As end of summer nears, the inevitability of the launch of a new ministry becomes more of a reality. As your staff prepares for a new sermon series, giving campaign, or future big events, it's important that you ready your church website, and its content, for the renewed attention it is sure to r
Here are five church website content tasks you should complete before embarking on a new ministry year.
1. Check current content for accuracy
A visitor to your website has a question about your ministry, so they send an e-mail to the address listed on your Contact Us firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, you recently changed your contact e-mail to email@example.com. They instantly receive a bounce-back error message. Frustrated, they dial the phone number listed on your site, only to hear a "no longer in service" message, not knowing you changed your phone number a few weeks prior. They irately hang-up and give up. You've lost that person forever.
Now you can see why it's so important that you audit your website's content with a fine-tooth comb. An out-dated website can say a lot about how organized and focused you are as a ministry. Here's a list of things to check to get you started.
- Staff: Did your youth pastor leave? Remove him from your site.
- Banners and graphics: Finish that series on Luke? Women's Conference over? Take down those old banners and ads.
- Contact info: Make sure any person who wants to contact you can do so.
- News and events: Is your newest event page from Easter? Time to make a change.
- Home page: Freshen up your most-visited page by purging the old content and bringing in new.
2. Hold a content manager summit
If you divide up your content creation responsibilities by ministry, holding a big meeting to discuss the upcoming year can be good way to re-emphasize your content strategy. In these summits, you can also go over style guidelines, content do's and don'ts, field questions, and discuss the previous year's successes or failures.
Having consistent dialogue with your content managers helps them feel empowered and involved in the creation process, and makes you look less like a dictator and more like a partner. When they feel empowered, they're more likely to put more effort into great content and thinking up creative, new ways to better connect with your website visitors.
3. Create a content schedule
After your summit, or during if you only have a few content managers,
hold separate meetings with each content manager and/or ministry leader
to prepare for the upcoming year. In these meetings, you should make a list
of upcoming ministry events and the web needs for these events (like online
registration, social media promotion, online ads, etc.). This is also a good time to meet with your blog writers and get them thinking about future blog series or entry topics.
When you've met with all your ministries, you can begin to organize your tasks in calendar form, plug them into your project management tools, or whatever other way you plan ahead. You shouldn't be writing your Men's Conference event description the weekend before it happens, or scrambling to build a last-minute registration form. Make sure you and your content managers plan far enough ahead for website content to maximize its effectiveness.
4. Set up event or campaign landing pages
Chances are your church or ministry will have several big events (fall sermon series, fundraising campaigns, conferences, etc.) launching in the fall or winter. To make these events more successful on the web, you should set up
landing pages to act as portals to vital information for each
With these events comes promotional materials, like bulletin blurbs, postcards, posters, up-front announcements, and social media blitzes, all pointing people to your landing pages for more information, registration, and/or giving. Here are a few tips to make your paper and web promotions work together:
- URL shortcuts: Set these up for your landing pages, like yourchurch.org/mensconference, to make them easier to get to.
- Branding: Come up with a name, theme, logo, and color scheme and use on all promotional materials.
- Home page: Post banners and ads on your home page that point to your landing pages.
How would you ever know if your website is effective if you don't ask the people using it? Although many people think user testing is expensive, difficult, and time consuming, this isn't exactly true. You can hold easy user testing sessions every few months for little or no money. Here's how.
- Recruit a few friends or family members, with differing experience with your website. Three to five people is enough.
- Assign a few tasks for them to complete, like registering for an event, finding a particular info page, or contacting a ministry leader.
- Watch them complete these tasks, giving them no assistance.
- Record what you see, either by video or copious notes. What are they saying? What emotions are they going through?
- Analyze their actions. How can you avoid the bad and highlight the good?
- Change the problems that came up consistently.
It's that easy. For more information on hosting your own user testing, I recommend reading Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MAKING A GREAT CHURCH WEBSITE
5 Things To Do To Get Your Website Ready For Fall - ChurchWebsites.org
Content Strategy for Church Websites - iMinistries Blog
Applying 5 Leadership Principles to Your Church Website - iMinistries Blog