Relaunching Your Church Website: Why Do We Have This Thing Again?

relaunching1

[This is part 1 of the “Relaunching Your Church Website” series, click here to view all posts]

Over the last week it seems like you’re not cool unless you are relaunching your site. Elevation Church, Igniter Media, Story Conference, and my home church, all relaunched their sites. You can check out ours here, I am pretty proud of it.

This is not a quick process, and takes time and planning to do it right, so in this series of posts I want to share my experience and hopefully it will kick-start a conversation in your church/team.

Disclaimer:

My job is split between, middle school ministry, music, graphic design, web development, live production and whatever else is currently catching my attention. I do not claim to be an expert web developer or have all the answers, but I know enough to be dangerous and I hope you can learn from my experience.

Getting Started

Like most projects, I think it is very important to asses why you have a website and what goal you are trying to accomplish with it. Usually this involves seeing where you are currently and figuring out:

  • Where are we at?
  • What works?
  • What is broken that needs to be fixed?
  • What needs to be added?

This is what it looked like for us:

Orginal Website iamMarked.com

Original Website iamMarked.com


Where are we at?

For the past 5-6 years we have 2 sites, iAmMarked.com, a front door from people who want more information about our church and WeAreMarked.com a living room for our faith family to find day-to-day information. My school background was in flash development (don’t hate me this was prior to the iPhone and smartphone revolution when flash was still cool) so both of these sites were built 100% in flash with no HTML fallback.

What Works?

Our iAmMarked.com site was cool looking, it even made it onto a ChurchRelevance.com list of innovative websites in 2007 when our church had less than 300 people, and just a month ago I still got emails and complements on how cool the site was. So that was our plus, our only plus.

What is broken that needs to be fixed?

There were many things broken but let me list a few.

  • 2 sites = great idea, but leads to confusion for a small church. Works for Hillsong, but not for us.
  • All flash = no mobile or tablet support
  • Outdated information and hard to update

What needs to be added?

  • Mobile Web usability
  • Easier way to update and add new features
  • Social sharing / integration
  • Focus on fresh content, no one likes month old websites

What do you want to accomplish?

So after all of that I still have to answer the most important question: What are we trying to accomplish? We didn’t (but should have) write out a mission statement for the site/relaunch, but if we would have it would be along these lines:

We want to Engage our faith family in their digital lives and provide answers for people looking for more information about our church. This information should be easy to find and use on desktop, tablets and smart phones.

Try keep this short and to the point, if your mission sounds to all-encompassing, then most likely the propose of your site will be just and unclear.

Give yourself the test

Even if your not planning on doing a website redesign, I encourage you to go through this process to see if you were you are and help you define the purpose of your site.

Let me know your thoughts, and I look forward to sharing the next step in the process where we developing a content strategy that fits your church.

More from this series:

4 Responses

02.18.13

Great job on your church's site. Did you use wordpress and if you did, did you design the layout or is it a template?

02.18.13

Brad great job! I really appreciate your ministry. I noticed you don't employ any media player on the site for audio playback, download or onsite video navigation. Is that by design and philosophy, or a function yet to come? I'm working on a complete redesign to our site at http://www.gracehollister.org/ and want to simplify the content and also wonder about the complexity of the available media.

In your article you mentioned "What do 99.99% of churches create each week? Teaching content. So the biggest way we can keep our site fresh and updated is by featuring our message content and making it last longer than a Sunday morning. I ended up creating a custom plugin for this that I will talk about in a later post."

I guess I'm wondering if I need all this http://www.gracehollister.org/grace-resources/ser… , should I reduce the volume, or find a good extension to better manage the media.

Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Thanks Brother!

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