providing a lot of information, so we wanted to make the process fun, and reassure users along the way that this was a cause worth supporting.
  4. Improve the user experience of specific components like finding a team or setting your fundraising goal.

Wireframe Concept:


Actual Implementation:


In an ideal world, we’d be able to test these improvements one by one, but technical realities sometimes get in the way.

Since a perfect A/B test wasn’t possible, we went with the next best thing, comparing rates year over year. We designed and built our new registration form, then compared the conversion rate for our first two cities to see how we did.

After much calculation, we had our results. After all that work, you hope the results just pop off the chart, but we had:


Better, but not exactly the lift we were expecting.

As we looked a bit further, we found an explanation: Mobile traffic has always underperformed, and our mobile traffic was up greatly. Desktop user traffic was up 10 – 20% per city, while mobile was up 50 – 100%. Looking at the conversion rates by browser told the story:

Mobile Conversion


Desktop Conversion


That’s more like it, 6 basis points in Boston, and 9 in Philadelphia. If measured as a percentage improvement over 2015, the increase is 15.3% and 22.5% respectively.

Our next step is to improve mobile conversion. We’re excited by the prospect of incorporating features like social logon and think that will help.

About Cameron:
Cameron (@ccorda) is the Founder of Patronage, a web development studio focused on helping non-profits build and optimize web applications and sites. Previously Cameron has worked on the development of Whitehouse.gov, President Obama’s re-election website, and the It Gets Better Project.

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