[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.
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.
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:
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.
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- Outdated information and hard to update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.