If you already have a church website, please do not read my posts and decide to completely re-make your site. There are few good reasons to create a completely new website. Instead, make incremental changes that will add value as you go along. Regardless of your stance on the subject of human evolution, you definitely want to believe in website evolution!
If your site has not had any updates in its design or technology, in the past 5 years, then a re-make might be in order. This is probably the only reason I would suggest overhauling everything. However, do it incrementally. If you set out to do everything at once, the project will grow to where it is not manageable. Plus when you finally get to publish it; it will be too far out of date again. These projects take anywhere from 6 months to a year. In “internet years”, that is a lot. So where can you make changes?
How do you perform incremental changes if you want to change the platform your site works on? I have personally migrated several websites from static sites to a content management system (CMS). Although I had to make some minor edits to the graphics so they fit in the templates; I made no changes to the color schemes or branding. Additionally, I made very few changes to the text and page graphics. The goal for the migration was to update the technology, not the content. So once you find a technology that can meet your needs, you can move your existing content while others determine future updates.
I mentioned in previous posts that you should invest in good imagery for your website. Reach out to the congregation, local schools, or even put an ad on craigslist.org for help photographing your church. Capture both the people and the buildings that are involved in your ministries. Do not just focus on worship, but all of your ministries; from your child and adult ministries, to outreach programs, and your bible study, support, and community groups. Good contextual photos of actual church members will be far more impactful than any stock photography you can dig up.
Social Media Engagement
In a forthcoming article I will discuss in detail what Social Media Engagement is, and what it is not. However, for the purposes of this paragraph; know that being “social” on the web does not mean creating some accounts and slapping an icon on your site. Although those are often your first steps, you need to be active with those accounts and engage your audience. Ask open ended questions, solicit conversation, and by all means interact with those who bother to open a dialog.
Finally, remember that these small updates can be made and tested. See if they have a positive impact, and are well received. If problems arise, further adjust, or revert to the original version. That is the best part of the web when compared to print; you can always change it. So experiment, test, and evolve your website over time.
Examine your site and make a top 10 list of all the changes you wish to make. Prioritize them, and every few months, make an update. After every update, track your site statistics and see how it fares. After each update, pray for guidance and wisdom as you re-evaluate the list and decide your next steps.
Photo courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski