You cannot build a house without tools. And good tools make it go even faster. The same is true of building a successful digital ministry. The right combination of hardware and software will accelerate productivity. This article explores eight things your church communications team needs.
I based this article on over seventeen years of professional office experience. This includes over six as a user experience designer. We all work differently. But not having any one of these tools would put me at a disadvantage. I broke these up into hardware and software categories:
Without a computer, there is very little we can accomplish in the digital space. These accessories boost productivity and set you up for success. Here are a few tools, in order of importance:
While desktops are cheaper, laptops give members mobility. This is especially helpful for off-site customer interviews and usability studies. A tablet paired with a keyboard can be a good substitute. Remember that you are not building a computer for games. A fast graphics card is not important. Yet plenty of RAM helps when running many applications.
Hands-free operation of a telephone is great for taking notes during a phone call. This makes remote tasks like conference calls and usability studies far easier. If budgets are a concern, you can use smartphone microphone earbuds. But not all laptops are compatible with them. Remember that wired solutions are cheaper than wireless Bluetooth ones.
Accessories like dual monitors are not frivolous expenses. There are many situations where two displays make work far easier. This includes comparing and researching analytics data. Also, editing a website is easier with code on one screen and the site displayed on the other. Lastly, a second screen makes passive monitoring much easier. This includes email and social media dashboards like Hootsuite.
Bring video conference calls to life with a webcam. This may not seem essential, but remote calls with customers are far more personal. Plus this opens up options for remote employees. Also, use a webcam pointed to a dry erase board. This is a great collaboration tool for sketches and notes. Remote employees will find this technique essential for brainstorming sessions.
Computers by themselves cannot do anything. Much of what we do involves websites. But many of us need local tools to work well.
Basic Office Suite
Words are the foundation of your communications work. Thus, you will absolutely need to basic office software. There are paid options such as Microsoft Office, or free ones like OpenOffice. You might also consider cloud-based software such as Google Drive. But there is no getting around creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentation decks.
The second most important aspect of your communications toolkit. Again, you have industry-standard applications like Photoshop. But free tools like GIMP also exist. As with office software, you have browser-based apps like Canva. Even if you are not a graphic designer, an image editor is helpful for simple tasks. With little training, you can resize and crop photos for websites and social media.
The old stand-by for this is email. It may not be the most elegant, but it will provide an electronic history of conversations. Yet newer collaboration tools, such as Slack, allow for faster turn-around. The video conferencing tool Skype is available for many different devices. Paired with a webcam, it will help remote teams work together. Regardless of what you choose, do not overlook this important aspect of your team.
When designing a new website, or even just a landing page, I use wireframes. They are a quick and easy way to convey design intent. Tools like Axure and Balsamiq make that process very easy. You can drag and drop common web elements. They even allow for complex interactions and conditional events. Wireframing tools allow you to share your ideas with ease.
Take a look at what tools your church communications team has. There are many free software options on this list. And if you shop clearance and refurbished outlets, you can find budget-friendly hardware. Equip your team members and watch their effectiveness soar.
Photo courtesy of Engin Deniz