The Internet does not wait for anyone, and this includes your church. If you are waiting for the right time to move ahead with your use of the web, you will be left in the dust. This does not mean you need to jump at every advancement. Nor does it mean you should not prayerfully and carefully integrate technology. The problem is that latest technology may or may not be exactly what your church needs. Yet the longer you wait, the further you will lag behind. It is a tough decision whether to move ahead or continue to tweak what you already have.
Pure and simple, by the time someone establishes a best practice, you are probably two to three years behind the curve. Waiting for someone to establish a best practice is a surefire way to always have a dated website and lagging Internet ministry. I am sorry for sounding so harsh, but the Internet moves at a fast pace. If you not trying to keep up, you will quickly fall way behind. Unfortunately you do not always know where to focus. Here is where I hope I can help.
The latest standards in coding and security are the most important things for your church’s digital spaces. A hacked website costs you credibility and suffer hours if not days of downtime. It is far better to have a website that looks a bit dated than be blacklisted as a malicious website. This means investing in a secure platform, with robust security scans, and regular backups.
On the tail of website standards, you should consider compliance with various guidelines. Website accessibility is a hot button topic. Failure to address it could result in visitors unable to access parts of your site. Worse it could result in a lawsuit. Businesses have had lawsuits brought against them for failing to provide a fully accessible site. I imagine you would not deny a congregation member a wheelchair ramp or sign language interpreter. Follow accessibility compliance guidelines so you do not do the same thing with your website.
Chasing Design Trends
This will be the only time I will caution you on jumping on the latest bandwagon. When Apple released iOS 7 with its new “flat design”, it seemed that everyone on the web raced to mimic it. While I enjoyed the move toward more simplistic design, I did not agree with the reason. Apple certainly has a knack for good design. But it fits their company’s culture. What fits your church’s culture? The only thing to keep in mind is that some designs may give your site a dated feel. I am simply advising to not follow every design trend. Time and money might be better spent enhancing other content instead of aesthetics.
There are some tough decisions to make when you are leading a web team. Please know that some have more weight than others. You will feel pressure from many directions. Continue to remind stakeholders that security and best practices in coding are paramount. Ask them to also consider compliance and accessibility guidelines. Lastly, keep focused on your church’s brand and culture. If the latest design trends will mesh well, by all means pursue them. Just avoid looking hip and trendy at the expense of other higher priorities.
Image courtesy of István Tóth